– [Brent] Oh! (laughing) – He’s my mess to clean up every day. Hey. We’re at Maydan today. – We’re gonna make a big fire, and cook some meat over it. – And we’ll talk about life. Let’s go. (rock music) My confidence never wavered. Hey. We’re at Maydan in
Washington D.C., with Chris. Chris, wave! And Gerald. Gerald, wave! And Brent. Brent, wave! And we’re gonna learn how
to cook over open fire, on all of these contraptions that I have no idea what they do. But first we gotta make a fire. You get in in the morning,
you have your coffee, then this is what you do. – Basically, nothing really
starts until this happens. We have it pretty dialed in to a science, as far as how we build it. But it took a while to get there. – If you don’t layer them properly, or you use too big of
logs to get it started, you can run into trouble. I mean, you can see now, Gerald’s got a bunch of smaller logs. We kind of hand-select the logs
we wanna use to start them. You wanna get a lot of oxygen. – Yeah, yeah.
– If you try to build it too much, nothing’s gonna happen. If the logs are too big, it’ll
be hard for them to catch. These are all pretty small, so like, by the time the bottom is lit
and all this paper lights, this will all light pretty easily, and then we can start
adding the bigger logs. – This box in the center is more like your traditional fire box, which feeds that front grill. And then this one, here.
– This is for– – This bit is left lower,
and uses more ambient heat to service this entire top
area of things roasting. But also, to feed this and the ovens. – So, how we feeling about this fire? – I think we’re good, it’s
basically maintaining itself. Kind of where we want it to be. Let everything get hot,
burn down to nice embers. (smooth music) – Where did the whole Middle
Eastern inspiration come from? – We traveled a lot before
opening the restaurant, and we thought about this
sort of more broad context of food from all over the place. We thought, like, well, it
kind of actually makes sense to serve food from Morocco to Iran. We just felt that all that food would eat very well together. – Gerald and I, growing
up in northern Virginia, large part of my high school was Iranian. You know, fortunate enough
to experience Iranian food in people’s homes at a younger age. – Home cooking.
– Home cooking. – Oh, that’s awesome. – Which drove our minds in one direction, in terms of, we have to go
to that part of the world and try food as it’s
cooked in people’s houses, and then bring those traditions home, paying homage to traditions and recipes that we were taught or shown. (smooth music) – Alright, while we wait for
the fire to get nice and hot, we’re gonna prep our rib eye. This is, like, a Georgian spiced rib eye. – So, first question. What makes this rib eye Georgian? – So, the spicing we use. So, we use blue fenugreek, which is a specific type
of fenugreek from Georgia. It’s one of the most typical spices there. You just see it in everything. And then ajika, which is
a Georgian chile powder. We mix it together with
the fenugreek and it’s, I don’t know, I think a
pretty interesting rub. Anyway, so we’re gonna
cut steaks out of this. Which we’re not gonna weigh, but I’m feeling pretty
good about that one. That’s probably a little big.
– That’s a pretty big steak. – So, we’ll trim it down just a tiny bit. – [Ben] That’s a big guy. – So, this is our rub. It’s the blue fenugreek and ajika. This, actually, I brought
back from Georgia. We just did a dinner there. – Really? – And then went and
traveled to Armenia after. And we basically found the
guy in their big market who sells the highest quality of this, that he picks in the mountain himself. He grinds it for you in front of you. I brought back, like, eight kilos of it. It’s really hard to find here, so. We found that, because it
is spiced really heavily, we don’t really wanna use
a really big open flame. So, we cook it on the most
gentle part of the grill, over a very slow ember. And I find, that way, the fat renders a little bit
more slowly on the rib eye. You don’t burn the spices. I think it comes out
really, really nicely. – Well, I mean, honestly, you know, Ben and I talk about this. This is kind of, like, blasphemous for us. – Yeah, for sure.
– Because, like, the steaks that we sell, we just recommend salt and pepper, because every steak is almost
like a learning experience. Like, you wanna know. You know where it came
from, but based on the age, and the fat, and all of the things, we wanna be able to give
the farmer feedback, all of that stuff. We don’t recommend it, but this seems like a really fun delicacy. – Yeah, this has been
really different for us, because neither Chris or I
are Middle Eastern at all. And we really wanna embrace
the traditions before us. So, that’s been really important for us, is trying to learn old recipes. And people are always gonna
tell us that something’s wrong. And that’s fine. Because it’s such a
small part of the world, and there’s so many different
countries and villages, people will be like, no, no, no, no, that’s not how my grandmother
did it, or how we did it where I’m from.
– Yeah. – But people will tell me all the time that they hate something and
it should be done this way, and often, I’ll try it. I’ll listen to anyone. I’m not the expert. It’s such a personal thing,
this food, that for me to say, oh, you know, whatever.
– Yeah, “No, “I’m doing it the right way.” – Yeah, like, I’m not. Like, I don’t know anything. (smooth music) – The beauty of live fire cooking, and part of the difficulty, is like, theoretically, if I wanted, I could stack all this to one side, if I really wanted to
get color on something. See how the flame immediately starts shooting through the top, you know. Shake it out. I could fan it. If you took an infrared thermometer and took the temp of that, you would notice that it
skyrockets at least 300 degrees with the fanning process. – Whoa.
– Really? – Yeah.
– Huh. – Anyway, so. (metallic clanging)
– Like, you can barely hear a sizzle on that. – Yeah. Well, the idea, which I
think a lot of people. You know, you have to be really careful, especially with the size of the steak. So, Gerald and I both agree that a gentle cook is much preferable. And albeit, that’s
crazy close to the fire. But it’s not, if I move it to here, there’s a risk that there’s
not enough ambient heat. – Yep.
– So, it’s almost serving like an oven, if you think
about it that way, right? You have all this top temperature, that’s kind of encapsulating
the beef itself. – We should say, just
standing here, it is– – Yeah.
– Radiating a lot of heat. – Oh, it’s hot.
– My face is incredibly hot. (laughing)
– Yeah, yeah. Oh, dude, it gets, this isn’t even– – You do this for six hours a night? – Yep, and we love it. And then, you know, you’ll
just add wood as you need to. But yeah, it’s pretty simple, but we, you know, I
thoroughly believe that, cooking over a fire, you really can’t get
better flavor than that. – [Ben] This is a show. – That’s kind of another
part of the thing, is like, we wanted to create this feeling of a maydan being, as it’s used, the word’s used
throughout the Middle East, in North Africa, and the
Caucasus, as well as Russia. Downstairs of our restaurant
is intended to be this, like, gathering place, or town square type feel. – It is kind of amazing,
and I’m kind of curious, did you mean by creating
what, essentially, you described as like
a town hall experience, were you really inviting that
interaction with customers? – We were trying to, yeah. I mean, given our experience
abroad, it made sense. We had so many amazing
experiences while traveling that were tied to insane
levels of hospitality that you just don’t see here. One of the things I love
about this restaurant is, we’re really not trying
to recreate anything, or reinvent anything. We’re literally just trying to, it’s just sheer inspiration and love. – Do you see Maydan as primarily, like, a food-focused business, or a hospitality-focused business? – I think those go hand in hand. I think hospitality, food is hospitality. You know? Food is… For me, I mean, people
may feel differently, I think food is the most comforting thing in the world for me. (smooth music) – [Ben] Oh, yeah. Guys, I don’t mean to spoil it, but this is gonna be good.
– Cool. – Go ahead, eat.
– Who’s going first? – [Gerard] I encourage
the lack of utensils. – Woo!
– Yeah. – I could eat just that. Just over and over and over. That is so good. Oh my god, those spices are incredible. – So nice. I think the patience really pays off. – Yeah.
– Like, it’s nice. It’s perfectly cooked.
– Yeah. – No brown edges, like, really wonderful. – Gerald, Chris, thank you guys so much for this.
– Thank you so much. – Absolutely amazing.
– Super happy y’all stopped by, for sure. – You guys have some amazing food. You’ve created an amazing,
amazing experience. This is fantastic. Thank you so much.
– Absolutely. Come back. – For more episodes of
Prime Time, click here. – Yeah. This could be you.
– Very well balanced. It’s nice.
– This could be you.