In this 2017 episode from season 2 of the Charlotte-based culinary web series (which coincided with the second Order/Fire Annual Pig Pickin’ hosted by Free Range Brewing), host Marc Jacksina sits down for a 20+ minute conversation with the always-entertaining Sam Jones. Check it out.
Ryan (BBQ Tourist) and Sean (NYC BBQ) from The Smoke Sheet recently joined The BBQ Beat hosted by Kevin Sandridge to discuss the current state of barbecue during the pandemic, from when festivals may actually happen again to the meat shortage to more folks grilling or smoking at home while they are sheltering in place. This was my first exposure to BBQ Beat but looks to be a live show/video podcast worth checking out again in the future.
Starting in Lenoir County, NC and making stops elsewhere in North Carolina as well as Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, Chef Vivian Howard seeks to expand her barbecue palette beyond eastern North Carolina whole hog and barbecued chicken.
I do love that while Chef Howard visits her good friend Sam Jones at Skylight Inn, she highlights the side of barbecue not often seen in barbecue media from turkey barbecue that’s becoming increasingly popular in African American communities to female pitmasters in a male dominated field to smoked fish to restaurants in Texas that celebrate the fusion of barbecue from different cultures.
At the very least, be sure to luxuriate in the Florida section where Chef Howard attends a “Cracker barbecue” (21:20) – don’t worry, they explain the name – as well as a smoked mullet competition (25:14).
Southerners are particular about the way they cook and eat barbecue. No dish says eastern North Carolina more than the region’s signature whole hog barbecue; however, the art of cooking meat over fire and smoke is one shared by all cultures. On a tour of eastern North Carolina barbecue joints, Vivian is reminded of traditions that define the area’s version of pork barbecue while being introduced to new techniques.
Flipping what she already knows about ‘cue, Vivian sets out to uncover buried barbecue histories and to learn about the unexpected ways that different types of meat are smoked, pit-cooked, wood-fired and eaten. We learn that barbecue—both the food and the verb— cannot be pigeonholed into one definition. On her journey starting from the whole-hog pits in her figurative backyard, Vivian learns the history of Black barbecue entrepreneurship, from the North Carolina families who started turkey barbecue to the women firing up pits in Brownsville and Memphis, Tennessee.
Curious about other iterations, Vivian travels to the west coast of Florida, where a storied “Cracker” history at a smoked mullet festival drastically changes her perspective on Southern ‘cue. She then heads further south to Texas, where robust barbecue techniques steeped in tradition are being morphed by longtime Texas families doing what they know best. This includes a pair of sisters in the small southern Texas town of San Diego adding a Tejano touch to their barbecue joint menu, and two Japanese-Texan brothers with a smokehouse that pairs brisket and bento boxes.
I highly recommend this short 15-minute documentary from the Southern Foodways Alliance on a recent barbecue connection made in Birmingham, AL when Rodney Scott BBQ expanded there in 2019. While barbecue is at the heart of the documentary, it’s about so much more.
FULL CIRCLE tells the story of Rodney Scott, of Charleston, SC, founder of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ. And Roscoe Hall, of Birmingham, AL, grandson of the founder of Dreamland Bar-B-Que in nearby Tuscaloosa, who now manages the Birmingham location of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ. Both men grew up in the barbecue business. And both men now carry forward a legacy of African American knowledge and labor. This is a story about generational transfer, black entrepreneurship, and the future of barbecue in the Deep South.