interviews

Interview: Chris Manning of Smokey Joe’s BBQ

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

Interview: 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: 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: Johnny Fugitt of Barbecue Rankings

Writer: 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America Age: 29 Johnny Fugitt is nearing the end of a one year tour around the country looking for the best barbecue joints in the country – one hundred of them to be exact. He was sick of all the poorly researched national top ten lists out there, so he decided to set out on his own and eat as much barbecue as he could along the way. He…

Interview: Jimmy Harris of David’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: David’s Barbecue; Opened 1988 Age: 49 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory Jimmy Harris doesn’t have much time for barbecue reviewers. “The real judge is that cash register.” And it hasn’t let him down for over two decades since he and his dad opened the place in Pantego. If you’re unfamiliar with Pantego, it’s a tiny municipality surrounded by the city of Arlington. The town is known for two things according to Harris. “Speed traps and bad water.”…

Interview: Cliff Payne of Cousin’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Cousin’s BBQ; Opened 1983 Age: 59 Smoker: Wood-fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Hickory & Pecan As the name suggests, Cousin’s BBQ is about family. Calvin “Bootsie” Payne III opened the place on McCart Avenue in Fort Worth in 1983 along with his wife and three of his children. His son Cliff Payne has been in charge of the barbecue since they opened the doors, and you can still find him working at the McCart location…