In one of the latest signs of a return to normalcy, 60 teams participated in last weekend’s 40th Annual BBQ on the Neuse Festival, the world’s largest whole hog competition. Attendance was larger than expected, with upwards of 15,000 attendees (vs an expected 5,000) coming to downtown Kinston to enjoy barbecue, music, and a little rainy weather (at least on Friday night).
In terms of winners, contestant Amy Bell had a good year, winning first overall in product quality and sauce. The rest of the winners here:
Next year’s event will be held on May 6-7.
Indy Week reviews the Raleigh location of Sam Jones BBQ, which doesn’t even have a freezer on site
Daniel Vaughn spent a little over a week in NC and ended his tour at Jon G’s Barbecue this past Saturday where I was fortunate enough to meet up with him
Congrats to Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ on their new space in Buda, about 15 minutes south of their current location in South Austin
Juan Luis from John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue makes this list
A few shows with barbecue-focused episodes – Ugly Delicious, Cooked, Taco Chronicles, The Chef Show – are on this list from The Manual
Bon Appetit has an essay from Black Smoke
But of course Texas has a state high school barbecue championship
It’s not everyday that a barbecue restaurant gets featured in Architect Magazine; in this case its Black Hog BBQ in Ashburn, VA
Congrats to the first class of Kingsford Charcoal’s Preserve the Pit Fellowship. If you recall, the winners of this inaugural class will receive a “grant along with immersive training and one-on-one mentorship with industry leaders throughout 2021 to turn their business aspirations into a reality.” And it’s an impressive list of mentors from which they’ll get advice: Kevin Bludso, Dr. Howard Conyers, Devita Davison, Bryan Furman, Rashad Jones and Amy Mills. I look forward to seeing what happens for each of these fellows as a result of this direct mentorship. The winners ae:
Cory & Tarra Davis – Grand Rapids, Mich.: Owners of Daddy Pete’s BBQ since 2012, Cory and Tarra Davis have a passion for barbecue that they share with their friends, family and community. Through the fellowship, their goal is to build a stronger foundation for their business operations to ensure their restaurant continues to successfully operate beyond their generation.
Chef Shalamar Lane – Carson, Calif.: As the head chef and owner of My Father’s Barbeque, Shalamar brings southern hospitality to California by using delicious barbecue as a way to bring people together. As a result of the mentorship, she hopes to improve her management skills to further her business’ success and continue to teach her employees and community about the history of barbecue.
Ronald Simmons – Kenansville, N.C.: Ronald and his family own Master Blend Family Farms, LLC, which provides whole hogs and premium pork products to restaurants and private owned businesses in his community. They’ve hosted farm tours in collaboration with several local schools and hope to transition one of the farms, which has been in the family for over a century, into a farm school and develop a whole hog barbecue station to share their heritage of barbecue and create a path of opportunity for future generations.
And in more good news, the response to the initial call for fellows was so overwhelming that an additional 10 pitmasters were selected to receive a one-time $7,500 grant. Those winners are:
Aaron Gonerway – Plates By the Pound BBQ (Denver, Colo.)
Pamela Henry – Pam’s Magic Cauldron (Smyrna, Ga.)
Daniel Hammond – Smoky Soul Barbecue Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
Brandon Norman – Memphis Original BBQ (Atoka, Tenn.)
Demetris R. – Making The CuTX (Newport, Vt.)
Erica Roby – Blue Smoke Blaire (Dayton, Ohio)
Christopher Simmons – The Qulinary Oasis BBQ (DeSoto, Texas)
Gerald Vinnett – Big Papi’s Smokehouse (Destrehan, La.)
Eddie Wright– Eddie Wright BBQ (Jackson, Miss.)
Newly drafted Chiefs WR Cornell Powell will remain an Eastern Carolina boy at heart: “All I’m going to say is that I haven’t been to Kansas City and had their barbecue yet but, I have North Carolina barbecue number 1 right now,” said Powell.
Despite the shaky opening to his article, D.G. Martin pays tribute Backyard BBQ Pit and Grady’s BBQ, who both were featured in “Black Smoke”
Lewis Donald’s goal for Sweet Lew’s BBQ has always been more than just crafting great barbecue. He is wanting to give back to the community, whether that’s hiring workers from the Belmont neighborhood where his restaurant is located, hosting back-to-school carnivals with free haircuts at the restaurant, and now hiring a barbecue apprentice from the local culinary school at Central Piedmont Community College. Watch the video at the link below to learn more about Keywon and how he was introduced to Lewis. I’m looking forward to seeing big things from Keywon in the future.
While the Ed Mitchell’s The Preserve restaurant is still delayed, starting this Friday they will be offering a takeout/pickup service running out of the Carolina Ale House off Falls of Neuse
Steven Raichlen of Barbecue Bible links to his piece from last summer on the contributions of Black pitmasters to the world of barbecue
The Barbecue Center is often overlooked in the shadow of Lexington Barbecue but those who are in the know believe that it’s every bit as good as its more popular counterpart (perhaps better?).
The late Sonny Conrad started out as a carhop before purchasing the restaurant in 1967 (it originally opened in 1955) and his family has run it ever since, with sons Cecil and Michael taking over day to day activities since their father passed in 2013. More on their family story at the link below.
Next time you are passing through Lexington on Business 85, consider stopping at The Barbecue Center which is just two miles away from Lexington Barbecue off N. Main St.
More from Lexington: a profile of the city’s history with barbecue with some quotes from the Conrads and the Monks of Lexington Barbecue
Barbecue-gate for Democratic candidate for NC Senate Cal Cunningham, born and raised in Lexington of all places (yes, I’m aware of the more recent scandal)