Decorated Pitmaster Jim Foss on Easter Rib Steaks

Is ham going to be the centerpiece of your Easter dinner? Again?

If you’re looking to shake things up and wow your dinner guests, think about a standing rib roast or beautifully marbled rib steaks.

Jim Foss knows a little something about preparing delicious beef -- regardless of the holiday. Foss is co-founder and president of Pitmaster Hospitality, a company that includes a popular barbecue restaurant in Leesburg, Va., called Smokehouse Live. He's a Philadelphia native who has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for the past 15 years.

Pitmaster Jim Foss

Foss sat down with us to talk beef, Easter dinner, cooking techniques and more.

CC: What are you cooking for Easter dinner?

JF: I’ll be at Smokehouse Live in Leesburg, Virginia cooking our Easter Brunch. But, if I were home? House-cured smoked ham, homemade soft rolls, Lebanese-style lamb, baked grits, whatever great vegetable I could find at a farmer's market, smoked salmon deviled eggs, and coconut crème cake.

CC: Can you make a case for rib steaks or prime rib replacing ham or lamb as the go-to Easter staple?

What case do you want me to make? Prime Rib is fantastic all the time!

CC: What is your favorite recipe and cooking method for prime rib?

First and foremost, get an outstanding Prime Rib. Rub with salt, pepper, and then smoke it (low and slow of course) to a beautiful rare.

Tell us about a favorite cooking experience of yours.

The biggest honor I’ve ever been given was to cook for the American Academy of Chefs in 1994. It was really neat to brush elbows with the best chefs in the country, exchange ideas, talk shop, and learn from them.

How does Jim Foss the businessman/pitmaster differ from Jim Foss the backyard cook?

The food I cook at Smokehouse is the kind of food I cook at home. I would say that the only difference is that when I’m at home I have a beer in my hand!

Where do you fall in the charcoal grill vs. gas grill debate?

I understand the ease and convenience of gas, but there is nothing like a burger that’s been cooked with charcoal. I’m charcoal all the way.

If you could go back to one place for one dish, where and what would it be?

You’ll never believe me but my favorite food memory, and the experience I tell people about the most, is back in central Pennsylvania. I pulled a potato out of the ground, cooked it, and ate it. That was the first time I realized that this is what food is supposed to taste like. I’d relive that moment forever.