Holy Smoke launch night at The Pit

Last Thursday the Press had a fabulous launch party for Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue at The Pit in downtown Raleigh. We celebrated with authors John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney as well as several pitmasters featured in the book, including Ed Mitchell (pitmaster at The Pit), Samuel Jones (3rd-generation pitmaster at the Skylight Inn in Ayden), Charles Stamey and Chip Stamey (2nd- and 3rd-generation masters at Stamey’s in Greensboro), and Wilber Shirley (founder of Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro). Plus! Tommy Edwards was there, guitar in hand, and treated us to a live version of Holy Smoke, the song.

The Reeds were honored to have Bob Garner (“Mr. North Carolina Barbecue”) and Dennis Rogers (“Oracle of the Holy Grub”) attend and celebrate with them. (Garner and Rogers make appearances in the book, as well.)

Media folks got a chance to meet the authors and pitmasters before the rest of us descended on the place and the ‘cue came out. I snuck back to the kitchen to watch Ed Mitchell at the helm of the indoor pit as the pig for our event was reaching peak deliciousness.

Ed Mitchell calls it: this pig\'s ready!
Ed Mitchell calls it: this pig's ready!

We gorged ourselves silly, I’ll tell you what. Pulled pork, chopped pork, pork ribs, pork skin — not to mention some spectacular fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, cole slaw, sweet tea, and a banana pudding that was out of this world.

Some impressions from attendees:

Jack Betts, associate editor at the Charlotte Observer, blogs about being in the room with the “barbecue aristocracy.”

Triangle foodie Dean McCord, who blogs over at VarmintBites, posts about scouting out a new generation of up-and-coming pitmasters.

New book reviews have appeared from food legend Jean Anderson and from the Greensboro Telegram, who gives a special nod to the hometown pitmasters at Stamey’s.

For more photos from your humble blog editor, click on through to the other side…

Disclaimer: This night really made me appreciate the photography skills of my trusty fellow blogger Tom. Alas, he was called home to tend to a spouse recovering from dental hell (hope you’re feeling better, Bon!), and could not document the evening for us. Turns out I don’t know what I’m doing with a camera in the dark. sigh. But I did manage to salvage a few shots, and what looks sort of funky I will make you believe is really just “artsy.”

John and Dale Reed (they\'re the ones whose faces you can see; I believe they\'re talking to Tommy Edwards and his wife)
John and Dale Reed (they're the ones whose faces you can actually see)
Will McKinney (left) and friends
Will McKinney (left) and friends
Chip Stamey (and illuminated particles of barbecue smoke wafting from the pit!)
Chip Stamey (and illuminated particles of barbecue smoke wafting from the pit!)
Wilber Shirley
Wilber Shirley
Samuel Jones
Samuel Jones (center) and Charles Stamey (right); unidentified man on left bows energetically in the presence of great pork authorities
Charles Stamey
Charles Stamey (member of the clean plate club)
Tommy Edwards
Tommy Edwards (a little blurry, but if you squint you can tell that no, that is not his guitar in his hands and yes, that is an anthropomorphic pig riding a bicycle in the background)

That’s all for now.


Update: Huzzah!! Dale Reed offers some more photos. Thanks Dale!

Ed Mitchell supervises the pulling of the hog
Ed Mitchell supervises the pulling of the hog
Charles Stamey, Samuel Jones, Wilber Shirley (l-r)
Five pitmasters
Five NC pitmasters: Ed Mitchell, Wilber Shirley, Chip Stamey, Charles Stamey, and Samuel Jones (l-r)