Food Network on Monday announced a five-week, grilling-themed season of its popular show "Chopped" that will start at 10 p.m. July 22.
Among the contestants on the first episode will be St. Petersburg resident Ray Lampe.
Better known as "Dr. BBQ," Lampe will face off in the Arizona desert at Old Tucson Studios against Jennifer and Tom Duncan, who operate the Whiskey Ranch BBQ mobile catering business in Gilbert, Ariz., and Galen Zamarra, chef and owner of Mas (Farmhouse) and Mas (La Grillade) in New York City. Celebrity judges for the episode are Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Aarón Sánchez.
One chef from each episode makes it to a final face-off, with the season's ultimate winner taking home a $50,000 grand prize.
Lampe and his competitors will have to make an appetizer using the seemingly impossible ingredients of cookies and yak steaks. The chefs who survive elimination after each round must them make an entrée and a dessert.
Lampe in May released a new book, "Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Barbecue," (Chronicle, $22.95). The premise: No matter what equipment or situation, you can still make great barbecue. Even if its yak on the grill.
Lampe concedes many novice cooks confuse barbecuing with grilling. Barbecue involves smoke and indirect heat, while grilling requires direct heat.
"If you want to grill a burger and call it barbecue, I'm not going to fight about it," he says. "I know the difference, and I'll be happy to teach you if you want."
The book hews to the basics of smoking and barbecue cooking. Every protein recipe in the book is cooked under 250 degrees, which is the "slow and low" philosophy of barbecue.
Lampe said he was challenged to create a whole book of barbecue recipes, including for items such as fajitas, prime rib and tri-tip steak.
"These are things I would probably want to cook at a higher temp, but I wanted to create these recipes for smoking," he says. "If you're looking at how to grill a steak, this ain't the book."
As for the shot on "Chopped," Lampe said he's excited about the national exposure.
"I think this is going to be a big deal for me," he says.
For more about Ray, go online to www.drbbq.com.