Smoking at the Skylight Inn

by James Boo on November 3, 2009 · 17 comments

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James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC
James Howell has been working as one of the main pit cooks of Pete Jones’ BBQ, AKA The Skylight Inn, in Ayden, North Carolina, for about fifteen years. The day I spent with him and the rest of Pete Jones’ staff in October of 2009 will figure heavily into a proposal I’m writing for a book on American BBQ, to be pitched vigorously in 2010.

This post documents a single day with a steward of culinary history.
Those who don’t wish to see dead pigs be warned at this juncture.

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell and Jeff Jones, Pit Cooks - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

James Howell, Pit Cook - Pete Jones' BBQ/The Skylight Inn - Ayden, NC

The Skylight Inn is one of the few remaining barbecue restaurants in America to cook whole hogs over wood coals. Sixteen hours of smoke before the first quarter of the day is cut. No gas, electricity, steel, liquid smoke or sauce. No shortcuts. When it comes to traditional American barbecue, quitters never prosper.

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Comments

Joon S. November 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

I’m glad to have experienced this place, even if it meant a two- or three-hour detour! Its pork–with the bits of crackling–is something I’m sure I’ll miss to my dying day.

Joon S.
http://vinicultured.com

Bihn November 3, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Great collage.

However.

I question your use of the phrase “quitters never prosper” so close to a picture of mentholated cigarettes.

Jackie J November 5, 2009 at 10:02 am

This pictorial is amazing. I love the transformation of pig to yummy-looking smoked pork.

wasabi prime November 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Amazing. This really is a detailed view into a distinctly American culinary talent that is as interesting and skillful as wine making in France or the beer-massaged cows in Japan. Outstanding work!

Humble Reader November 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

James, honestly, how in the world do you convince someone to allow you to step on in and see what they do? Awesome and delicious pork pictures.

James Boo November 11, 2009 at 8:36 am

Thanks for the compliments, everyone :]

Humble: You’d be surprised what can be accomplished with a shotgun and hockey mask.

James Boo February 16, 2010 at 11:31 pm

I’d like to note that over 10 comments were suddenly posted in response to this story, all of from under different names and all attacking the owners and workers at the Skylight Inn on the grounds of homophobia and bigotry.

I sympathize with any concerns on the issue and would have left one such comment here as a reminder of the continuing impact and significance of prejudice in the United States; however, the fact that every one of these comments came from the same IP addresses raises another issue, dishonesty, so I’ve deleted all of them and marked them as spam.

Brandon February 17, 2010 at 5:38 am

I totally understand.(James Boo) I really was targeted because of being Gay.I deal with Homophobia from Pete Jones.I apologize but my friends weren’t happy either.

James Boo February 17, 2010 at 9:28 am

Understood, Brandon. To be honest, I also think that multiple comments aren’t even needed for your point to be made – I’m fairly certain that most of my readers take the issues of civil rights and sexual orientation seriously. Thanks for clarifying!

Brandon February 17, 2010 at 12:41 pm

You are more than welcome,My Friend.

Anonymous June 26, 2010 at 9:22 am

bar b que was good . That was the only thing. You have to pay an additional 50 cents for drinks when the price is already $1.25 up front. This is unheard of in most resturants today ! Also there are no green beans or anything else offered. I personally will never return or recommend anyone else to either. There is absolutly no hospitality or anything good about the dining area. The place should be demolished, and relocated under new ownership !

sherwin williams September 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm

SAW YOUR PLACE ON THE FOOD NETWORK HAVE NOT GOT THERE YET BUT IAM ON MY WAY
HOPE TO SEE YOU ON OR ABOUT OCTOBER 20 TH COMING FROM PA TO WILMINGTON EXPECT TO COME OVER FROM WILSON KILL A COUPLE PIGS

YA WHOOO!!!

Judge Rembert November 21, 2010 at 11:16 pm

There is no better BBQ anywhere. I have been eating BBQ from here for the past 33 years. People come for far away to share the food and the friendship that is served here daily. The only thing better than the food is the family that serves it. Both the food and the workers are worth the trip and will keep you coming back.

Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

I really Respect The Way you take the time to prepare your bbq. I have one question can you buy a plate of bbq without any of the sauce put on it . the reason i say this is that you spend so much time cooking the bbq. i love tasting the wood smoke.

Wes Snyder June 24, 2011 at 11:09 pm

The best barbeque anywhere. I grew up in the Burlington area and have had all types of barbeque all across the state.
The cracklin in the meat really gives it great flavor. Barbeque, slaw and flat cornbread. What else do you need. If I am within an hour of Skylight, I will be there.

bar-bque eater August 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

People just need to quit haten on The Skylight Inn and my man (James) ‘BEST B-BQUE AROUND’ hand completly down!! if you want green beans and such go else where, im pretty sure one plate not sold wont shut them down….honestly i google this restarant to get the closing time and ran across the reviews and just had to leave one…oh well PEACE OUT !! headed down there now lol!! before they close. Been thinking about this barbeque all day at work -_-

Sandra Davis November 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

very good bbq

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