As grills get fired up across the nation this weekend, it’s time to game plan your July 4th celebration fare. While barbecue is tried and true, we’ve gathered new ways to use slow-cooked meat—plus a few smoky alternatives for the non-carnivores—from award-winning pitmasters around the South. Here are a few ideas for a new take on the classic holiday ‘cue.
Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp met on the barbecue circuit after competing in the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, along with many other local and regional BBQ competitions. After finding a shared love for smoked meats (and the Memphis Tigers), Blondis and Sapp made the leap from friends to business partners by opening Central BBQ. In the 19 years since opening the first location on Central Avenue in Memphis’ Midtown neighborhood, the number of restaurants has grown but the same powerful sense of Southern hospitality, one-of-a-kind barbecue, and love for smoked meats is something the brand will never outgrow.
Edley’s embodies all things Southern through its soulful atmosphere, low-and-slow, smoked-daily meats, and made-in-house sides. And each location is anchored by one very important thing: community. Edley’s puts out a mix of many things, with influence from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to both Middle and Western, Tennessee. And just as Music City is defined by its many cultures, transplants, and travelers, so is Edley’s, making their brand uniquely Nashville. It also gives the city its own signature dish, inspired by Nashville Hot Chicken.
After 25 years in trucking, Ray Lampe made a career change in 2000 and moved to Florida to pursue his dream of becoming a professional pitmaster. Today, Lampe is one of the world’s most recognized personalities in barbecue, known as Dr. BBQ. He opened his eponymous, full-service restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2017, serving “New American barbecue” inspired by his travels across the country. Offering original takes on nearly every distinctive regional style of American barbecue, from Texas and Kansas City to Memphis and the Carolinas (along with some international flavors), as well as a remarkable selection of bourbon, creative cocktails, and local beer, Dr. BBQ is a dynamic spot in St. Pete’s EDGE District. With more than two decades of experience testing different cooking styles and winning BBQ cookoffs, Lampe was inducted into the American Royal BBQ Hall of Fame in 2014, has made numerous Food Network appearances, and authored nine cookbooks.
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