Pitmaster Interviews

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

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

Interview: Samuel Jones of Skylight Inn

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

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part II

Former Owner: Kreuz Market; Opened 1900 (current location 1999) Age: 69 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak It’s the most famous family feud in Texas barbecue. A disagreement between Nina Sells and her bother Rick Schmidt caused a rift that sent the historic Kreuz Market packing. After ninety-nine years in the same building, Rick Schmidt found a new home in a new building on the north side of Lockhart. The local headlines at the time read “The…

Interview: Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market, Part I

Former Owner: Kreuz Market; Opened 1900 (current location 1999) Age: 69 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Post Oak Rick Schmidt owned Kreuz Market from 1984 to 2011. He bought it from his father Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt, and sold it to his son Keith. Rick took a momentous step in moving the business from its previous home of ninety-nine years, and Keith is seeing it through its first expansion to a new location in Bryan that will open in…

Interview: Leon O’Neal of Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

Owner/Pitmaster: Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que; Opened 1987 Age: 74 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Post Oak Leon O’Neal didn’t get into the barbecue business until he was forty-five years old, but he’s managed to be successful in Galveston for nearly three decades in a converted house that once contained his bail bonding business. He decided pretty quickly that barbecue was a better path in life. O’Neal can usually be found in the small dining room of…

Interview: Samuel “Bo” Phillips of Cooper’s Bar-B-Que

Pitmaster: Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que; Opened 1963 Age: 64 Smoker: Charcoal-fired steel cooker and electric rotisserie smoker Wood: Lump Mesquite Charcoal There’s more than one cook at a big operation like Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, but Bo Phillips is the one who gets up early enough to get the briskets on. In their high heat method of cooking, the meat gets done a lot faster than anything cooked in the low and…

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