The 5 Pillars of Santa Maria-Style BBQ With Chef Anthony Endy

When it comes to different styles of barbecue across the United States, places like Texas, Memphis, or North/South Carolina probably come to mind. However, there’s a particular style of barbecue that might not be as well-known, but most certainly punches above its weight class in flavor. We’d like to introduce you to Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Photo: Jon Perino

The history of Santa Maria-style barbecue started with the local ranchers in the Central California coast region in the late 1800s—even dating back to the Chumash people. They’d cook over the local hardwood in the area (primarly oak and sycamore). And due to the consistently windy conditions of the central coast of California, they would dig big pits into the ground to build their fires and cook over the embers. But the wind is actually a key component here, as it keeps the fire healthy and fueled without the need for ventilation. They’d place cuts like top sirloin on large skewers or stakes, and then roast the meat across the coals.

The Spanish introduced the grill in the early 1900s, and the below-ground pit became an above-ground pit with a lever to raise and lower the grill, essentially something that the ranchers could tow around—also known as an Argentine-style “Gaucho Grill” or simply “Santa Maria-style” grill.

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

While tri-tip is somewhat of a staple in modern Santa Maria-style barbecue, the history goes back to three dominant proteins: top sirloin, chicken, and linguica (Portuguese sausage). A traditional Santa Maria-style meal consists of the protein, pinquito beans (locally grown in the area), salsa, garlic bread (grilled over oak and dipped in garlic butter), and a green salad, all followed by dessert (traditionally, strawberry shortcake).

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

We sat down with Santa Maria-style barbecue expert and Executive Chef Anthony Endy at the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country for their annual BBQ Bootcamp event—a brilliant, three-day masterclass in all things barbecue, led by some of the best chefs in the country. We talked with Endy to learn more about what makes this style of grilling so juicy, smoky, succulent, and just damn delicious.

It All Starts With the Wood

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

“We use the local hardwood, which is oak. Red oak is the most popular hardwood for barbecuing here. We use a blend of red oak and white oak just because it’s the most accessible here on the Alisal Ranch. So you’ll always start with that hardwood… the wood always comes first. You make a great fire for it, break it down into embers, and then you just slow roast. Santa Maria-style barbecue runs hotter than most, it’s not as smokey, but runs at a much hotter temperature.”

Reverse Sear Is Key

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

“You don’t want to sear out the flavors. You want to keep the juice inside your protein and you want to absorb the smoke… and keep flipping it. Reverse sear, when it comes to items like tri-tip—and even on the chicken, as well—I was doing [reverse sear] because these are items where you want the protein to absorb the smoke and then you want to create that crust at the very end.”

Don’t be Afraid to Flip the Protein

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

“Be committed once you put the protein on, and flip it often. The chicken will tell you when it wants to be turned, with tri-tip you don’t want to work with flare-ups, that’s a rookie mistake. Flare-ups usually occur when you add the fat like oil to the grill too early. Keep the fire low, and keep a good distance between the protein and flame itself.”

Always Start With a Clean Grill

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

“Use the fat that you trim off the protein to wipe down and clean the hot grates before placing the protein on. This will clean off all the previous residue while maintaining the flavor of the protein.”

Use Tongs

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

“Some Santa Maria guys use these little pig tail things to poke the meat and flip it. However, you want to keep the juices in, and each time you puncture it, you let the juices out. The goal is always juicy succulent meat. A major mistake people make is overcooking their meat, and a principle rule is always letting your meat rest (for roughly 20 minutes), and always cut against the grain when it comes to tri-tip.”

anthony endy
Photo: Jon Perino

Check out more information about visiting the Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, and get a jump on registering for their next BBQ Bootcamp event.

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Living Proof podcast: How Four Pillars went from start-up to world’s best gin producer

Stuart Gregor, co-founder of Four Pillars distillery, is on the Living Proof podcast to discuss winning global awards, Christmas gin and more.

Based in Yarra Valley, Four Pillars’ range of gins have become ubiquitous in Australia since hitting the market in 2013.

Judging by the company’s current trajectory, it’s well on its way to becoming a household name the world over.

In November, Four Pillars was unveiled as Gin Producer of the Year at the International Wine and Spirits Awards, for the second year running.

Fresh from that announcement, co-founder Stuart Gregor is on the Living Proof podcast, to share the Four Pillars story and chat all things craft spirits.

You can find Living Proof on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

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The 4 Pillars of a Happy, Healthy Life

In my continued quest for lifelong learning I’ve been taking notes and distilling what I’ve learned in the books, podcasts, documentaries alongside my own personal self experiments in health and well-being. The patterns that have emerged for me come in four different areas in what I call the Four Pillars of Happy, Healthy Living. What they do not include is what we do at work. I’m not going to spew out any ‘do what makes you happy’ or ‘follow your passion’ hyperboles as that doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. If you’re working to pay the bills, doing what you love, or not working at all it doesn’t matter and these pillars still apply to a happier, healthier life.


Books like the China Study, How Not To Die, Proteinaholic, and SuperLife all talk about the abundance of research in the largest studies in the world conducted by world renowned scientists spanning decades. Some of these studies include, but are not limited to, the Epic Study, China Study, Seventh Day Adventist Study, Framingham Heart Study, Nurses Health Study, the Women’s Health Initiative and all the up-to-date recent studies are distilled into short videos at which is where I go often. Netflix, for some reason that I’m not complaining about, has a few documentaries on nutrition and espouse a plant-based diet. Forks over Knives, What the Health, In Defence of Food, Food Inc., Food Choices, Plant Pure Nation, Cowspiracy, Eating You Alive, Vegucated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead to name a few.

What we eat affects how much energy we have, our mood, can cause disease and cure disease. After an obscene amount of non-vocational research the most cited diets are a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet and Paleo diet. Surprisingly similar, both diets are plant based so eat your freakin’ vegetables and nuts, and both advise removing processed foods, sugars and all dairy! As for the differences, WFPB diets of course don’t consume any meat products whatsoever and the Paleo limits and/or prohibits the consumption grain and beans.

In The Telomere Effect written by two PhD’s, one of whom is a Nobel laureate, is about how the health of our telomeres. Telomeres are the tips of our chromosomes that protect our cells from deterioration. The length of telomeres indicate our health as a whole and the book describes what we can do to keep them healthy. These mention the four pillars I mention here and nutrition is pretty much a plant based diet which allow for a little meat. The Microbiome Solution written by a tenured gastro entomologist and researcher also espouses a plant based diet with the allowance, but not necessary, bit of meat to help promote and maintain our gut bacteria.

Personally, I’m plant-based and my health has improved dramatically and I have the blood work and weight loss to support it. It’s just what is best for me and my family plus the added knowledge about how my eating habit reduces animal suffering and helps our environment also improves my mental health in simply increasing my happiness.


This isn’t news. Move your damn body. Every day! I don’t need to cite a book reference here. I started with a 5 minute stretch video on YouTube and slowly, methodically evolved to a long, two and half hour morning routine. The secret, for me at least, slow, enjoyable(-ish) workouts that is either weight lifting, slow jogging, or yoga and the most important part don’t fucking miss! Every day gift yourself the 5–10 minutes and more when you’re ready. Even if it’s a walk. Want something different to follow? Check out the Wim Hof Method. I loved this course and it helps both the exercise and mindfulness pillars. I continue to do the breathing, stretching and cold showers (don’t worry it’s not that bad!) as a part of my now elaborate morning.


In Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success, and many a Rich Roll Podcast, top athletes, executives and entrepreneurs have proven that sleep can be one of the most productive activities you can invest in. In a cool Stanford Study, when the swim and basketball teams extended their sleep time the swim team improved their sprint times and the basketball team improved their shooting accuracy across the board. Not getting enough sleep can severely impair mental performance and bandwidth which shits all over that productivity badge we show off when we proudly tell our colleagues about our late night work sessions. Get your sleep, the work will be there when you wake up.

If you are having trouble getting to sleep with your mind always being on try what I do. An hour before bed, turn off your devices or at least put them in airplane mode. Don’t use anything with a screen so forget TV or gaming or any social media. I read a book that has nothing to do with work. I like non-fiction, athlete bios, spirituality, to name a few genres. It’s as simple as that.

Find Your Flow

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance and Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work describe profound neurological phenomena they call flow. People like extreme athletes such as Laird Hamilton taking on seventy foot waves and simply knowing how to surf his way out of fatal trouble or wing suit teams negotiating impossible turns at breakneck speeds or achieving what is described as enlightenment in meditation or the simultaneous sense of connection and feeling completely free raving at a concert or EDM festival with tens of thousands of people. Try one or many of these! I haven’t rocked a wing suit, but I do have a daily meditation practice, been to the largest music festivals and I love trying new sports since playing basketball and boxing for many years. I have a friend who describes this feeling when he’s driving his motorcycle and his mind has to be focused on what he’s doing thus reducing mindless distraction. I’ve read the same thing with archery. When you’re learning something new your mind is in it!

The science is in and the evidence continues to mount that a daily mindfulness practice will significantly improve your life. Meditation can improve your overall happiness, your relationships, get better sleep, reduce your stress levels, sharpen your concentration are just some of the benefits of a daily mindfulness practice listed in the link above. Meditation doesn’t have to be dogmatic or any change in any belief system. It’s just a simple (not necessarily easy) few minutes every day. In 10% Happier by Dan Harris, the author tells the story of a highly touted ABC news anchor’s journey from a meltdown in live TV to the top of his game both professionally and personally crediting meditation. Get in some Yoga (try YouTube if you don’t want to go to a class), floating tank, breathing exercises (Wim Hof Method mentioned above), mediation (free apps can help get started), ecstatic dance, flow states in art or sports all can work.
In addition to, not as an alternative, there’s significant evidence for practicing gratitude. The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu describes the merits of gratitude in not only healing pain, but to achieve joy. Practically, there’s a beautiful book, the Five Minute Journal, that I use every morning to write what I am grateful for. Every day it makes a subtle and profound impact.

One of the challenges around starting a mindfulness practice is that we won’t know where it will take you. When you do weights you you’ll get stronger and your muscles will grow. When you sleep right you know you will be clearer less tired throughout the day and when you eat right you know you will feel better. Unless you’ve done it, you’re unsure how it will affect you. I would say to trust the process.

An important thing to note with these pillars is that they are are all symbiotic. Each can help or harm the others. In my experience the tiniest of changes (replacing sugar in my coffee for cinnamon) can evolve into amazing things (lost 40+lbs, can run for hours, feel incredible in all aspects of life).

This post was previously published on Medium.


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