Playing With Fire

Austinites tame the flames on television

Guy Harris
Guy Harris (Photo by John Anderson)
Tom Spaulding
Tom Spaulding (Photo by John Anderson)

It's no secret that some representatives of our national food scene regularly generate national media attention, or that producers of reality TV cooking competition programs consider Austin an attractive locale for scouting potential cast members. That's why it should come as no surprise that two Austin culinary artisans are featured on different cable television programs early next week. Each one of them is hoping his 15 minutes of national exposure will boost his career here at home. Tune in to check them out.

Forged in Fire

Monday, July 27, 9pm

This dramatic History Channel offering pits four bladesmiths from across the country in a competition to handcraft a specific weapon for a panel of expert judges each week. It's pretty far afield from the kitchen, but one of this week's competitors is an Austin bread baker and knifesmith named Guy Harris. During his local baking career, Harris has baked everywhere from Fuddruckers to Upper Crust Bakery, and currently turns out the sandwich loaves at Noble Sandwich Co. His true calling, however, is making culinary knives. Harris' sideline is Harris Blades, the company set up in his home where he sharpens knives, swords, and equipment blades, in addition to creating custom culinary knives for local chefs. Of course, he can't divulge what kind of weapon he created on the show or whether or not he won, but Harris certainly hopes his television appearance will help him finally turn his 20-year avocation into a full-time, self-sustaining business.

Chopped Grill Masters

Tuesday, July 28, 9pm

Food Network brings back this summer grilling championship with new Austin restaurateur/chef Tim Love as one of the judges. Each week, four cooks attempt to demonstrate their mastery of live-fire cookery with mystery basket ingredients; then the winners from each week face off in a championship round to win $50,000. Up this week is former Live Oak Barbecue pit man Tom Spaulding, whom adventurous local carnivores may remember from his Saturday afternoon grill-fests on Live Oak's shady patio. Spaulding would research cultures with live-fire cooking elements to their cuisine and then use those techniques and recipes to prepare meats of all kinds, sometimes attracting crowds of 200 people to the tasting parties. Since the closing of Live Oak earlier this year, Spaulding has been catering, participating in barbecue competitions, and trying to set up a business of his own. All that grilling party research could pay off for Spaulding big time if he wins his preliminary round.

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More Tom Spaulding
Tickle the Ribs
Tickle the Ribs
The inaugural 'Austin Chronicle' Invitational BBQ Beef Rib Smackdown

Mick Vann, Jan. 17, 2014

Restaurant Review
Live Oak Barbecue
The Eastside gets another superlative house of meat

Mick Vann, Aug. 5, 2011

More by Virginia B. Wood
Top 10 Savory Bites
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Jan. 1, 2016

Open Secret
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The not-so-hidden pleasures of dine

Dec. 25, 2015


Guy Harris, Tom Spaulding, Live Oak Barbecue, Noble Sandwich Co., Food Network, History Channel, Tim Love, Chopped Grill Masters, Forged in Fire

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