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Alisal Experiences

Barbecue University® with Steven Raichlen

Steven Raichlen:
Barbecue University®

September 3-6, 2024

When the sun rises over the majestic Alisal Ranch, smoke will rise too.  The fragrant smoke of hickory and the fiery smoke of mesquite—rising from the more than 30 state-of- the-art grills and smokers in our outdoor classroom.

Welcome to Barbecue University®—the nation’s premier school on the arts of grilling, smoking, and live fire cooking.   “A fantasy camp for coal heads,” is how Eating Light magazine described us, while The Food Network named the school the “#1 barbecue experience in the U.S.”

Your instructor and host is Barbecue Hall of Famer, Steven Raichlen.   You’ve read his award-winning, bestselling books, like The Barbecue! Bible and Project Smoke.   You’ve watched his popular TV shows, such as Planet Barbecue® and Project Fire.

And now, you can learn the art of live fire cooking with the man who launched the barbecue revolution.

So what’s on the menu at Barbecue University® this year?   Memphis dry rub ribs and Texas Hill Country brisket.   Thai rotisserie chicken and a spectacular Brazilian rib roast.   Smash burgers, lamb burgers, and ingenious inside-out cheeseburgers.   Tri-tip of course—after all, this is southern California.   Honey sesame shrimp.   Smoke-roasted salmon.   Grilled pizza and Steven’s legendary cedar plank chocolate brownie s’mores for dessert.  Eight to ten recipes per day!

Each class opens with a demonstration of the day’s menu and techniques.    The students do the actual grilling under Steven’s supervision.   Class concludes with a festive 5-course lunch, accompanied by craft beers and local wines.   There may even be smoked cocktails.  😉

Our students come from all over the world—literally—many of them repeats from previous years.   No prior grilling experience is required, but seasoned barbecuers will find plenty of challenging dishes to take their skills to the next level.

Our home is the Alisal Ranch in Solvang, California, and if that sounds familiar, you’ve been watching Steven’s Project Fire and Project Smoke TV shows—filmed on location at this 10,000- acre ranch in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley.   Guests lodge in luxurious cabins—each with a fireplace.   You have afternoons free to ride one of the Alisal’s more than 100 horses, hike on scenic trails, golf on a riverside golf course, get a massage at the spa, or simply relax.

Make that relax and shop in the nearby charming Danish-California town of Solvang.   Or taste chardonnay or pinot noir at one of the dozens of local wineries.   (Homework assignment: Watch the movie “Sideways,” which was filmed here.)

I have attended cooking classes and retreats throughout the U.S. and Europe, but have never experienced anything like Barbecue University®,” wrote travel writer and author Larry Olmsted on

The next session of Barbecue University® takes place September 3 to 6, 2024.   Space is limited, so sign up today.

Barbecue University®—where the only marks you get are grill marks!


This Experience Includes:

  • Accommodations for 3-nights
  • All meals – Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
  • A selection of alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages at our bars & restaurants
  • Three hands-on classes with renowned grilling authority Steven Raichlen, with sumptuous student-cooked meals to follow.
  • Optional for additional guests to join at a “non-student” discounted rate

Limited availability. Plus tax and 22% ranch fee.


Meet Steven Raichlen

Author, journalist, lecturer, and TV host, Steven Raichlen is the man who launched the barbecue revolution.  His 32 books include the international blockbusters The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill and the New York Times bestselling Planet Barbecue and Project Smoke (Workman Publishing).   His latest book, How to Grill Vegetables, focuses on global plant-based grilling.   Raichlen’s books (more than 6 million copies in print) have won five James Beard Awards and three IACP Julia Child Awards and have been translated into 17 languages.

Steven Raichlen hosts the popular Public Television show: Project Fire, Project Smoke, and the new Planet Barbecue®.   He also stars in several French-language TV shows, including Le Maître du Grill, and an Italian show: Steven Raichlen Grills Italy.  An award-winning journalist, Raichlen writes regularly for The New York Times.  His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, GQ, and all the major food magazines. In 2015, he was inducted into the KCBS Barbecue Hall of Fame.

Raichlen founded Barbecue University®, now held at the Alisal Ranch in Solvang, California, and has lectured on this history of barbecue at institutions as diverse as Harvard, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution.  His latest venture is a series of Star Grill by Steven Raichlen restaurants on the Windstar cruise line.

Steven Raichlen holds a degree in French literature from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and studied medieval cooking in Europe on a Watson Foundation Fellowship.  He was also awarded a Fulbright.  When not grilling, you’ll find him at the helm of his sailboat, Barbacoa.   He and his wife, Barbara, live in Miami and Martha’s Vineyard.  His websites are and

Photos from Past Events


The spirit of adventure.

At Alisal Ranch, we believe that true hospitality comes straight from the heart— and want you to feel a warm welcome throughout your stay. Our serene Western-style accommodations offer casual and comfortable luxury, designed to help you unwind and relax.

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