Craig ‘Meathead’ Goldwyn has enough accolades that we could have just pages that list his accomplishments. His book “The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling” was a NY Times best seller and named one of the “100 Best Cookbooks of all Time” by Southern Living, as well as one of our personal favorites. And that is only a scratching the surface.
Funnily the name Meathead predates all that. Oh sure, his dad owned a butcher shop and was a USDA inspector, and a fan of the TV show “All in the Family”. That patriarch, Archie Bunker, always referred to his son in law as Meathead. Did this create Craig’s predilection to barbecue and all it has to offer? Maybe, but after getting a journalism degree his first gig was actually as a wine buyer and writer.
The background in wine likely served him very well. In that industry you have to break flavors down into components and understand how they affect your pallet and how they interact. Learning a detailed approach to flavor analysis would certainly qualify him as judge in multiple disciplines from wine to mustard and includes judging at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. But our over achieving friend has bona fides that run much deeper.
Academically his background included lectures at Cornell University about wine for the famed School of Hotel Administration, for over a decade. Throw in a few years as an adjunct professor at Chicago’s Cordon Bleu school of cooking, guest stints at Yale and such, and you end up with amazingly deep credentials for a well-known barbecue guru.
“What matters most is not what is on the table but who is in the chairs.” – Meathead
At his home site Amazingribs.com he has become known as the barbecue whisperer, and certainly one of the top experts on the field. This is due in part to the scientific approach he takes, breaking down the mechanics of cooking and how that leads to the desired result. This is not a huge surprise since his dad also had a gig as a food scientist at Cornell. Meathead first discovered the joy that are well made smoked ribs while in college in Florida during the late sixties. With that much time to explore, it comes as no surprise that he has strong opinions, well founded, and he is not afraid to share them. Some of hi notions are even controversial, such as the idea that you do not need to let meat rest after cooking. Some consider that blasphemy, for Meathead it comes down to science, and he makes a good case.
Back to the world of barbecue, and we see that Meathead’s circuitous route has brought him to the rarified position of being nominated, and now inaugurated into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2021. Drive through his Chicago neighborhood and you will likely catch some world class aromas coming off one, or some, of the dozen smokers, grills and apparatus that he owns. Renaissance man doesn’t quite do Meathead Goldwyn justice, although it comes quite close. He has knowledge, experience, and most of all passion on his side as he helps all of us find the path to our own amazing ribs.