Coal and Ash Give Chefs New Ingredients to Work With

Maisie Wilhelm

Live-fire cooking? “You may think of that roaring, flaming thing,” says Rick Bayless, “[but] this is not that. You don’t build a bonfire and burn everything on it. That’s frat-boy cooking.”

Bayless notes that in the Baja region of Mexico, “any chef worth his or her salt has a huge hearth cooking over live fire.” The Aztec grill at his Chicago restaurant Leña Brava (“ferocious wood”) runs six fires on 22...