We asked St. Petersburg chef Ray Lampe, a.k.a. Dr. BBQ, about the Big Green Egg's cultlike following. The Spokeschef for the Egg will be at this weekend's Eggs by the Bay event in Tampa. His book Ray Lampe's Big Green Egg Cookbook comes out Oct. 4. For our full profile on Dr. BBQ, and a video interview with him, go to tbtim.es/drbbq.
How did you become an Egghead?
You can't use a gas grill at a barbecue competition. It's illegal. But the Green Egg? No one had ever used them at a barbecue competition. But it was perfectly legal. I went to a competition in Kentucky with four Eggs and I won. It was a stunt.
After that, I talked Big Green Egg into hiring me 13 years ago. I was a pretty big deal in the competitive barbecue world and at the time they had guys in golf shirts selling Green Eggs, no one who actually cooked.
I went to them, to a guy named Nick Nicholas in Lakeland who was involved in the wholesaling and retailing of barbecues. He said these manufacturers need people who can cook.
What explains the cult status of the Big Green Egg?
The Green Egg was early on the Internet. And information technology guys are intrigued because it's both high tech and low tech. A lot of grill guys want to make things way more complicated than they need to be.
Do you know of other local Eggheads?
I know Marty Blitz from Mise en Place has one. So does Zack Gross from Z Grille. The Marriott Waterside in Tampa has three, and I know Fabrizio Schenardi, the executive chef of Four Seasons Resort in Orlando, has a big one.
Laura Reiley, Times food critic