Pitmaster Interviews

Interview: Chris Manning of Smokey Joe’s BBQ

Owner: Smokey Joe’s BBQ; Opened 1985 Age: 24 Smoker: Wood-fired Brick Smoker Wood: Hickory Thirty years is a long time to keep a barbecue joint going, but Chris Manning wasn’t even born when Smokey Joe’s opened in 1985. The twenty-four year old swore he wouldn’t work in the barbecue joint. He went to college to find another path, but he came back. Now his dad is focused on his home building business, Joe Melton, the namesake of Smokey Joe’s, is retired,…

Interview: Ricky Mumphord of Mumphord’s Place

Co-Owner/ Pitmaster: Mumphord’s Place; Opened 2000 Age: 57 Smoker: Direct heat steel pit Wood: Mesquite and Oak When your family came through Indianola, Texas, which suffered two hurricanes and was essentially abandoned by 1887, you know the family’s been around a while. That’s where the Mumphord’s landed after coming to Texas. They soon settled in nearby Dacosta and Placedo and a few other small towns south of Victoria. There’s even a Mumphord Rd. near Victoria and a two…

Interview: Louis McMillan of McMillan’s Bar-B-Q

Owner/Pitmaster: McMillan’s Bar-B-Q; Opened 1974 Age: 69 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Oak, Mesquite, and Pecan Louis McMillan wasn’t happy, and I knew he wouldn’t be. I was in his restaurant to interview him because he’d been honored as one of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints, but we had a longer history. While traveling for my book research a few years ago I’d stopped into McMillan’s for a less than impressive meal and I wrote about it. I included…

Interview: Adam Perry Lang of Serious Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Serious Barbecue Age: 45 Smoker: Wood-fired Offset Smoker Wood: Red Oak, White Oak, and Pecan There isn’t much that Adam Perry Lang hasn’t done in the world of barbecue. He has authored multiple books on barbecue including Serious Barbecue, BBQ 25, and Charred & Scruffed. He found success in a brief stint on the barbecue competition circuit and is now a member of the Barbecue Hall of Fame. In 2003 he became a barbecue pioneer in New York with…

Interview: Billy Ray Nelson of Hitch-N-Post BBQ

Owner/ Pitmaster: Hitch-N-Post BBQ; Opened 2009 Age: 64 Smoker: Wood-fired Indirect Heat Smoker Wood: Hickory, Red Oak, White Oak & Pecan After he retired from his duties as a Polk County sheriff’s deputy, Billy Ray Nelson decided to turn his hobby into a retirement plan. He opened Hitch-N-Post BBQ five years ago, and it’s part restaurant and part antique store given all the tchotchkes hanging on the patio. I’m not sure how those items are selling, but the barbecue business is good….

Interview: Samuel Jones of Skylight Inn

Co-Owner/Pitmaster: Skylight Inn; Opened 1947 in Ayden, North Carolina Age: 33 Cooker: Direct heat brick pit Wood: Oak and Hickory Samuel Jones is part of a North Carolina family that was cooking barbecue back in the nineteenth century. He’s been at the restaurant since birth, and surmises that his mother likely put pig grease in his baby bottles. Samuel is also a man full of one-liners. When we spoke over the phone, I asked if his day was going well….

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