Monday, May 25, 2015

Grilling over lava for Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!  I know there is a serious purpose to today, but this weekend is also the kickoff for summer and outdoor cooking.  How could I top safe grilling advice and the science of beer and hot dogs to mark the holiday?  Grilling steaks over molten lava!  CNN reported on this last August when the channel asked Would you eat a steak grilled ... on lava?

The first steak ever grilled, on lava! Jeanne Moos reports this gastronomic eruption tasted like "the best steak ever."
The story may be nearly a year old, but it's gotten legs lately, as reported last week: Cooking steaks over molten lava? Syracuse University praised for 'badass' grill.
The stunt and video are both 10 months old, but praise has been heating up this past week from Popular Mechanics, Boing Boing, Business Insider and Mental Floss. A writer at BuzzFeed even called it "badass" and said "this is how real men grill."
I saw it on my YouTube feed last week and one of my students submitted an article about it for extra credit.  Between the two, I knew what I'd post to celebrate Memorial Day.

Here is the complete video of the original run from Media Studio TV (ETA: the original video has been taken down, so I've substituted one from Rollin 20's: 082114 Lava Steak (Lava-cooked steaks in upstate New York) COOKING Meat with LAVA! Steak, Fish, Hotdogs.

The Syracuse University cooked up a culinary treat by grilling steaks over a stream of red hot lava as part of an experimental lava project that brings together sculptors and geologists.…
Keep calm and grill on!


  1. Neat, but my engineering brain is thinking "what a massive amount of energy (inefficiency!) to grill as steak!"

    You don't see people getting all excited about grilling vegetables on a parabolic solar reflector; perhaps that's just a sign of the times.

    1. Welcome to Crazy Eddie's Motie News!

      I thought that, too, so it isn't just you. The inefficient us of energy is probably why the article included this sentence: "The cooking experiment inspired Bompas to try launching a "lava banquet" service in London, according to NPR -- though it requires booking a month in advance and a minimum of 500 guests." Otherwise, it makes neither economic nor energetic sense. Still, it's really cool.

      As for cooking using a parabolic solar reflector, thanks for suggesting that. I should blog about that, since it would be on-topic for this blog's general theme and project. The closest I've gotten is Hot enough to fry an egg in Death Valley, which isn't quite the same thing.

  2. Well that was a disappointing link. I thought the steaks were being cooked over REAL lava, in someplace like the Big Island in Hawaii or maybe one of the southern Italian active volcanoes. I clicked on it wondering how the grillers dealt with the ambient heat around the lava flows and whether they gave off toxic gases that affected the flavour of the steak. But it was only man-made (and tremendously energy-inefficient, as you note) super-heated basalt. I don't see this becoming a trend at the many Korean hot stone barbecue places in this town.

    1. The chef behind this project has toasted marshmallows over actual lava, but that's as far as he's gotten in the natural world. As for it being disappointing, I can see why you thought so, but lots of people, mostly young men I'm sure, felt it was really cool.