By Nsenga K. Burton Ph.D.
The National Geographic Channel has done it again. The channel known for bringing high-quality non-fiction programming to viewers brings the larger-than-life grillmaster Big Moe Cason to the small screen. The Iowa-born, Minnesotan learned the art of grilling from his Virginia grandparents. Retired from the Navy, Cason leaned into the cooking techniques used by his grandmother Margaret and mother Mary Cason, eventually turning a hobby into a profession. He began traveling to food festivals and fell in love with grilling techniques used by grillmasters from Texas and Kansas City. “I married what I knew with what I learned from the grillmasters from Texas and Kansas City,” says Cason. “I love the simplicity of Texas Bar-B-Q. It’s the seasoning and the smoke which can be a double-edged sword,” he adds.
It’s no wonder the television series is called, “World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason.” Cason talks enthusiastically about the flavor profile of his grilled meats. The series follows the U.S. Navy veteran and champion BBQ pitmaster as he travels around the world to create mouth-watering meals for the locals. Chef Cason also explores the history of the local culture and culinary influences, incorporating all of the above and some techniques into his meals. For example, in an episode featuring foods of South Carolina, Cason explored the rich history of Gullah and Geechee culture and their foods. He learns from a historian, fisherman and fellow grillmaster who teaches him to use dry milk in his seasoning for sausage — a technique Cason incorporates in his sausage. Cason’s final dish pulls in all of the history, culture and culinary delights learned on this trip.
One of the tings that is most endearing about Big Moe’s big presence on screen, is his humility and willingness to learn from others. Big Moe seems just as happy learning to use cheesecloth to make delicious beef tenderloin as he is when sharing his tips for fantastic food. Cason also engages in different experiences, like scaling a wall at a military base which he hadn’t done since enlisting, and fishing for oysters, which he had never done before. Both activities were worthwhile because he proved to himself he could do it and learned something new that he could incorporate into his meal for the locals. Cason gets a little misty-eyed when discussing his family influences and connecting with local culture, which is reminiscent of his upbringing. ‘World of Flavor’ shows the connection between local and global culture and all of the information and influences it takes to make a meal that is as delicious as it is meaningful.
The four-part series, “World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason,” debuts July 25, 2022 at 10 p.m. EST on the National Geographic Channel. Livestream of the series is also available on FUBOtv.
This article originally appeared in The Burton Wire.