Pitmaster Pat Martin to Host New Series ‘Life of Fire’

photo courtesy of Pat Martin

Hosted by legendary pitmaster Pat Martin and dedicated to showcasing the nation’s varied and time-honored cooking traditions, “Life of Fire” is a new series on Outdoor Channel, premiering on Monday, May 6, at 8 p.m. CT / 9 p.m. ET. Over the course of 10 weekly episodes, Martin will intentionally feature the arduous, old methods of barbecue and live fire cooking, with each having its own unique style and story to tell. Martin purposefully steers the viewer away from the modern sense of barbecue we often see today, embedding himself with pitmasters, chefs, farmers, and some larger-than-life characters, as they share their own cooking heritage and traditions with him and speak to the importance of keeping those customs alive. The series was created by Martin and produced by Intuitive Content, founded by culinary giant Andrew Zimmern and industry legend Patrick Weiland dedicated to creating entertainment around captivating human narrative, food, lifestyle, and travel.

A bonafide history buff and one of the only three pitmasters left practicing the art of West Tennessee-style whole hog barbecue, Martin will showcase different techniques and practices from across the country, as well as foster conversations surrounding the importance of making sure these dying customs survive. Viewers can expect to learn about old-school cooking methods from across the state of Tennessee to Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and all the way out to California. There are even some stops to learn about international traditions from places like Greece and Laos along the way. Martin speaks the language of time-honored cooking traditions and is at home in the culture of wood, smoke, and coals to tell the cultural foodways of cooking over fire.

“I’ve been dreaming about finding a way to showcase our country and its roots in barbecue and live fire cooking for years! I’m so humbled and honored that the teams at Intuitive Content and Outdoor Channel have given me this opportunity to share what I love with their audiences.” says Martin. “Technology has sped our daily lives up in almost every aspect possible. Cooking over fire and coals is not immune to it either, with so many folks using electricity or gas assisted smokers or grills to take the work and the romance out of the process. Because of this, we run the risk of losing those time-honored methods and techniques, and more importantly the individual family and community stories associated with them that make America identify so strongly with barbecue and live fire cooking.”

You’ll find Martin burning wood down to coals to cook, using above- and in-ground pits, as well as utilizing forgotten cuts of meat and preparing the foods most people eat every day in unexpected ways.

“I’m passionate about exploring those pieces of history, learning about others’ cultural heritage, and making sure the old ways don’t die. My hope is that viewers will learn something new and follow along with all of the fun, because we had a blast traveling cross-country to meet up with some of my favorite people in the business of food.”

An almost 20-year leader in the industry, Martin is a dedicated independent restaurateur with a growing footprint across the Southeast. His first restaurant concept and namesake, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, is rooted in a lifelong love for the art of pit-cooked barbecue and live fire cooking. The entire menu at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint is scratch-made, every single day – from sides to sauces, and everything in between. What began as a 950-square foot joint in Nolensville, TN, in 2006 is today a beloved culinary destination with deep Nashville roots, a 500+ person team, and six locations sprinkled across Nashville, with outposts in Birmingham, AL; Louisville, KY; and Charleston, SC. Building upon the success of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Pat opened Hugh-Baby’s BBQ & Burger Shop in 2017 as a tribute to the small town barbecue and burger spots that dotted the mid-South of his youth. Dedicated to simple, delicious food and warm Southern hospitality, Hugh-Baby’s menu covers all the classics, with burgers, Memphis-style pulled pork, hot dogs, fries, and hand-spun shakes at its heart. There are three Hugh-Baby’s locations in Nashville and an outpost in Charleston, SC. In 2023, Pat opened SweetMilk Breakfast & Lunch serving old-school, traditional Southern breakfast that Pat’s grandmothers, mother, and aunts cooked for their family every morning. SweetMilk bakes a limited number of from-scratch, hand-cut, cast iron-baked biscuits every day (using White Lily Flour, of course) and served until sold out.

Martin released his debut book and inspiration for the show, Life of Fire: Mastering the Arts of Pit-Cooked Barbecue, The Grill, and The Smokehouse (Clarkson Potter), in the Spring of 2022. Through beautiful photography and detailed instruction, this procedural book is a must-have guide to open-fire cooking. Here, Martin looks to transform the way you cook by revealing the craft of West Tennessee-style barbecue – a tradition he’s spent a lifetime studying, teaching, and celebrating.

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