Meet Rocklin’s grail of the grill: Larry Gaian

By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Larry Gaian of Rocklin relishes the sight of blue smoke. He savors the sweet blue clouds that wisp from the grill when meat is slow cooked in a flavor enhancing fire. Ribs, brisket, beef shank — name it and Gaian has probably prepared it over the hard wood. Gaian is no ordinary barbecue enthusiast, but an internationally acclaimed grilling guru who just happens to enjoy backyard cookouts at his Clover Valley home on any of his 11 grills. Sometimes he called them smokers. Gaian’s fame comes from his popular website, which is getting worldwide attention. “It really just started out as a way for me to write,” Gaian said. “It was more of a journal. Lots of barbecue people keep barbecue journals.” So how does a dad with three grown kids, a dedicated husband and a director of training for a Fortune 500 company find time to journal on a website with step-by-step photos on topics such as how to smoke a chili dog? An award-winning army journalist, Gaian traded his career as a press escort to raise his family in Rocklin. When the kids grew up, he returned to his love of writing with a blog about barbecue. In no time, his flavorful features boosted his website to the big time. “Being asked by Char-Broil to be a guest chef and writer for their website gave me an inclination I was doing something right,” remembered Gaian. “The food I’m most famous for is something called a MOINK Ball. It’s a little bit of moo and a little bit of oink. It’s a bacon-wrapped meatball that’s smoked.” Gaian’s MOINK Ball hit the barbecue charts in 2008 after he served up the savory creation at a friend’s wedding and then posted his recipe online. Barbecue bloggers worldwide posted their own MOINK Ball variations and Gaian announced an annual barbecue holiday: World MOINK Ball Day, which is held June 5. Gaian said the delicacy is soon to be trademarked. Most MOINK lovers know that a MOINK Ball is always made with a beef meatball, either frozen or homemade. “Larry is a respected voice of authority in the outdoor cooking community because of his obvious love of good food and dedication to helping folks learn and enjoy traditional barbecue on their own grills and cookers,” said Barry Martin of Char-Broil. “His creation of the MOINK Ball has been received and promoted throughout the world in the online conversations by enthusiasts as they share pictures of their most recent cooks. And I can assure you — if it wasn’t ‘good eats’ it would not be so popular!” Gaian said he never intended to go international with his blog and credits his wife Celeste for much of his inspiration. “I could not do what I do without her support,” Gaian said. “She is a fantastic cook in her own right. She does all the sides and she is a wonderful baker.” For now, Gaian is happy being a backyard griller who often takes an admiring call or two from neighbors up the canyon who catch a savory whiff of a smoking 25-pound chuck roast or the caramelized sugars off freshly grilled veggies. A dream of Gaian’s is to teach in-home barbecue classes with his wife and also write a syndicated barbecue column for a newspaper. “It’s just the satisfaction of knowing that my 15 minutes of fame is doing something fun and helpful to people,” Gaian said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to last and probably the biggest thrill I get is being able to cook for people and put a smile on their faces.” The Original MOINK Ball Ingredients 24 pieces of pre-made meatballs (thawed) 12 slices of bacon Your favorite barbecue seasoning Raspberry Balsamic Chipotle Glaze 1 cup of raspberry preserves (Seedless works best) 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar 3 cloves of garlic (minced extra fine) Chipotles (seeded and chopped) Directions: Cut the 12 slices of bacon in half creating 24 slices. Wrap each meatball with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Season generously with your favorite barbecue rub. Smoke at 225 degrees until the bacon has become crisp to your likeness. You can also do these on your charcoal or gas grill with indirect heat. Glaze with Raspberry Balsamic Chipotle Glaze and smoke/grill for an additional 10 minutes. For Raspberry Balsamic Chipotle Glaze, heat through all ingredients. Make sure preserves are melted.