A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from November 08, 2010
“If you’re looking, you’re not cooking” (“If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’”)

“If/when you’re looking, you’re not cooking” (or “If/when you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’”) is a barbecue rule not to constantly look under the lid of the grill. The rule applies to slow cookers as well as outdoor smoking. Looking under the lid reduces the temperature and increases cooking time.
“When you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’” has been cited in print since at least 1998 and is of unknown authorship.
24 May 1998, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, “Baptism by barbecue! Cooks immerse themselves in all things pork,” pg. M1:
When you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’.
RE: The Most Worthless/Useful Gadgets
Tue, 12/9/03 11:21 AM
I have such a gadget and use it most frequently on my Holland Grill (“if you’re looking, you’re not cooking”) thereby allowing me to keep the lid closed all the way until whatever is being grilled, smoked or steamed reaches its finished temperature (notified by an audible alarm on the thermometer reader itself).
12-12-2003, 10:36 AM
You really have to keep an eye on food that you cook naked, however, which is hard on a Holland type grill, because “if you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’”.
Georgia Outdoor News Forum   
09-26-2005, 12:03 PM
i have a holland, 15 years old, never a flare-up, close it up and walk away(when you’re looking you’re not cooking!), mines not stainless, whatever you get buy a cover…...
Friday, January 20, 2006
3 racks 3 rubs 3 steps 3 results
Now, put the lid of the Weber Smokey Mountain and walk away. Yes, walk away. One of the most common mistakes in barbeque-ing is that the cook can’t walk away. He has to open the lid and look. And touch. And poke. Well, as my friend Chad at the BBQ-Brethren says, “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.” He’s right. Everytime you take the lid off a cooker, you reduce the temperature of the cooker and increase the cooking time. So go do something with your family.
Komodo Kamado Ceramic Forum
Re: First Pork Butt
by leejp » Wed Aug 08, 2007 11:37 am
Save yourself the trouble… No need to mop. Let the KK do the work. With very little airflow going through the cooker, the moisture will stay in the cooker. You’re probably losing more moisture by opening up the cooker every hour vs letting it be. If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.
Google Books
Cheater BBQ
By Mindy Merrell and R. B. Quinn
New York, NY: Broadway Books
Pg. 3: 
Just like outdoor smoking, if you’re looking, you ain’t cooking. Keep the slow cooker lid shut and the oven door closed and resist the temptation to poke around the meat.
The BBQ Brethren Forums
02-19-2008, 12:54 AM
The old saying is “If you’re lookin, you ain’t cookin”.
Google Books
June 2008, Men’s Health, pg. 172:
Avoid opening the lid of the grill at all costs. As Mitchell says, “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.”
New York (NY) Daily News
Some ways to cheat at barbecue
By Rachel Wharton
Thursday, August 28th 2008, 3:19 PM
Most professional barbecuers will tell you that the bulk of the work is just leaving the meat untouched to cook slowly. “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking,” jokes Quinn about the common saying. With “Cheater BBQ,” you’re doing the same thing with an oven or crock pot, he says: “putting on the cover and leaving it alone.” In fact, he adds, “going to bed or going to work is the key for [cheater] barbecue.”
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Smoked Eggs
My fire was running at 225 and the maple and apple smoke really smelled wonderful on this fall afternoon. There’s an old saying in barbecue, “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.” So I resisted the urge and kept the smoker covered for the full hour Adam recommends.
Time magazine
Taste of America
Five Things Americans Need to Know About Barbecue

By Josh Ozersky Tuesday, Jul. 27, 2010
3. If You’re Looking, You’re Not Cooking
Beginning barbecuers are often tempted to check in often on their meat, to make sure it’s still there. Don’t worry. It’s not going anywhere. Ideally, you should leave it alone the whole time, but a kettle-style grill like a Weber requires you to periodically replace charcoal. The second you lift the lid, you lose much of the heat — and you don’t get it back right away. Imagine trying to do your taxes and having to stop every 15 minutes to answer stupid questions about domestic issues like where the scissors are. That’s what you are doing to your meat when you keep checking on it. Keep your interruptions to a minimum. Think of the great home cooks you know. Do they bustle nervously over every dish? No. The better they are, the less they seem to do. That’s how barbecue is — times 10.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, November 08, 2010 • Permalink

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