You are a passionate advocate of Memphis-style barbecue, and people all over the country seem to agree. Why do you think the appeal of Memphis barbecue is so widespread?
Memphis-style is a well-rounded style of barbecue. Generally the meat is cooked to a wonderful tenderness, smoke flavor is nuanced rather than overwhelming, and our sauces are made to be complementary to the meat. There is absolutely nothing wrong with other styles, but our style just tends to be something you can enjoy more often than the others.
It must be nuts, operating restaurants in three different states (MS, NC and GA). How in the world do you stay focused and organized?
Who said anything about organized and focused? Seriously, it can get overwhelming at times but you just have to stay on track and focus on doing the right thing, serving great food and giving great service.
People always refer to you by your “first woman champion in barbecue” status. Do you get tired of being identified by gender that way, considering all your accomplishments?
I tell everyone that there are no women’s tees in barbecue. We all have to compete against each other. For me, it’s not really about being a female barbecue champion. It’s about being a barbecue champion and doing the absolute best I can do.
On a more personal note, you work closely in the restaurants with your husband, Pete. How do you pull that off without getting miffed at one another?
While we do get miffed occasionally, we are lucky in that we share the same philosophies on barbecue and business, so there’s not a ton of disagreements. We also know that we share the same goals, which helps keep us focused on the important things rather than getting caught up in some inconsequential disagreement.