It’s the seventh season of Cooking in America, and host Sheldon Simeon is exploring the food community in Oakland, California. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a large migration of African American families to the west coast from various southern states. With them, these families brought classic iterations of southern barbecue, turning Oakland into a pulled pork, smoked brisket, and spare ribs heaven. As the years went, a lot of those barbecue joints began to fade with big fast food chains moving in; but Smokin Woods owner James Woodward is dedicated to returning the city to its barbecue heyday.
Along with his two brothers and his mother Vermilyea Jordan, the Woodward is reminding Oakland of its barbecue history through dishes like Jordan’s mac and cheese, St. Louis-style spare ribs, and smokey beef ribs. “This is what Oakland was about, and we’re going to bring it back.”