When I first started cooking hogs publicly in New Orleans at the bbq fundraiser, Hogs for the Cause, to raise funds for families with children undergoing pediatric brain cancer treatment, I just simply wanted to share what was known as South Carolina(SC) whole hog barbecue and help raise money for a good cause. At that time, that was the first time that I met Rodney Scott who grew up in Williamsburg County, SC which neighbored my home county of Clarendon. Later, I committed myself to helping America realize the role of African Americans in barbecue, pitcooked whole hog bbq. In realizing that my father, cooked hogs in the ground similarly to how my enslaved ancestors cooked whole hog bbq in the American’s south, I knew I had a deeper responsibility to honor their work. While working as a rocket scientist whom was educated as an engineering PhD, I started studying barbecue like an academic to go along with the oral history shared in my community to honor, preserve, and document their work as a traditional SC whole hog bbq pitmaster. Note the word pitmaster was not a word that I used when I grew up in SC cooking whole hog bbq on my family’s farm when my father was teaching me this time honored tradition. Because of this, I created several experiences to cook and document American BBQ traditions over the years through From the Low Country to the Bayou, which culminated in the cooking of whole bbq cow at Gumbo Jubilee , an event I created and hosted on October 20, 2018 in New Orleans.
I am extremely grateful to be recognized alongside, pitmaster Rodney Scott as 1 of 25 Southern Living Southerners of the Year. I did not go out for this recognition, but if it will help me to elevate the work created by my enslaved ancestors who created American BBQ and shared it to me unknowingly by passing the knowledge down, I humbly accept the recognition. I am glad that I was able to also talk SC BBQ Sauces with Rodney Scott as the vinegar pepper base sauce he uses is representative of the oldest bbq sauce in the country on an episode of PBS Digital Studios Nourish a show I am hosting and co-producing.
Thank you to my parents, wife, family, and friends for the encouragement over the years. As I hope my story will help to inspire others.