Monk: Greenville, SC has added a heavy hitter in barbecue today as Lewis Barbecue has opened the doors of its second location. John Lewis has taken over the former 30-year location of Tommy’s Ham House, and even earned the blessing of owner Tommy Stevenson. The original Charleston location earned a 4.5 hogs from both Speedy and Monk in separate visits in 2017 and 2018.
Eater Carolinas has all the behind the scenes information:
Lewis Barbecue is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Midwood Smokehouse has made it to the finals of the News & Observer Barbecue Bracket against Wilber’s Barbecue; voting ends Thursday, 9/15 at noon
Chopped vs pulled: who you got?!?!?
Three pitmasters – Dr. Dana Hanson of NC State, Michael Markham of Big Mike’s BBQ in Raleigh, and Matthew Register of Southern Smoke – give their tips for backyard smokers and beginners
Adrian Miller joins the Southern Foodways Alliance Fall Symposium
I haven’t listened yet but I’m already pre-jealous of the Tales from the Pits epic bourbon and barbecue roadtrip
Kerlin BBQ in Austin had its last day of service after 9 years this past week
Monk: On a perfect spring day in a perfect setting, the first annual Carolina BBQ Festival capped off Barbecue Month in style at the Boileryard at Camp North End in Charlotte in late May.
My hopes were high, as I had previously written, and I was heartened to see that first the VIP then the General Admission tickets sold out in the weeks ahead of the festival. As someone who can now be considered a longtime Charlottean (having lived here for 17+ years), sometimes you can never tell whether Charlotte is going to show up for a brand new festival but Lewis Donald and team can build off a sold out festival going into next year’s edition.
Of course, the big selling point for the festival was the barbecue talent rubbing elbows together, and on that front it did not disappoint.
The biggest lines on the day were for former Charlottean Bryan Furman’s whole hog served with his signature bourbon peach sauce that pulled from his current Georgia roots. Tay Nelson of Bobby’s BBQ in Fountain Inn, SC handled the sides of slaw and an almost dessert-like sweet potato side dish that seemed to be a fan favorite.
Elliot Moss built a behemoth cinder block pit on the Boileryard grounds and smoked his eastern NC (though more accurately SC Pee Dee-style) whole hogs overnight. Matt Register of Southern Smoke brought the elevated sides of a BBQ saltine cracker casserole with a tomato salad and cornbread.
Not to be outdone, Nathan Monk, the 3rd generation pitmaster of Lexington Barbecue, brought a bunch of Lexington-style pork shoulders and red slaw smoked the night before in the storied Lexington Barbecue pits while Brandon Shepherd of Shepherd’s Barbecue in Emerald Isle handled the sides of Mexican street corn and baked beans.
For those fortunate enough to snag a VIP ticket, Jon G’s brought the heat with their beef rib croissant and jalapeno cheddar grits with a burnt end garnish while Sweet Lew’s provided a pickled ramp sausage and cheesy potatoes and a side of his version of hash and rice.
Oysters were provided by North Sea Oyster Co and Crystal Coast Oysters. Oysters plus a couple of mimosas or bloody marys made for a very filling experience for VIP customers, for sure.
Before I go any further, I should pause to give props to all of the pitmasters who came from all over NC and the southeast, many of which were running off of a lack of sleep due to running their restaurants or handling catering gigs. Not to mention the hogs provided by Ronald Simmons and Master Blend Family Farms.
On the entertainment front, several local bands kept the crowd entertained. Carolina Gator Gumbo started off the afternoon with their cajun creole music before giving way to Justin Fedor & the Denim Denim. Fedor, who also spends time in Charlotte psych-rock band Ancient Cities, channels his country-rock troubadour in this band of his. Finally, Emanuel Wynter capped off the afternoon with his unique blend of his violin skills with a talented band behind him switching easily between genres. In between sets, DJ That Guy Smitty kept the crowd’s heads bopping with his mix of funky and soulful tunes.
As successful as the debut festival was, next year I’d like to see a second wave of customers enter after the initial rush moves through because while there are lengthy lines for the first hour or two, there was not as much activity at the tents in hours 3 and 4 while there was still plenty of food. No doubt Lewis and team are working through that and more tweaks for next year’s festival.
Speaking of which, Lewis told me he has even bigger and better plans for next year’s edition, and I can’t wait until he unveils them to the public. The first Carolina BBQ Festival was certainly a great start to what hopefully becomes a Spring tradition in Charlotte. For me, it more than delivered on its promise to put Charlotte barbecue on the map.
A couple of the pitmasters for the upcoming Carolina Barbecue Festival in Charlotte on May 22nd: Bryan Furman and Matthew Register
Not to be outdone, the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival has been announcing pitmasters for the Prieto Pitmaster Invitational at its festival, including Brandon Shepard of Shepard Barbecue, Melanie Dunia of The Pit, Ron Simmons of Master Blend Family Farms, and Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Noble Smoke’s stall has opened at Optimist Hall as of Monday, 3/14
Jon G’s will be smoking meat for a barbecue and wine event on the last day of the Charlotte Wine & Food Festival
Pretty cool: actor Eric Wareheim made it all the way from LA to Peachland for a Barbecue Saturday last weekend
Blake’s BBQ has its final days in the trailer this week
In Austin for SXSW?
The latest reader-generated list from Southern Living
Instead of this year’s Barbecue Festival the 4th weekend in October in Lexington, the organizers behind the festival are instead holding a food and blood drive to benefit the community. The Barbecue Center, Smiley’s Barbecue, Smokey Joe’s BBQ, and Stamey’s Barbecue (the one in Tyro) are all participating by setting up donation tents where non-perishable items or blood can be exchanged for barbecue sandwiches. “Lift Up Lexington” is a positive spin on a barbecue festival cancellation.
From the press release:
On Saturday, October 24th, when more than 125,000 people were expected to gather in Uptown Lexington for the 37th Annual Barbecue Festival, local businesses and organizations will join the festival organizers in utilizing “festival day” to uplift the community.
With an emphasis on giving back and the city’s world-famous barbecue heritage, Lift Up Lexington (#liftUPlex) will include two components: a food drive and blood drive. Event organizers will have seven drop off locations for the food drive which will benefit Pastor’s Pantry. Those who wish to contribute are asked to bring a minimum of five new, unexpired non-perishable items. Requested items include can goods, cereal, pasta & crackers.Read more here
Clyde Cooper’s Back starting today
Southern Smoke BBQ‘s collards chowder is featured in Saveur magazine
Midwood Smokehouse, Stamey’s Barbecue, and several other barbecue restaurants appear on this list of places where presidents and presidential candidates have eaten in North Carolina
B’s Barbecue makes this list of things to do in Greenville, NC
Reminder: you can order Picnic by 3pm today and pick it up in front of the future Wyatt’s Barbecue in Raleigh on Thursday
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