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.
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.