Now Playing

Know Your Wood

The key to a great grill is great lumber. 

Six years ago, Morgan Robinson quit his job as chef for Franciscan Estates to start Smoke (2766 Old Sonoma Rd., near Foothill Blvd., Napa, 707-927-5070), a one-man show with a single prop: a 10-by-5-foot Santa Maria grill that he wheels from site to site to cook elaborate meals for anywhere from a dozen diners to 700. One of the keys to grilling success, Robinson says, is using the right wood. Here are three of his favorites.

Red oak: “It’s ideal for smoking, but it can be a pain in the butt because it kicks up so much smoke. So I mix it with white oak, which burns much hotter.”

Fig: “The branches are great for seafood and lamb. I love the sweet flavor.”

Grape: “Grapevine cuttings are really fun. We like to use them with paellas because they put off so much heat.”


Read more: 
Porno for Food Pyros 
Five Ways to Cook With an Inferno  
Equipment: The It Grill
Three Steps to Becoming a Fire Tamer 
What to Drink With Your Smoke and Char
Environmental Report: Spare the Air—or the Dinner

Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco

Have feedback? Email us at
Email Rebecca Flint Marx at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Rebecca Flint Marx @EdibleComplex