Sam Jones is as entertaining as ever, and its good to hear from his friend and business partner Michael Letchworth on how he got into the barbecue game.
Having grown up in a family whose history in barbecue could be traced back to the 1800’s, whole hog cooking was something that had always been a part of Sam Jones’ world. Despite being reluctant to make barbecue a career as young man, Sam returned to the business full time when his grandfather Pete Jones, founder of Skylight Inn, became ill.
Sam navigated Skylight Inn through tough times after Pete’s death and helped make the business thrive and prosper. Sam has a strong business mind and wanted to create a restaurant of his own, still focused on whole hog cooked the traditional way over wood burned down to coals, but something that would stand on its own and not be seen as a carbon copy of the now famous Skylight Inn.
Together with his longtime friend and business partner Michael Letchworth, they opened Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, North Carolina in the fall of 2015. Check out part one of our interview with Sam and Michael where we discuss the history of Skylight Inn and its unique way of cooking and serving whole hog, and how the mindset of not being afraid to ask questions and to learn lead to the eventual creation of better processes for running a successful business and brand.
A short feature on Sam Jones, Skylight Inn, and his recently resurrected family barbecue pit from My Home, NC
Everyone has an opinion of their favorite North Carolina barbeque and what method or sauce is best. There are families who have been cooking BBQ for generations. Sam Jones cut his teeth at his granddaddy’s legendary restaurant, Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, NC. Now he is hard at work keeping his family’s legacy alive for a new generation of whole hog enthusiasts. My Home, NC talks to him about his restaurant Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville and his love for traveling the world preaching and teaching the finer points of the Jones family’s BBQ gospel at cooking events.
– A feature on Sauceman’s brazilian pitmaster Edgar Simoes (though whats with the question about sauces?)
– Former Red Bridges pitmaster Phil Schenk passed away earlier this month at the age of 74
– Later this month, Big Tiny’s BBQ in Mooresville celebrates two years of being open
– With its 5 locations, Midwood Smokehouse is on this list of chain restaurants that started in Charlotte
– A writeup on Rashad Lee, barbecue tv personality and owner of Big Lee’s BBQ truck in Ocala, FL
– A roundup of barbecue books released so far this year
– The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot food writer Matthew Korfhage waxes poetic on the “some of the best pulled pork in the known universe” two hours away from him in eastern NC – B’s Barbecue and Skylight Inn
Sure, there are other famous eastern-style whole-hog barbecue spots – most notably Wilber’s in neighboring Wayne County, where presidents have dined and owner Wilber Shirley still presides over his restaurant, as he has for more than 50 years.
But a morning drive down winding, wooded roads to B’s and Skylight – hitting both stops along the way – is one of life’s most unmitigated pleasures, one I’ve only just discovered and will repeat many times before I’m through.
– Speaking of The Virginian-Pilot, good find from Robert Moss from that paper from 1935
– I think this is a pretty big deal. I may be mistaken, but I can’t recall in my 6 years of paying attention Stamey’s advertising their longtime Degar (from central Vietnam) pitmaster Chhanuon Ponn so prominently (though I know they have his photo up in the restaurant).
– Bob Garner’s latest is on Skylight Inn, Bum’s Restaurant, Sam Jones BBQ, and six generations of barbecue in Pitt County:
The owners of The Skylight Inn, Bum’s Restaurant and Sam Jones BBQ all trace their beginnings to common ancestor Skilten Dennis, who began selling barbecue to camp meeting groups around Ayden from the back of a covered wagon sometime in the mid-1800s.
– Huckberry has a short profile on Rodney Scott as well as his banana pudding recipe in their latest catalog
– Garden & Gun writes up Texas A&M’s Barbecue University but they gotta give NC State’s BBQ Camp some love!
– Food writer Peter Meehan (recently of “Ugly Delicious” fame): “Entering a National Barbecue Competition Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”
I became a guy who was “into barbecue,” which, for as true as it is, is still somewhat painful to type. Talking Heads had told us that day was coming, when you wake up and ask yourself, Well, how did I get here?
– Food & Wine on how Jess Pryles became a hardcore carnivore
– Food & Wine also features several other women of barbecue in their latest issue: Pat Mares of Ruby’s BBQ in Austin and Laura Loomis of Two Bros BBQ in San Antonio
– Food Republic: “Do yourself a favor this summer and learn to properly barbecue tofu”
Me: “I’m good”
– Daniel Vaughn remembers Anthony Bourdain
A few months ago, we posted the first video in David Dawei’s NC barbecue roadtrip last summer at B’s BBQ in Greenville. Here’s his second stop (of ten total) at the world famous Skylight Inn in Ayden.
This is my second stop in North Carolina on the BBQ Tour. SkyLight Inn is located in Ayden. This place has people driving from all parts to eat it. The Pork (as served) was a little too smoky for my taste – 7.5/10 The BBQ Sauce – I did not care for either one – 4/10 The Cole Slaw was tasty, but a bit too sweet for my taste- 7.5/10 The Corn Bread – interesting, but not worth the carbs – 7/10 Overall Value = 8/10
A short video from Bob Garner on Sam Jones continuing the legacy of his famous barbecue family.
Update: I re-watched the video and found it to be pretty light on actual barbecue content and more of a commercial for the car.
BuzzFeed takes a 6-stop barbecue roadtrip through North and South Carolina to visit some great and iconic joints: Buxton Hall Barbecue, Lexington Barbecue, Skylight Inn, Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Sweatman’s BBQ, and Lewis Barbecue.
– More on fair food at the NC State Fair (which starts tomorrow) and whoops:
Only one of the dishes I tried was outright bad, and that was the barbecue-and-coleslaw waffle sandwich. It was somehow extraordinarily greasy, even by fair food standards, and the barbecue mostly just tasted like smoke.
– The Polar Pig Cook-Off, formerly held in Mount Pleasant (NC), will be held at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center on November 10 and 11; the event will feature vendor tents, a Kids Zone, a beer garden, live music, and the barbecue competition (including a people’s choice award)
– People Food and Zagat have named Skylight Inn the most popular restaurant in NC
– Filing away for future potential use:
– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ explores west Tennessee whole hog and discovers Ramey’s Whole Hog Bar-B-Q in Parsons, about 90 minutes outside of Nashville
– 45 years ago Monday:
– Way to go, Ace Biscuit & Barbecue: owner Brian Ashworth kicks Nazis out of his restaurant in Charlottesville
– Jamie Foxx made a stop at Stamey’s last week while in town for a Global Entrepreneurs convention at the Greensboro Coliseum across the street
– Carrboro’s got a new upscale yuppie-que joint called CrossTies Barbecue, which is housed in a vintage refurbished railroad car
– As we North Carolinians have known for centuries, barbecue needs acid not sugar
– Tasting Table: American Barbecue Is the Next Big International Food Trend
– Aaron Franklin has no plans to ever open a second location; there just aren’t enough cows
It takes 53 cows per day to keep up with current operations, and these are a special kind of cow. “I even struggle now to get enough [brisket],” he adds. The market is so small that when fast-food chain Arby’s hopped on the brisket trend, it drove up the cost of brisket for Franklin by $2. “We don’t use commodity brisket at all,” he explains. “But once the commodity supply runs out, then people start trying to upgrade, and that’s where we got into trouble.”
– Eater Nashville has a preview of Pat Martin’s new fast food burger and barbecue restaurant, Hugh Baby’s BBQ and Burger Shop opening in late August
– Marie takes over for Grant on their visit to some old favorite joints in Athens, GA
– The “metro Greenville, NC” area (LOL) get’s a shoutout in SI’s Andy Staples and his “America’s Best College Town Meals” column; there are also a few other barbecue spots highlighted for other college towns
If you want to really do it right, spoon some of that pork between two pieces of cornbread. The bread lives somewhere between loaf and cake, and a bite that mixes that bread, that pork and those delectable cracklins is about as close to heaven as we can get here on Earth.
– One man’s quest to ruin it for everyone else; complaints of air pollution from Little Richard’s BBQ in Winston-Salem:
Someone has been emailing for months officials with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, the Forsyth County Department of Environmental Assistance and Protection, me, state legislators, Ask SAM and anyone else within electronic earshot about “the plume from the 3 unregulated point source smoke stacks” that sends a “cloud of unmitigated (carbon monoxide) and particulate matter” into the atmosphere.
– Congrats to Rodney Scott’s BBQ, named one of 50 finalists for Bon Apetit’s Best New Restaurants in America 2017
– As expected, the Southeast Tourism Society has named The Barbecue Festival one of the top 20 events in the Southeast for October 2017
– Coverage of Skylight Inn turning 70 last weekend from the News & Observer and WNCT
– The 4th Annual Pigs & Pedals BBQ cooking competition is in Asheboro this weekend, with a new People’s Choice Competition
– Barbecue the documentary comes to Netflix in August in glorious 4k
– An “American Regional Barbecue Cheat Sheet from Tasting Table” though they don’t quite get the North Carolina section right
– This week’s latest Cheerwine story