“Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque” Tells the Story of the Man as well as the Black Experience in the South

Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.

Monk: While Ed Mitchell’s The Preserve barbecue restaurant is still yet to announce its long-awaited opening in Raleigh, Ed and his son Ryan have stayed busy writing and releasing a barbecue cookbook co-written by them with author, filmmaker, and scholar (among many other things) Zella Palmer. But the book is so much more than your standard barbecue cookbook with recipes. Interwoven throughout is the history of Ed “The Pitmaster” Mitchell and his family in eastern NC as well as stories from the past to illustrate the black experience in the South, whether its the barbecue, tobacco, farming, or fishing.

The hardcover book is a gorgeously assembled book with Baxter Miller’s beautiful color photography of the Mitchells and the food for each recipe. Speaking of the food, in addition to the standard barbecue recipes you would expect – whole hog, brisket, ribs, chicken, etc – Ed really explores eastern NC recipes of dishes and sides through his family history and his experiences. Touchingly, many of the dishes are named for prominent black figures in his life.

From a storytelling angle, Ed tells his side of a couple of notable stories throughout chapters in the book – the time he went to prison for 30 days for not paying sales tax for his Wilson family restaurant (it should be noted that he later successfully sued the bank for racial discrimination and wrongful foreclosure), meeting Anthony Bourdain early in his fledgling media career, beating Bobby Flay at ribs, going to Oxford, MS to meet John T. Edge and the Southern Foodways Alliance, and his many years attending the Big Apple Block Party while only receiving on a small stipend for his efforts.

But Ed’s isn’t the only voice you read throughout the book. Other members of the Mitchell family get a chance to tell their story, including his son Ryan as well as his younger brothers Aubrey and Stevie. His mom Doretha in particular is a trip and essentially takes over the dessert chapter in the back of the book with her tales. And outside of the Mitchell family, the prologue features notable contributions in the form of introductory chapters by co-author Zella Palmer (whose family’s roots are in Eastern NC), Wilson, NC historian Lisa Y. Henderson, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance John T. Edge, and barbecuer/rocket scientists Dr. Howard Conyers.

Unfortunately, as of the writing of this post Ed Mitchell’s The Preserve still doesn’t have an opening date in Raleigh but the website still indicates a 2023 opening. I hope Ed Mitchell is able to soon open his restaurant and that it is successful, because the barbecue world is better when he’s actively cooking in it. Until then, “Ed Mitchell’s Barbecue” is a worthy read and deserving of shelf space in your bookcase.

Linkdown: 3/8/23 – The “Cooking with Gas” Edition


Monk: Southern Living readers pick their favorite barbecue in each state in the South for the annual “Best in the South” issue. While Robert Moss provides a foreword, please remember that this is a reader chosen list and not his South’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints list. So address your ire at the masses and not Moss’ inbox.

Moss does note that half of the 14 are repeat, with the other half being new to the list. For North Carolina, the reader’s pick this year was Lexington Barbecue but it was not a repeat winner as last year’s choice was Buxton Hall Barbecue.

Check out the Southern Living reader’s pick at the link below.

Native News

Steve and Gerri Grady get profiled in the local paper, the Mount Olive Tribune

Eat Raleigh checks in at Longleaf Swine and they are also a fan

Congrats to Black Powder Smokehouse on their Asheboro location, their second store

Midwood Smokehouse is doing pork versions of birria tacos

Tickets are now on sale for the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival taking place Labor Day weekend

Non-Native News

Hector Garate of Palmira BBQ is headed to Austin later this month for a collaboration with Interstellar BBQ

Sweatman’s Barbecue in Holly Hill has made the switch to gas

Howard Conyers is hosting The Roots of BBQ Invitational Memorial Day weekend in Paxville, SC (ticket link)

NYC BBQ checks out the relocated Pig Beach in Queens and found that “the quality has not declined a bit even with the big changes the past few months”

Memphis in May will be back at Tom Lee Park for this year’s event

Friday Find: “Father, Son, Fire: A Chat with Howard and Harrison Conyers”

Monk: Dr. Howard Conyers, a NASA scientist originally from Paxville, South Carolina who attended both NC A&T and Duke University for engineering degrees, is fighting the good fight when it comes to creating awareness of the black contribution to the roots of barbecue. This is a conversation between Howard and his father Harrison, a pivotal figure in his barbecue journey.


Linkdown: 1/27/21


Kingsford Charcoal has announced the “Preserve the Pit” Fellowship to celebrate the Black contribution to barbecue and help aspiring pitmasters through a monetary grant and a hands-on mentorship. That mentorship will be provided by several notable barbecue personalities and pitmasters: Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s BBQ in Compton as well as Netflix’s American Barbecue Showdown, Rashad Jones of Big Lee’s BBQ, Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Devita Davison of the non-profit FoodLab, Amy Mills of 17th Street Barbecue, and Dr. Howard Conyers of PBS’s Nourish.

It’s fantastic to see Kingsford celebrate Black barbecue and put their money where their mouth is with this fellowship investing in the future of it. I look forward to seeing who makes the class of 2021 and what they do with this great opportunity. Applications are due by March 1 and the inaugural class of fellows will be announced in April.

Native News

A sneak peak of Lawrence Barbecue’s setup in Boxyard RTP

Ed Mitchell will be appearing on this panel alongside Dr. Howard Conyers and “Black Smoke” Adrian Miller on February 10

The owner of Shaw’s Barbecue House in Williamston recently saved a longtime customer from choking

The Pit in Raleigh will offer to-go cocktails through the end of January

Kinston’s Kings Restaurant was selected to participate on a rib cookoff for the Drew Barrymore Show; last year King’s sold almost 2 tons worth of ribs

Hmm, now what could we do with a feral hog?!?!

Non-Native News

Stay with me here: Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall will offer “Chucktown-style” barbecue in South Jersey; the owner Charles Soreth was inspired by his trip to Charleston for his Chucktown BBQ pop-up, but no word on what exactly “Chucktown” style is

Brooklyn barbecue restaurants taking part in NYC’s Restaurant Week To Go

How craft barbecue and craft chocolate intersect at Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue

Sweet kicks