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America's Most Influential BBQ Pitmasters and Personalities Slideshow

America's Most Influential BBQ Pitmasters and Personalities Slideshow


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These barbecue mavens have shaped the way Americans eat fire-roasted meat

1. Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue

He’s the owner and pitmaster of Austin's Franklin Barbecue – probably the most famous everyman restaurant in the country, and most definitely the most famous BBQ joint – and this year he became the first pitmaster to take home the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest. The achievement legitimized American barbecue as a distinctive culinary category.

2. John Markus,"BBQ Pitmasters"

Thanks to shows like Top Chef and just about everything on Food Network, cooking has become part of our pop culture. Though he isn’t a pitmaster himself, Markus – the Emmy-winning creator of BBQ Pitmasters – has been

and in fostering the celebrity status of guys like Franklin and Myron Mixon. In 2010, Markus gathered five of the world's greatest pitmasters, including Mixon and Johnny Trigg, to feed 5,000 U.S. soldiers in Kuwait. He then directed a documentary about the experience: The Kings of BBQ Barbecue Kuwait.

3. Myron Mixon, Jack's Old South BBQ

A competitor-turned-judge on BBQ Pitmasters and author of the popular cookbooks Smokin' with Myron Mixon and Everyday Barbecue: At Home with America's Favorite Pitmaster, Mixon is generally considered "the winningest man in barbecue." The more than 180 grand championships and 1,700 BBQ trophies he's won as chief cook of Jack's Old South Competition Bar-B-Que Team have something to do with that.

4. Louie, Bobby and Wayne Mueller, Louie Mueller BBQ

Louie Mueller retired in 1974 and died in 1992, but he remains one of the gods of Texas pitmasters. His son Bobby carried on his legacy until his own death in 2008, and now Bobby's son, Wayne – the third generation owner and pitmaster – is keeping the legend alive at one of the best known, most popular, most significant barbecue joints in the country. Bobby took home a James Beard Award for "America's Classics" in 2006, an honor given to regional establishments treasured for their quality food, local character and lasting appeal. Louie Mueller BBQ has been written up in countless national magazines and newspapers and has been featured in several films and TV shows.

5. Frederick Louis Fountaine, Louie Mueller BBQ

Fountaine, one of the first true celebrity pitmasters in the country, has manned the pits at Louie Mueller for almost 40 years. His brisket is renowned (Aaron Franklin uses his technique), and his secret sauce recipe was two decades in the making.

6. Mike and Amy Mills, 17th Street Barbecue and Memphis Championship Barbecue

Mike Mills is "The Legend" – a four-time World Champion and three-time Grand World Champion of Memphis in May, Grand Champion of the Jack Daniel's World Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest, a Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee and the recipient of a host of other accolades. Amy Mills, Mike’s daughter, is a respected barbecue industry professional in her own right with her consulting company, OnCue Consulting. Together, the Millses co-authored the James Beard Award-nominated book Peace, Love and Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies. Their 17th Street Barbecue restaurants are local favorites and must-visit Illinois eateries. ​

7. Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

Kingsford/AP Photo

Lilly is the only five-time champion of the Memphis in May BBQ cook-off – aka the "Super Bowl of Swine" – and the author of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets From a Legendary Barbecue Joint. The title is no joke: The Alabama BBQ joint is considered one of the most important and most influential in America.

8. Melissa Cookston, Memphis BBQ Co.

Cookston is not only the winningest woman in barbecue, she’s one of the winningest barbecue cooks overall. A two-time grand champion at Memphis in May, she owns three Memphis BBQ Co. restaurants (a fourth is in the works), with 300 employees and $10-15 million in annual revenue. The only person to win the World Hog Championship three years in a row, she’s the author ofSmokin’ in the Boys’ Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue. Simply put, she's smokin’ hot.

9. John Mueller, John Mueller Meat Co.

John Mueller is the guy people love to hate in the soap-opera-y world of Texas BBQ. But give the guy credit for having the cojones to leave a hugely popular and successful family business (yes, Louie Mueller) to go off and do something on his own ... and then do it again when the first attempt failed … and then again, in a joint venture with his sister LeAnn, which ended, well, not well. John Mueller Meat Co. is his latest venture, and while John himself isn't winning any popularity contests, there's no denying he has serious cook skills – and that the legendary Mueller family drama is now firmly rooted in American barbecue history

10. Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow's BBQ

Yes, Texas again. Deal with it. Snow's shot out of obscurity when a reader reached out to Texas Monthly after its 2003 barbecue issue (a top-50 ranking done every five years) and TM writers blew it out of the water in 2008. "Miss Tootsie", 80, was called by Texas Monthly as the "first lady of Texas barbecue" and "possibly the greatest female pitmaster in Texas history."

11. Johnny Trigg, Smokin' Triggers

The "Godfather of Barbecue" and his competition team Smokin' Triggers, comprised of himself and his wife, Trish, is the only two-time Grand Champion of the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational. Trigg is a mainstay on BBQ Pitmasters and an inductee into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame. He’s been called "the New England Patriots of barbecuing."

12. Daniel Vaughn, TMBBQ

There is no more important resource for all things barbecue than Texas Monthlyand its multiplatform, all-barbecue accompaniment, TMBBQ – and barbecue editor and perennial Texas 'cue tastemaker Daniel Vaughn's position there is hard-earned and well-deserved. He is the only barbecue editor in the country and the only full-time barbecue editor in American history. Basically an encyclopedia of barbecue, Vaughn joins the stellar Texas Monthly food editorial team for what is, hands-down, the best barbecue coverage in the country. (It’s just too bad for the rest of us that they're only in Texas and not national.)

Vaughn was the subject of some controversy a while back when a credentialed journalist blatantly ripped off his pavement-pounding work. When other media members came to his defense, Vaughn was catapulted from admired "hobbyist" on his Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog to full-time professional expert. In addition to his work at TMBBQ, he is also the author of the book The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue on Anthony Bourdain's imprint Ecco Press.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


15 Most Influential People in Barbecue History

Fox News stirred up a hornet&aposs nest recently when it published its list of "America&aposs most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Barbecue fans immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the selection&aposs over-emphasis on Texas joints and barbecue competitions and—most glaringly—that the faces were all white. The controversy has even made it overseas, prompting a full-length feature in the BBC News Magazine.

Those responses have done a good job of recommending a more diverse slate of 21st century influencers who should be recognized. (First We Feast, for example, compiled the suggestions from several respected barbecue writers.) There&aposs also been some good discussion of the long and essential role that African-Americans have played in the history of barbecue. So why don&apost we blend those two threads and catalog some of the key individuals who helped shape and advance the tradition since the 19th century?

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By "influential", I don&apost mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We&aposre talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South&aposs rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It&aposs a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

1. The Unknown Barbecue Cooks

Unfortunately, the names of many barbecue pioneers have been lost to history. By the time of the Civil War, Southerners had been cooking barbecue for more than two centuries, and a great many of these cooks were African-American slaves, who tended the pits at barbecues organized for the white community as well as at events for their own families and friends. After the Civil War, thousands of talented cooks in rural areas and small towns brought delight to generations of hungry Southerners, but their names didn&apost make it into newspapers and other historical records. We may not know who they were, but we know they were there.

2. John W. Callaway

Barbecue cooks started getting attention from the press in the late 19th century, and foremost among the famous "barbecue men" of the South was Sheriff John W. Callaway of Wilkes County, Georgia. A tall, rotund, 300-pound man, Callaway presided over the pits at hundreds of large outdoor community celebrations and special events during the 1880s and 1890s. His star turn came at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, where he sold barbecued pork and lamb along with pickles, bread, and hash, earning himself a profile in magazines like Harper&aposs Weekly. Callaway was less a cook than a manager—the men actually working his pits were unnamed African-Americans𠅋ut his style and personality got him noted by the northeastern press and helped build a national reputation for Georgia-style barbecue.

3. Gus Jaubert

If John W. Callaway was the barbecue king of Georgia, Gus Jaubert played the same role for Kentucky. At the age of 14, he was hired to help turn the spits at a political rally in Hopkinsville and was hooked. After learning the art from the local experts, he emerged after the Civil War as Kentucky&aposs top barbecue cook. In 1866, he first served barbecue and burgoo (Kentucky&aposs now-famous slow-simmered stew) together at the same event, and he helped make burgoo a staple part of the state&aposs political rallies. In 1895 he presided over the pits at the National Encampment for the Grand Army of the Republic, which was attended by over 150,000 veterans and may well have been the largest barbecue in history.

4. Henry Perry

No one played a more instrumental role in shaping a city&aposs distinctive barbecue style than Henry Perry, the grandfather of commercial barbecue in Kansas City. Born in Tennessee, Perry arrived in Kansas City in 1907 and started selling ribs at a barbecue stand in a downtown alley. As his business grew, he moved several times into larger buildings, and his skills soon earned him the title of Kansas City&aposs "Barbecue King." Perry trained an entire generation of the city&aposs barbecue cooks, including Charlie and Arthur Bryant and Arthur Pinkard, who went on to help George and Arzelia Gates establish the first of the now-famous Gates Bar-B-Q chain of restaurants. He also had perhaps the best motto in all of barbecue history, printed on a sign that hung on the wall of his restaurant: "My business is to serve you, not to entertain you."

5. Adam Scott

Just after World War I, Adam Scott started selling barbecue as a side business in Goldsboro, North Carolina, cooking slow-roasted pork in his backyard every weekend. In 1933 he enclosed the back porch of his house as a dining room, creating one of the first sit-down barbecue restaurants in eastern North Carolina. Most influential, though, was Scott&aposs sauce recipe, which his son, Martel, used to build a flourishing bottled condiment business, putting traditional pepper-laced Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce on grocery store shelves across the Carolinas.

6. Matt Garner Matt Garner was Houston&aposs great barbecue mentor. In the 1920s, he moved from Beaumont in east Texas to Houston&aposs 4th Ward, where he opened Matt Garner&aposs Barbecue Stand. Garner taught Joe Burney, who went on to open Burney&aposs Barbecue and Avalon Barbecue, and Burney in turn taught Houston barbecue legend Harry Green. Garner is also credited with introducing the city to the beef sausage known as "juicy links."

7. Joe Bessinger Other families, like the Dukes and the Hites, contributed to the distinctive Midlands South Carolina barbecue style, but none were more prolific than the Bessingers. A farmer and logger by profession, Joe Bessinger enjoyed only modest success as a restaurateur, operating a cafe in Holly Hill for a couple of short stretches. But seven of his ten children ended up in the barbecue business, taking his Orangeburg-style yellow mustard sauce down to Charleston and up to Columbia.

8. Warner Stamey

Perhaps the most prolific of the South&aposs many barbecue mentors, Warner Stamey did not single-handedly create the Piedmont North Carolina barbecue style, but he was instrumental in spreading it throughout the region. A serial restaurateur, Stamey learned the craft from Jess Swicegood, one of the first two commercial barbecue vendors in the now-legendary barbecue town of Lexington, North Carolina. Stamey took that style first down to Shelby, then back to Lexington, and finally up to Greensboro, opening multiple restaurants along the way. Cooks who got their start working in Stamey&aposs restaurants went on to found dozens of classic Piedmont North Carolina joints, including Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, and Bar-B-Q Center, and his grandson Chip keeps the family tradition alive today at two Stamey&aposs locations in Greensboro.

9. Walter Jetton

A larger than life caterer and showman, Walter Jetton came to symbolize the Texas style of open pit barbecue in the mid-20th century. By the early 1950s he had established himself as Fort Worth&aposs barbecue king, building a massive catering operation with a fleet of 18 trucks that served over 1.5 million dinners a year. His greatest fame, though, came from his role as the head cook for the highly publicized cowboy-style barbecues at President Lyndon B. Johnson&aposs LBJ Ranch, where he introduced heads of state and dignitaries from around the globe to Texas-style beef barbecue.

10. Charlie Vergos

When Charlie Vergos opened a small beer and sandwich parlor in a basement space in downtown Memphis, he wasn&apost planning on going into the barbecue business. But the building had an old coal chute that he decided to convert into a smoker, and in the late 1950s his meat supplier suggested he try cooking pork ribs on it. So Vergos did, rubbing them with a blend of seasonings his father had used to make Greek chili. The result: Memphis-style dry rub ribs, which made Charlie Vergos&apos Rendezvous famous and have now spread across the country.

11. Lyttle Bridges

Many of the South&aposs classic barbecue joints started out as husband-and-wife operations, but it was the husbands, who usually were the ones overseeing the pits, who have generally gotten all of the attention. That wasn&apost the case at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, North Carolina. Red and Lyttle Bridges founded the place together in 1946, and after her husband passed away in 1966, Lyttle (known by all as "Mama B") carried on for three more decades as the driving force behind the operation, working twelve hours a day until she was well into her 80s. "Mama B" ran a tight ship, a tough but fair boss insistent on consistency and quality. She kept a few tight-lipped secrets, ("People who don&apost have a very good sauce don&apost mind giving it out," she told the Associated Press in 1982) but she taught the business to her daughter Debbie Bridges Webb and granddaughter Natalie Ramsey, who carry on the family tradition today.

12. Ollie Gates Ollie Gates of Gates Bar-B-Q took over the restaurant that his parents, George and Arzelia, founded in the 1940s and expanded it to six locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years he&aposs provided jobs for some 1,500 people and helped codify the unique Kansas City style of barbecue. Gates hasn&apost rested on his laurels, though. Building on his success as a restaurateur, he&aposs raised funds for a range of civic causes and launched real estate development projects to bring new commercial buildings to once-blighted neighborhoods.


Watch the video: Μιχάλης Ιγνατίου, Δεν αντιλαμβάνεται πλήρως την κατάσταση στο Αφγανιστάν η Αμερικανική ηγεσία (June 2022).