Mad Max is Stan Peterson’s huge, red, four-ton pig-shaped smoker, which he introduces in the accompanying video. The $25,000 apparatus sits on a trailer platform so it can be towed wherever it’s needed.
Stan created Max to simplify and perfect his BBQ. As you can see, it’s quite a setup. It’s computer-operated, and insulated with the same materials used for steam lines at nuclear power plants, which allows him to control the temperature within a degree or two of the desired heat and monitor the density of the smoke.
Stan, 64, owns VidtroniX, a company that creates custom printers for the airline industry, and is a also a computer programmer who writes programs for baggage, boarding passes, etc., for airlines, trains and other modes of transportation. After some 58 different experiments and configurations, he has Max where he wants it to be.
He told me he could cook 500 pounds of meat at once. Often it’s a mix of ribs, chicken, brisket, pork tenderloin, filet mignon, beans and chili. I had a sampling of all of the meats.
When my friend Greg Gorman and I arrived at Peterson's ranch, he opened a bottle of 2005 Glaetzer Godolphin Barossa Valley Shiraz-Cabernet, a rich dark wine with a medley of dark berry and black currant fruits and black licorice.
He had also set up a cooking demonstration to showcase the uses of different kinds of woods – pecan, hedge, which is related to mesquite, and even some old Zinfandel vines (in the second video). He had timed lunch for 2 p.m. so we had time to visit, talk about wine and listen to his BBQ stories, which were fascinating.
The lunch was incredibly good. Easily the best BBQ I’d ever had. The meats were tender and easily pulled away from the bones. The pulled pork was melt-in-your-mouth soft. His wood experiment illuminated the effects that the various types of wood had on the food.
I preferred the Zinfandel vines' smoke, which I’m sure Pete Seghesio would have appreciated. Not only would he have liked the Zin vines angle and BBQ, after all the joints we'd hit the day before, but I'm sure he would have been envious of Mad Max as well.
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — May 18, 2009 1:10pm ET
Michael Bonanno — May 19, 2009 9:01am ET
Trey Rolofson — Overland Park, KS — May 19, 2009 10:59am ET
Stan Peterson — June 4, 2009 5:39pm ET
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