Friday Find: Tales from the Pit interviews Sam Jones and Michael Letchworth

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.

Part 2:

Friday Find: “Sam Jones: BBQ Gospel”

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.

Linkdown: 2/21/18

– Congrats to Sam Jones on his James Beard nomination!

– Two other barbecue chefs got nominations as well including Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston and Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX; Ronnie Killen was also nominated but technically for his new steakhouse, Killen’s STQ

– Texas Monthly has more on Tootsie’s nomination

– A new barbecue restaurant recently opened in Darlington, SC named Fahrenheit 225

– Guy Fieri is curating a lineup of “barbecue badasses” for the country music festival Stagecoach in Indio, CA in late Apil – though the actual list itself doesn’t live up to that billing

– Harold Conyers, a NASA scientist who studied engineering at NC A&T for undergrad and Duke for grad, recently gave a keynote at Morris College in South Carolina

– How Frank Scibelli, restaurateur behind Midwood Smokehouse, Mama Ricotta’s, and Paco’s Tacos (and more), works each day

– The folks behind Seoul Food Meat Co are opening a korean barbecue restaurant next door, targeting later this month

– Owner Rob Berrier announced last month that the Little Richard’s BBQ stores on County Club Drive in Winston-Salem and in Wallburg have changed their names to Real Q; the remaining four Little Richard’s locations separately owned by Nick Karagiorgis and his son Stavros will keep the Little Richard’s name. Read more for the somewhat confusing history behind the ownership of the different locations at the link below.

 

Friday Find: Bob Garner Visits Sam Jones BBQ

On a recent NC Weekend, Bob Garner (North Carolina’s “barbecue man”) visits Sam Jones BBQ and also tries the new Our State BBQ NC app (our post on it here). According to Bob, the surroundings may be different but the barbecue is “right where it’s always been” (referring to Sam Jones also being the pitmaster at Skylight Inn). But a major difference is Sam is also doing spare ribs, turkey, and chicken at his new place along with multiple side options and beer. And according to Bob, he is “blending the best of what’s old and what’s new.” I really need an excuse to make it out east soon.

Linkdown: 11/18/15

– Congrats to Sam Jones on the opening of his new barbecue joint in Greenville, NC last week and continuing the tradition of wood-cooked barbecue

A decade back, those of us who make a living writing about and documenting barbecue were worried. Honest, wood-cooked barbecue was imperiled, we said. Pitmasters who dedicated their lives to firing pits and flipping hogs were atavistic, we worried, wheezing their way toward foregone retirement.

I’m pleased to report that we seers of ‘cue were wrong. We lacked vision. We lacked heart. Evidence of our errors of belief is seemingly everywhere. Traditional barbecue is now in renaissance.

More on Sam Jones and his role as fire chief in Ayden from the Southern Foodways Alliance and Chicago Tribune writer Kevin Pang

– Food Republic has a guide on where to eat in Columbia, SC that includes a couple of barbecue joints including Hite’s BBQ, True BBQ, and Big Boy’s Original Smokehouse

– Pork ribs in Mississippi changed Adam Perry Lang’s life

– Charlotte Agenda thinks Midwood Smokehouse has one of the best non-traditional tacos in the city

– On so-called “nouveau ‘cue” and the supersizing of barbecue

– Thanksgiving is coming, so here’s a homemade mac and cheese recipe from Midwood Smokehouse

Linkdown: 6/25/14

– While the newest incarnation of the Hornets opted not to use Alexander Julian as a free consultant to help design their new uniforms, he designed the original ones in exchange for barbecue

Julian was already a standout in the design world because of his “Colours” collection of men’s clothes when Shinn asked him in the 1980s to come up with the Hornets’ original uniforms. Julian said he would do it if Shinn would ship five pounds of barbecue to his house in Connecticut every month – “Carolina caviar,” as Julian called it.

“I had no idea that an expansion team uniform was going to sell as much as it did,” Julian said. “I was really dumb. I didn’t know what I was giving up. I normally get a five percent royalty. The reports I saw was that they sold over $200 million worth of stuff. So I traded $10 million for some barbecue. George got rich, and I got fat.”

– Stamey’s was featured on the Cooking Channel show “Man Fire Food” (via bbqboard) yesterday

– Well this sounds promising:

– Yet another list of best barbecue joints in America, this time from Smart Travel list (via Huffington Post). At least it’s pretty accurate for NC, both in the description of east vs. Lexington styles as well as the joints they choose

Where to Get It: Our resident North Carolinian editor says Allen & Son in Chapel Hill is quintessential, with large brick pits out back and telltale checkered oilcloth on the tables inside. Skylight Inn in Ayden earns Southern Living‘s high praises for its whole-hog approach. Locals laud Lexington Barbecue‘s wood-smoked, ketchup-laced pork shoulder; a roll to heap it on will cost you $0.17 extra, and some Cheerwine (a super-carbonated cherry soda native to the area) is the only proper accompaniment.

– From a few weeks back, Daniel Vaughn (aka bbqsnob) had the good fortune to explore whole hog barbecue through tasting it from Ed Mitchell, Samuel Jones, and Rodney Scott at The Big Apple BBQ event earlier this month

– Robert Moss explains smokers across the south in this article for Serious Eats (via)

– 8 Things to Eat at a Charlotte Knights game includes two barbecue items from Queen City Q – a pulled pork potato and a pulled pork sandwich

– Q4Fun figures out which beers from NoDa Brewing pairs best with various barbecue dishes

  • Pulled pork
  • Mustard sauce – Ramble on Red – counterbalances the acidity – competing flavors 
  • Vinegar sauce – Ramble on Red or Cavu 
  • KC style sauce – Hop Drop ‘n Roll 

– This Fourth of July, feel free to go with slaw as a side dish at your cookout

“Slaw is universal,” says John Shelton Reed, author of “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue .” “Slaw is part of the deal unless you ask not to have it.”

– Well this looks amazing: John Lewis of la Barbecue and Rodney Scott of Scott’s Bar-B-Que to smoke barbecue together in Charleston; too bad its on a Sunday and during the World Cup Final