According To Andrew Zimmern, The Best Barbecue Is Outside The US - Exclusive

Barbecue is a global food that can be found in some iteration all over the world. At the same time, barbecue is very personal — it's usually perceived in a regional context, and people tend to have strong opinions about what makes for the best smoked meat.

For instance, acclaimed chef, writer, and TV personality Andrew Zimmern would call himself "a whole hog person" when it comes to barbecue. It's no surprise that the face of the "Bizarre Foods" franchise — and current host of "Andrew Zimmern's Wild Game Kitchen" on the Outdoor Channel — would be a fan of big, bold, in-your-face barbecuing, a style that dates back centuries. Then you have widely recognized pitmasters "like Rodney Scott, Pat Martin, and Sam [Jones]" who are "great whole hog specialists," elevating the revered technique to an art form, according to Zimmern.

However, Zimmern also says that when it comes to the absolute best barbecue you can get, the United States doesn't hold a candle to some of the traditional meat smoking practices he's seen around the world. Speaking exclusively with Tasting Table at the New York City Wine & Food Festival (at the signature Backyard BBQ event, of course), Zimmern opened up about the barbecue traditions he admires most — ones that cannot be found in our own backyard.

For some of the oldest and best barbecue, you've got to go East, says Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern told Tasting Table, "The most underrated form of barbecue is the barbecue that is all around the world that doesn't originate in this country." The practice of "meat over fire and using wood smoke is something that preservers used all around the world, and people don't realize that it's everywhere," Zimmern explained.

As someone who deeply appreciates the whole hog barbecue style, Zimmern says you've got to head to the Eastern Hemisphere to really see how it's done. "The best whole hog in the world is from Indonesia and the Philippines," he said, not the United States. That's partly because the practice itself is so much older than the country now most prominently associated with it. "Our tradition is a couple hundred years old. Theirs is a couple thousand years old."

Zimmern specifically highlighted "Babi Guling in Indonesia and Lechon Cebu in the Philippines." Babi Guling is a longstanding culinary tradition in Indonesia of roasting a suckling pig (via Taste Atlas). The outside of the animal is typically rubbed with turmeric and the inside stuffed with a range of regional herbs and spices before the pork is placed on a spit and cooked over an open fire. The Filipino specialty of Lechon Cebu adopts a similar preparation method, albeit with some different accompanying ingredients. "They're remarkable — filled with lemongrass and Asian aromatics and all that kind of stuff," Zimmern said.

In both cases, the showstopping displays and the succulent meat inside lure hungry tourists and locals alike from far and wide. If you truly consider yourself a barbecue aficionado, then you've got to make it a priority to learn more about and try these barbecue styles — even better if you can go straight to the source. 

For the latest from chef Andrew Zimmern, follow him on Instagram, and catch him on "Andrew Zimmern's Wild Game Kitchen" on Mondays at 9:00 p.m. ET on the Outdoor Channel. Plus, click here to learn more about the annual Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One, and be sure to check out the highlights from this year's event.