A big rig hauling a massive trailer rolled into the north end of Union Square a little after midnight on Tuesday morning. This was no ordinary cargo container. Rather, the 80-foot long behemoth is the world’s largest meat smoker and grill, brought here by the History Channel for their Cross-Country Cookout promotional tour.
At 2 a.m., the fires were lit. First, in went 200 pounds of brisket, followed an hour later by 150 pounds of pork ribs. By 12 p.m., 10 salmon and at least 500 pounds of sausages would join the lot. By 6 p.m., they will have served nearly 500 people and packed to head to their next destination.
The 55-foot long Ultimate Smoker and Grill is the baby of Texas native Trace Arnold, also known as the Rib Whisperer, a moniker his wife gave him years ago. Arnold, a large jovial man with a friendly Southern smile, is a barbecuing veteran who co-owns the 3 Stack Smoke & Tap House in Texas.
Arnold created the truck four years ago complete with a prep kitchen, six huge smoking ovens and a wood-fired grill under the hydraulic lid that can cook 1,000 hotdogs, 500 burgers or 200 16-ounce steaks at once. He is perpetually upgrading it and recently added a Big Green Egg ceramic cooker. “If you’ve got it good, make it great,” he said. “If you’ve got it great, make it outrageous.” He brings his own exclusive blend of jalapeno-cheddar and hickory smoked sausages for these events all the way from Texas, while sourcing other ingredients locally.
New York is the shortest and most hectic leg of the trip for History Channel’s promotional tour, now in it’s third year. Starting from North Carolina, the Ultimate Smoker and Grill has made its way through Tennessee and New Hampshire, and will end in Pennsylvania. It is accompanied by games themed around shows such as Top Gear, Swamp People and American Pickers.
Arnold’s barbecue is the central draw of the event. “He’s one of our character without even being on television,” said Jennifer Hayes, marketing manager at History. “This is his history show right here.”