The Flip Flop Chef, or as we like to refer to him ‘Andy Flippin Moeckel’, is easily one of the most interesting and entertaining people you’ll ever meet: a road warrior, hunting guide and expert camp chef. Andy’s affable nature and love of bringing people together, along with his passion for hunting collide when he prepares his family’s generations-old recipe for wild game that has become a cornerstone of the Moeckel family tradition.
The Flip Flop is the west Marin County way of cooking a whole bone-in quarter of deer, antelope or wild sheep over an open flame, but there's much more to this family tradition than just cooking method and mouthwatering meat. It’s about heritage and the experience of bringing something from the field to your dinner table to share with friends and loved ones.
This unique recipe and method is steeped in tradition and community camaraderie. The Portuguese immigrants that settled in Marin County in the 1800's brought with them close-knit communities and traditional cuisine such as the Flip Flop. From there, other sheep and cattle ranching families adopted this new-to-them cooking method as part of their local culture. In the 1950's Andy’s grandfather Al Giddings tried out the West Marin flip flop method for his first time. Al, a game warden for the state of California and accomplished hunter, concocted a secret marinade for wild game, and applied it to a whole bone-in quarter with a rosemary sprig brush, then cooked it over a hot bed of coals. Like all great masterpieces, what appears simple today actually required repeated fine tuning and years of experimentation. Beginning as a utilitarian preparation, the Moeckel FlipFlop has become a legendary contribution to the age-old craft of preparing food over fire.
Flip, Flop, Repeat.
Once you get the quarter on the Burch Barrel and one side has enough of its outer layer seared and cooked, flip the quarter over and flop it down. Meat from the cooked side is thinly sliced onto a sourdough dinner roll and served. From there, reapply the marinade to the cut side and the flip-flopping process continues until you’ve cooked and sliced your way all the way down to the bone.
The lineage of tradition continues from Andy’s grandfather, father and now to him. Like most family traditions, the style hasn’t changed much since its inception, but it continues as a right of passage for the next generation. In fact, the exclusive use of a Burch Barrel for cooking has been the only radical development since 1961. Still, after all these years, Moeckel Flip Flop’s have only gotten better and the experience is unlike anything else you will be a part of.
There are three essential aspects of the authentic Moeckel Flip Flop that separates it from all other wannabe flip flop methods. First, never source meat from a butcher, only from the field. “To assume that you could source meat from a butcher that would ever compare to a deer quarter is preposterous” in Andy’s opinion. “Wild game only!”
The second aspect of the Flip Flop is specific to the Moeckel formula for hospitality. The ritual of experience and excitement that Andy brings to the process creates a real community of engagement over your food, and he delivers it with awesome energy. Whether the quarter comes from a personal harvest or from a client’s, there's a guarantee that Andy will show them the fun of taking an animal from field to table.
The final aspect of what makes the Moeckel family Flip Flop so unique is the secret family marinade. It’s been on lock down since 1961 and will remain secret as long as Andy is at the helm. So, if you ask if you can have the recipe to use for yourself, he will politely and with a smile on his face respond by saying “No F-king way”. And while you may be able to copy the Moeckel ritual for steps 1 and 2, the 3rd is something unique to you and your family, that only the bonds of Food Fire and Friends can create.
Technical Tip for the Flip Flop
“One of the most important parts of cooking choice cuts of meat for me.... Is the heat! Sear, sear, sear!!! My barrel throws better heat then any open fire or charcoal grill I have ever used and while spitting out all that heat the outside of the barrel remains safe for children to be around with out worry.” -Andy Moeckel