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A BBQ Cookout and Artisan Cheese
The world’s largest smoker and grill stops at Summerfest and this week's celebration of Wisconsin cheese.

Trace Arnold, restaurateur and self-proclaimed “sport chef” is a true Texas gentleman. He stopped at Summerfest on July 6 and 7, as part of the History Cross-Country Tour to share his signature barbecue and show off his mobile creation. The 80-foot Ultimate Smoker and Grill, designed and operated by Arnold, can smoke 2,000 pounds of meat and grill 1,000 hotdogs, 500 hamburgers or 200 16-ounce steaks at one time.

Ribs are actually his specialty and favorite meal on the grill. Trace earned the nickname “The Rib Whisperer” after defeating a Cajun friend who challenged him to a rib cook-off at his home.

I had to see this for myself, so I went down to the fest to experience this extreme grilling first-hand and ask Trace a few questions about his incredible invention.

Girl About Town: When did you develop this grill and why?

Trace Arnold: I ran a dude ranch in Texas and was cooking barbecue for corporate events and private parties, so I was accustomed to cooking in large volumes.  In 2003, I had the world’s largest smoker – it was 57 feet long. There were other guys trying to do this, but I said screw them and then I decided to make made the world’s largest smoker and grill. I think outside of the box – I don’t have a box actually. So, I said let’s build it as big as we possibly could to be legal in Texas. Johnsonville has a huge grill it uses for its brats, but there is no another touring grill like this.

History Channel saw us and wanted to take it around the country. What could be more all-American then backyard grilling?

Photo by Jenna Kashou. Trace Arnold photo (top left) by Jenna Kashou.

GAT: What’s the most difficult thing about cooking this much food at one time?

TA: Nothing – if you can cook for 10 people, you can cook for 1,000. If you can do math, you can cook for a lot of people.

GAT: What’s the most unusual thing you’ve put on this grill?

TA: Kangaroo.

GAT: What do the people of Milwaukee think of your food?

TA: We are feeding them the jalapeño-cheddar and hickory-smoked sausage. Y’all are accustomed to brats so I am turning them on to something from a whole other region. So far so good; they are loving it. Someone can bring me his best brat and I will put it against my sausage any day.

I have about a thousand ideas a day, 999 of them don’t work out, but the day I invented the brisket pizza was a good day because it uses two of my favorite foods. It’s got barbecue sauce, brisket, cheese, red and green onion and a crispy crust I can make fresh here in this oven.

The History Cross-Country Tour is 10,000 miles, 90 days and in 13 cities. Milwaukee was the seventh stop.


Wheels of Pleasant Ridge in the aging caves at Uplands Cheese. Photo by Brooke Seipel. 

Still hungry? Attend the Artisan Cheese Social this week on Wednesday, July 10th to celebrate artisan and farmstead cheese from Wisconsin. MKE Foodies and Slow Food WISE are hosting the event, which will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. at Great Lakes Distillery (616 W. Virginia St.).

“Artisan cheese is the marriage of tradition, farms and quality production, which are three things our organizations support,” notes Brooke Seipel of Slow Food WISE. “We’re excited to showcase some of the best local cheeses around.

Mingle with local cheesemakers like Andy Hatch, who created Pleasant Ridge (those sumptuous rounds you see in the picture) and let morsels of artisan cheese melt in your mouth, while you enjoy other apps from some of Milwaukee’s best: Angelic Bakehouse, Rocket Baby Bakery, and Bolzano Artisan Meats. Wash it all down with craft cocktail Great Lakes Distillery (cash bar).

The event is being held in anticipation of the 30th Annual American Cheese Society Conference and Festival in Madison July 31-August 3. The conference, attracts cheesemakers and cheese industry professionals from around the country.

Organizers will donate all proceeds from the Artisan Cheese Social to a scholarship for aspiring cheesemakers in Wisconsin. Also, attendees will have the chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to the ACS Festival of Cheese in Madison on August 3rd (a $110 value).

Order $10 tickets here, or purchase at the door for $15 (limited quantity)

Hey you! Follow me on Twitter as @jkashou and search #GirlAboutTown to stay on top of what’s happening around town.

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