I tease the Southern Living folks for their surveys of places in the South, which often seem to skip our area. So I should praise them for their latest, "The Smokin' Hot List: 10 of the South's Best Pitmasters."
For once, several worthy Carolinas stops land on the list. Of course, if they were really doing it, the entire list would be Carolinas barbecue -- and it would take a lot more than 10. But still, I'm happy to see these guys get the love, for long hours doing some hot, dirty work:
1. Rodney Scott, Scott's Bar-B-Q, Hemingway, S.C.
2. Sam Jones (although they should include his uncle Jeff and their helper, James Howell, who also do the long hours at the pit -- Samuel himself will tell you that Skylight is a family affair), Skylight Inn, Ayden.
3. Ed Mitchell, The Pitmaster, Raleigh. Ed doesn't currently have a restaurant (he split with The Pit), but he tours and does events as The Pitmaster.
4. Avery Payne, Cook's Barbecue, Lexington. (That's my picture of the chopped 'cue plate at Cook's, above.)
In the same issue, SL's picks for best barbecue places include Allen & Son, Chapel Hill; Bunn's, Windsor; Jim & Nick's, all over, including Charlotte; Lexington Barbecue, Lexington; and Red Bridge's Barbecue Lodge, Shelby.
You can get the whole package, including a pitmaster quiz, a list of good bottled sauces, recipes and more, here: 'Cue Awards.