A Pitmaster shares red flags to watch out for at a barbecue restaurant

A Pitmaster shares red flags to watch out for at a barbecue restaurant

  • Rodney Scott, a pitmaster, shares his tips for finding a real barbecue restaurant.
  • Award-winning chef James Beard says using your senses is helpful.
  • For Scott, no visible piles of wood, no visible pits, and no smell of smoke are red flags.

Rodney Scott, a James Beard Award-winning pitmaster and founder of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, says there are some key red flags to watch out for when looking for a quality barbecue restaurant to satisfy your craving.

The cookbook author told Insider that spotting the difference between a true barbecue place and a place that serves grilled food is as simple as using your senses – just look around you.

Rodney Scott

Anyone can stop by and look out the windows at Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina.

Rachel Askinasi / Insider


If there is no visible wood pile or pit area, that is your first red flag

“If you could see if they have firewood, or if you could see if they are cooking it on site, that’s a good sign,” Scott said.

Sometimes a restaurant will have its pits and cooking area visible to diners, as in Rodney Scott locations.

“For example, at our place here, you can see the boxes because we’re on this corner,” Scott said of his restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. “And our location in Birmingham, when you walk in the door, you can see the holes through the dining room through a glass window, and you can see everything that goes on there.”

He said it was important for his team to give customers the opportunity to see, when they show up, that they cook everything on site. But some restaurants may not have the space or the capacity to do that.

Rodney Scott

Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ team burns wood in an indoor fire pit to make charcoal. The bonfire releases smoke outside.

Rachel Askinasi / Insider


If you can’t see the pits, Scott says watch out for the smoke.

“Smoke is a tell-tale sign,” Scott said. If the restaurant is cooking its barbecue on site, customers will be able to see the smoke or at least smell it.

If you are confused or unsure, the pit master said you should just walk into the building, or walk for the building – and inhale. Do you smell the meat that is cooking? If so, it is a good sign.

Rodney Scott

An open pit releases the smoke from cooking a whole pig at Rodney Scott’s in Charleston.

Rachel Askinasi / Insider


The next big red flag, according to Scott, may be location

If you’re still unsure after looking for some of the more obvious signs of cooking at the site (woodpiles or visible pits), make a note of their location.

The location does not mean wondering what city you are in, but what kind of space the restaurant occupies. Think about whether there might be a fireplace or large kitchen leak that can handle the cooking process necessary to smoke meat, or ask if you’re not sure. If you can see outside, look for those vehicles so the smoke can escape on its own.

“For example,” Scott said, “if I see a place in the airport that says they are a steakhouse, that would put a question mark on me. Because how much smoke You Do you see going around an airport? “

He said that in this case he would question when and where the food was cooked.

Even if the restaurant passes these red flag tests, it’s not a guarantee that you will like the food, Scott said. It just shows that the team is likely to stick with the practice of barbecuing. Similarly, this does not mean that the food is bad in a place that does not burn wood or smoke meat in pits; It’s probably not a true technical barbecue.

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