Watching Famous Dave

Watching Famous Dave

An episode of hyper-reality TV.

few hundred people found themselves in a most surreal situation one Sunday night in May: eating Famous Dave’s ribs in Famous Dave’s house while watching Famous Dave on TV with Famous Dave in the room. Barbecue in 4D.

Famous Dave Anderson (left) and his faithful smoke master Charlie Torgerson have been among the contestants on the Food Network’s Best In Smoke lately, a reality TV series that pits some of the top barbecue professionals in the country against each other. Coming into episode three, which partygoers watched that night, Anderson and Torgerson were among the four teams that were still smokin’ hot. They made it to the final episode, only to be beaten by Brooklyn’s Matt Lang—who won with tofu. 

At an event where reality had so many layers, it made sense that local TV personalities (KSTP’s Joe Schmit, KARE 11’s Mike Pomeranz) showed up to watch TV—and to line up with everyone else for saucy baby back ribs, smoked chicken thighs, and pulled pork. Also there: Amy Mills, author of Peace, Love & Barbecue and a judge on Best In Smoke

As that night’s episode started, it was clear the battle was intense. Indeed, Famous Dave rolled through the house in a wheelchair as a result of a knee injury incurred during taping (he fell from a six-foot ladder when he was setting up his smoker). When the mesquite chips fell where they may, he had avoided elimination by the skin of his crispy chicken—which some viewers had just downed their final bite of.