How Rodney Scott discovered the secret to whole hog barbecue in South Carolina

Barbecue is truly Southern. After all, just look at how Southerners unite across racial, class and political lines in dunking on pitiful BBQ in Brooklyn.

Spanish settlers encountered indigenous people cooking meats slowly over indirect flame as early as Columbus’s maiden voyage. As the conquistadors moved toward the mainland, they carried the barbacoa tradition with them as far north as Virginia. Regional styles developed based on the interactions of colonists, indigenous people and enslaved Africans.

So many of the food traditions of the South were born out of these forced interactions. Including whole hog barbecue. Some argue American barbecue must’ve been truly born in the Carolinas because there are so many distinct flavor styles in the state.

I don’t know if it was born there, but I know that South Carolina pitmaster Rodney Scott has perfected it.

This week on the Reckon Interview, Chef Scott shared the secrets to good whole hog barbecue and offered his top five spots for BBQ in the South.

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Below is a transcript of the episode.

John Hammontree: This season, we’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling in the south. And I think one of the great storytelling traditions in the South is probably food and barbecue in particular. You grew up there in Hemingway, South Carolina. And there’s a lot offood writers and theorists that think barbecue itself originated in South Carolina. Tell me about growing up in Hemingway and learning whole hog barbecue from your father and your great uncle and your family.

Rodney Scott: Man growing up in Hemingway was something unique. You know, you’re in a rural area, everything is at least 10 to 15 minutes away. A lot of farmers, a lot of sharecropping, few factories in the area. Growing up, you worked on the farm. You learned how to crop tobacco, plant corn and gardens, and we grew soybeans, those kinds of things. And we also cut wood to cook hogs. So cooking hogs was a normal thing that would go on around that area back in the 70s 80s. And currently as well.

Hammontree: You did not like tobacco farming, I understand. That was not your favorite part of your childhood?

Scott: I did not like tobacco farming. Oh my goodness, everything from setting the plants in the field when you plant them to pulling the extra stems out which we called suckles. Everything from spraying the tobacco, making sure the worms don’t eat it all, to breaking it off the stalks, to putting it in the barn. Cooking it. Unloading the barn. Pulling it off the sticks. Putting it in these big old sheets, is what they called them, like burlap sacks. And taking them to the market. Every step of it, I did not like.

Hammontree: Did you always like cooking hogs? Or was that something that you kind of realized later, oh, I could make a living out of this?

Scott: I kind of realized later. I didn’t always like cooking hogs. It was always easier to not even be in the fields in the sunshine. But you can be inside the pits, even though you’re around the fire, it was a lot cooler cooking the hogs than it was out in the fields farming tobacco.

Hammontree: In the first half of the 20th century, a lot of people from South Carolina moved—a lot of Black people, in particular, from South Carolina—moved up to Philadelphia. People from Alabama moved up to Detroit and Chicago and, you know, the whole Great Migration. And I understand your parents weren’t part of that early Great Migration but moved up to Philadelphia later and that’s where they met. And then they moved home to South Carolina when you were born? Or shortly before you were born?

Scott: Shortly after I was born. My mom told me they moved back from Philadelphia back to South Carolina.

Hammontree: Did you have any sort of kinship or connection to Philly or anywhere up north?

Scott: Other than the Eagles, the Phillies and the Sixers? Yeah, there were a few family members there. Some of my mom’s cousins were there. Aunts and uncles lived in the Philadelphia area. And she went up there and she was living with one of her sisters. And she began to work up there and live in Philadelphia for short while. Then I was born and she decided to bring us back South.

Hammontree: And your dad, he owned several businesses there in South Carolina. And I understand you weren’t entirely excited about this, but at some point as you were graduating from high school, a classmate of yours said that you’d never amount to anything more than working for one of your dad’s barbecue businesses. Is that more or less right?

Scott: That is absolutely correct. So my dad not only farmed but we had a general store. He cut wood for the barbecue and he sold wood a little bit every now and again throughout the winter. So we were always doing a little bit of things here and there and he ran a little bit of mechanic work along the way.

So in graduating, I’m excited, you know, all happy and thinking I’m gonna make the best of my life from this day forward. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m going to do something. And this girl says to me, “you’re not going to be anything, you’re just going to be down the street cooking barbecue.” And man, that thing clicked, it stayed with me. And it still does. I just was determined to get out of there and do the best that I can do. And barbecue was the one thing that I knew that I said, “What can I do with barbecue? How can I make the best of this thing?” And it was constant. Trying to break it down to figure it out. How to get successful with it. How to make it more popular. How to sell so much that you can barely keep up. So, it was the constant dreaming and imagining how to break this thing down. And I said, I can make the best of this situation. If I go ahead and take advantage of what I have.

Hammontree: Whole hog barbecue is kind of a disappearing tradition. It’s not something that every barbecue restaurant that you go to—it’s a very time intensive, labor intensive process. And it gives you a lot of time on your hands to kind of think about things. It takes what 10 hours? 12 hours? To slow cook a whole hog?

Scott: To cook a whole hog it takes anywhere from 10 to 12. Our style usually takes us about 12 hours. The mind is a weird place when it’s just idling along for 12 hours. You know, you think a lot of things.

Hammontree: Tell me how you pass the time. I mean, do you listen to music? Do you tell stories with friends? What do you do in order to pass that 12-hour period?

Scott: All of that man. If you got some great company with you, you tell stories with your friends. You talk about your day or your week before, you talk about what you may want to do the next day when you get done. And then there was music. Music was always that storyteller. For me, I noticed that music was anywhere from three to five minutes of song in a story. So in my mind, I would listen to each story that each song had to say, what type of rhythm it had, what instruments that I can pick out in the background like the electric guitar, the bass, the drummer, the cymbal. These are all things that I would just kind of try to pay attention to. Before you know it, you’ve passed these 12 hours while you’re working, listening to music.

Hammontree:  You first kind of started experimenting with your parents’ business model and kind of introducing storytelling to their overall business. You changed the color on the walls in order to stand out a little bit more. And it was a color that had a specific relationship with you and your mom, I understand?

Scott: Yes. So that that color. My mom had gotten a Cadillac. A ‘79 sedan, DeVille Cadillac. And it was like a sky blue and white vinyl top, white interior. And before she got that car, I noticed one when I was younger, and I was like, “Wow, that’s a pretty color.” And I fell in love with the color so much. I said what if the car and the building was the same color? And my mom gave me the opportunity to pick out the color and I said, “I want light blue on the building.” Because, also, Home Economics taught us that red, yellow, were the common colors that attract your attention to a lot of fast-food joints. And if you pay attention, the average fast-food joint is in red, yellow or white, or maybe orange. So I felt like that Carolina blue, that light blue was the color that was next in line that would get capture people’s attention. But also it was unique. Because it wasn’t your standard red, yellow, orange type of paint.

Hammontree: I mean that’s a bold move in South Carolina, painting your building Carolina blue. Did you ever catch any hell from local Gamecocks fans or Clemson fans or anything like that?

Scott: Well, Clemson fans I never paid them any attention anyway. But Carolina fans, no. Didn’t hear anything much. You know, when we first chose the colors, I didn’t think about that. I said well, “It’s Carolina blue. Let’s not focus on the colleges. South Carolina. And it has blue.” I remember about two people maybe saying something to me about that’s not the Carolina color. It should have been Crimson or burgundy or whatever you want to say the color is. But I stuck with the blue. I wanted to stick with the light blue.

Hammontree: And is that the same blue that’s like a haint blue? Is that like the blue that wards away spirits and things like that?

Scott: Yeah. I was told somebody said. This lady said to me once, she said “great choice. Did you know that this color is supposed to ward away evil spirits?” And I told her I said, “Well, I think it works a little bit sometimes.” But overall, it’s been working for me.

Hammontree: But it didn’t necessarily work out all the time because there was a moment of tragedy where your pit burned down. And at that point, you had been getting tugged at by John T. Edge, and some others, to I guess move out of Hemingway and open up a spot in Charleston or elsewhere. And that was kind of the moment where you first went on the road really showing people across the Southeast and across the country what you could do.

Scott: Yeah, so there was that time, and we did have a fire. And John T. and Nick, you know, they chimed in and they helped me get myself back together to get the original business going. In the midst of getting that back up and running, there was always that thought of, “Hey, why don’t you expand? Why don’t you go to Charleston?” Of course, I was in complete doubt. “Nah, I’m all right out here in the country. This is where people come to live when they retire. I think I’m okay.”

But all the same time, the warm reception on the exile tour, and the pop ups that we’ve done here and there in Charleston and different areas were so welcoming. I was like, “Hey, I don’t know, but this sounds pretty good.” And Nick, he just kept coming after me saying, Hey, dude, I’m telling you. You should expand.” And before you know it, I gave in. And here we are. Charleston, South Carolina, Birmingham.

Hammontree: And this Nick, you’re referring to, he is the Nick of Jim ‘n Nick’s is that, right?

Scott: That is the Nick of Jim ‘n Nick’s

Hammontree: So it’s an interesting mindset that he has this very successful barbecue chain. But he’s also coming out to you and saying, “Hey, why don’t you open up your own barbecue spot?” I know, y’all became business partners at some point, but kind of that mindset of creating almost a competitor is an interesting mindset of Nick’s. Tell me about how you and Nick became friends and colleagues and partners.

Scott: Well, first of all, I met Nick through John T. in a phone call where we exchanged numbers. And when I first met Nick, we had a conversation, he invited me to come to an event in Charleston. At his store here in Charleston, downtown. And we did the event, and that same day, me and Nick hit it off. We were friends from the beginning. Then we got even closer, we traveled, we learned together, we talked barbecue. We did different events together. And we were so so close, to a point where we would just call and say, “Hey, I have an idea. What do you think?” And vice versa. We continuously learned from each other, and we still do.

So in creating this relationship, I saw Nick’s success in the way that he grew his business. And every time I would ask a question, if he didn’t know, he was honest with me, and if he did, he shared it with me. So I said, hey, this guy is just more than just another guy doing barbecue. You know, he’s like a brother. And it got to the point where Nick was the best man at my wedding before any partnership, or any Rodney Scott’s came along, Nick and I were just super tight man. Still are.

Hammontree: As he was persuading you to come to Charleston, how were your parents reacting there in Hemingway?

Scott: My parents. My mom was like, “Yes. Sounds like a great idea. You should look into it. Why not go for it?” My dad was the reserved type, you know, older country guy, kinda, “uh, I don’t know, how’s this going to work?” When he found out that it would be two separate things going on, he seemed to be okay with it. He was like, “Sure. Go ahead, go for it, you know,” he was still a little reserved on his open opinions and everything were kind of reserved, but he still said go for it.

Hammontree: And then a few years later, I don’t know if it was the very first year that you opened but all of a sudden you are being recognized as the James Beard winner for the best chef in the southeast.

Scott: Yeah, that was a huge step. That was a huge accomplishment. To this day, I’m still excited about that day, that moment, that evening in Chicago. And overall grateful of the people that I encountered up into that award. You know, Nick, of course, was always in my corner, John T. Nicholas, Paul Yeck, all these people, my wife, everybody that was in my world stuck by me and showed me different things and kind of constantly taught me and supported me in whatever thoughts and ideas that we had. To a point where we got recognized to win this James Beard award. You know, that’s the night that I still appreciate, I’ll always appreciate. And I definitely appreciate all the people that were involved to help me grow to that point.

Hammontree: And it was still pretty new, at that time, for barbecue to be recognized with that level of award. I think it was typically going to sort of the white tablecloth type restaurants, fine dining establishments. What did it mean, not just for you, but for places like your parents’ place in Hemingway, for shops like that in South Carolina to be recognized?

Scott: For the barbecue world, especially, because I’ve got tons and tons of calls. I had to turn my phone off that night because of the ceremony, of course. And when I turned it back on the next morning, it was like a long beep from all the messages. And most of those messages came from BBQ pitmasters. Well known, some from little pockets in rural areas, to others that are on TV or different places like that, showing gratitude and appreciation saying, “Thank you, you know, finally we’ve got our turn, we’ve been recognized.” You know, you have shown the world that the barbecue folks are here. We exist. We work hard, our food is just as great as anybody else’s. So, it gave a lot of inspiration to a lot of people who just do mostly barbecue. It gave a lot of inspiration to up and coming pitmasters who are looking to get into barbecue. So, I just I just felt grateful and very appreciative, more than excited to say that I was a part of barbecue getting recognized on another level.

Hammontree: Now that you are opening up more and more restaurants, obviously you are not cooking at each one of them all the time. I know that when you open the restaurant there in Birmingham, you came and stayed there for several months again that went up on its feet. I imagine you’ll do something similar in Atlanta where you’re training the local pitmasters there. Does it feel weirder to be moving away from that daily grind of working one pit all day long to kind of being almost a brand? You know, Rodney Scott is almost an Emeril.

Scott: First of all, it’s a different feeling. It’s an adjustment. But let me also say that, uh, there’s a lot of miles on that diesel, man. I go from restaurant to restaurant as much as I can. I’m willing to still put in whatever I can. I pulled hogs at both restaurants within the last three weeks. So I still get involved as much as they allow me to. Because a lot of times you go in there, and there’s a pit guy that’s doing his thing. And he’s caught up, he’s on point. There’s nothing left for me to do but stand there and shoot the breeze and sip on some water. I still go into the restaurant as much as I can and try to hang out a little bit with some of the guys in the back. Or girls in the back. Because women do cook barbecue too. Let me make that make that known. As much as I can, I go to each restaurant and hang out.

Hammontree: And now you have launched a book where you are training people from their homes, to build their own pits in a relatively inexpensive way. I guess there in Birmingham, somebody came and stole your whole rig so they were a little too aggressive. You should have just given them the book. How does somebody pull that off?

Scott: Good luck, guy. There’s only one of them. Make sure I don’t see you. I’m gonna call the police. You know, apparently, they had to know that I was nowhere in the area at the time. I don’t know. You know, my staff thought that I gave somebody permission. I don’t know. And you know, I didn’t give anybody permission and whoever stole it. I mean, just be nice. Bring it back. If you need something, let us know. But it’s a little heartbreaking because you don’t have to steal anything. You know, we’ll share with you. This book is coming out. We’ll tell you how to do this at home where you don’t have to steal this rig. And it’s known all over so they can’t ever pull it in public. So just bring it back, drop it off. We’ll say thank you and don’t come back to steal anything else from us again. Bring our rig back.

Hammontree: Because, looking through your book, all you have to really do is lay down these concrete cinder blocks, big old tank, and you can you can do some of this stuff. I mean not the level of what you’re doing. But you can do an approximation of it at home.

Scott: Yeah, you know, in the book, we try to tell you how to build the pits and make the barrel and all you need is a little space and you’re good.

Hammontree: You have a saying that you are known for and associated with, “every day is a good day.” Do have that right?

Scott: Yes, every day is a good day. I say it all the time.

Hammontree: It’s got to be a little bit harder to have said that in this past year than maybe in some of the years before. In the food industry, the pandemic hit restaurants hard. The pandemic hit plants hard. I think you raise most of your own hogs, or at least get them locally sourced. How have you maintained that “every day is a good day,” mindset in a year where you’ve had to close your businesses for a time, where you had a rig stolen there in Birmingham?

Scott: Ah man, I continue to say it. I say it even more. You know, if I said every day is a good day, once a day or twice a day, during those tough times, I tried to say it as much as 10 times a day. Because you have to keep your head up. I know, these are challenging times. These are very, very scary times. I remember I couldn’t hold my head up to face my staff. Because I was afraid, “How will they survive, if we can’t keep all of them at work?” We got to a point, where we all spoke on the phone and we agreed that we’re in this business right now to maintain. We’re not here to make money, we’re here to maintain. To make sure our staff is okay. Because these are the people that we count on and they count on us. So, we were more focused on making sure our staff was okay. Luckily, we got to the point where we just started utilizing our drive thru a lot more. We stayed in constant communication daily with all CDC rules and regulations, all personal and local rules and regulations, trying to go above and beyond to protect ourselves as well as our staff so that they can stay safe for their families.

So, each day that I see a person or we made it along the day and nobody was affected by this pandemic, I would say every day is a good day. Every day is good day. Constantly saying it to a point where I was able to face them again and business started to pick up to a point where they were able to come back into the restaurant to help us with third parties and drive-thrus and to-go orders. It’s like saying never give up. Yes. It’s a challenge. Yes, it’s been a tough year. But at the same time, every day is a good day, because you’re alive, you have a chance to adjust to make it to the next hour.

Hammontree: Barbecue is such a communal activity. In addition to the restaurants, you’ve done these big events where people gather in fields. It does feel like we’ve kind of been denied that as a community for the last year. What are you looking forward to most about when we are sort of able to reopen things a little bit more normally? I know things have started to reopen in Alabama and South Carolina and Georgia. What are you most looking forward to about post-vaccine, pandemic life?

Scott: What I’m looking forward to post-vaccine and post-pandemic is to be able to stand and hold a conversation with folks up close and personal again. Not necessarily all in their faces, but to just to be able to talk and not be afraid of where that person’s been. To comfortably give them advice when they ask “how do you do your hogs.” To comfortably hold a conversation with them. And to be able to sit at a table with a stranger and say, “how’s your food?” You know, my thing was to walk through my dining room and constantly check on our guests. And the pandemic slowed that down. So I’m excited to get back to that. To get to that table to say “hello, how are you? How’s your food? Where are you from? Share your stories with me.” What you know about barbecue, and we will exchange ideas and stories and regions and how we grew up. I’m looking forward to getting back to that. The personalization of talking about how we do food. Getting to know people who do different styles of barbecue. I’m so excited to get back to that.

Hammontree: Each of your recipes, not all of them, but several of the items on your menu are named after somebody. Walk us through the stories behind some of your favorite dishes that you serve.

Scott: The stories behind favorite dishes that I serve all are parts of me growing up. All are parts of me encountering and learning different things along the way, from childhood to current day. Ella’s banana pudding. That’s my mom. My mom used to make banana pudding on Sundays. And she would give me the broken vanilla wafers in the bottom of the box. I would always want extra cookies or just wait for that box. And that’s why I wanted banana pudding, because it was a great memory for me. You know, Coco’s chicken salad is in the book. That’s my wife. She’s been there for me through everything, from the journey from Hemingway all the way to Charleston. Even when we travel she’s been there with me. So when you see names on the menu, those are different people that we’ve encountered. Paul Yeck’s smoke catfish. You know, Paul’s one of the chefs that works with our PRG group. Amazing dude, very funny. I look to him again as more than just the guy I know. But as a brother, a friend. So each recipe that you see that has a name with it. Those people had an important part somewhere in the life of Rodney Scott. That’s why you see them mentioned.

Hammontree: And you are now sharing this legacy, the same one that you inherited from your dad with your own son. How is that training your son to cook hogs?

Scott: Well, training my son to cook is great when the internet is down. Because this kid is a huge gamer. Every time you look, he’s on his video games. But we haven’t had the opportunity to cook a whole hog yet. He’s now 12. But we’ve done little things in the backyard. We’ve had him at the restaurant doing little things. Like you know, prepping the hog. The guys in the kitchen show him how to prep some of the dishes back there. Um, we’ve shown them how to season the ribs, how to peel the ribs. We’ve educated him here at the house on how to take his ground beef, season it through, make his patty, and cook it on the grill himself. So, we’re going through bits and pieces of little training and safety tips and everything that it takes to operate at home as well as at the pits. So, it’s going pretty good. When he’s into it, he’s into it. But you got to hurry because it’s not long before he wants to get back to his phone or video games.

Hammontree: He’s a little behind you, you cook your first hog at how old? 11?

Scott: 11, Yeah. I told him I said “Son, you’re past due. You’re way past.” You know, like I said we haven’t had the opportunity to go from start to finish where I wanted to just load it and let him do everything else along the way. So hopefully we’ll get to that sooner than later. We’re gonna try to race 13, and get that done.

Hammontree: For the pitmasters out there who are grinding away in Greensboro, Alabama, or Cullman, Alabama, you know, and they’re waiting for, for that New York Times reporter to come in and discover their restaurant and put them on the map. What’s your advice to somebody who’s trying to get discovered and get to the level where you are? Other than being a great chef, obviously.

Scott: I mean, my advice to all the guys that are in these areas, these little hidden pockets is keep cooking. Keep smoking. Keep putting that food out there. Don’t stop because, believe it or not, somebody is visiting. Somebody is getting lost in traffic that may come and smell or find your food. Somebody is passing through, visiting some relatives that are strangers to the area and discovering a whole new style of food. So keep cooking, you never know. That thing is going to get told to someone else. It’s going to get said, “Hey, I went to this little town, I don’t know where it is, you cross this railroad track. And before you know it, you get to this little spot that has this great food.” And if these people keep cooking, and keep putting that great consistency out there, success is sure to come your away. People are gonna notice you. They’re going to hear about you. They’re going to talk. When something’s great, you can’t keep it secret. They’re going to tell. And so I say to those guys in these small towns, keep cooking. Wait, your turn. It is sure enough to come. You’ll see.

Hammontree: Your parents at one point lived in Philadelphia, and the great Southern food tradition has been carried to the North and to the West. If you go somewhere in LA it might be called soul food, but it’s Southern cooking through and through. Can we expect Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ to expand to Philly or to Chicago or to New York? Or is it going to be a purely Southern chain for the foreseeable future?

Scott: Man, I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that it’s going to be Southern-only. Rodney Scott has a dream. And that dream is to spread barbecue and a whole lot of love, fun and good vibes around the world. Yes, I said the world. I dream that we could take Rodney Scott’s barbecue and stick it in every state and every country in the entire world. That is my dream. That is my optimism. So for me to sit here and say it’s only going to be in the South, I can’t say that I can’t do that to you. If I’m allowed to, I will definitely try to grow it all over the entire world.

Hammontree: As you have had the opportunity to cook all around the world, have there been barbecue traditions and that you’ve maybe learned from other parts of the world unexpectedly that you’ve incorporated into your own food and style?

Scott: Well, I’ve been to several places. I’ve been to Belize, I’ve been to Australia, I’ve been to France. And we learned a lot of different styles, like the Asada style of barbecue, cooking over live fire. I’ve witnessed a lot of it, I haven’t practiced what I’ve seen from over there. But just seeing and learning some of their techniques. For example, how they did fish right over the hot coals. How they set me up to cook three little pigs, honestly, three little pigs, not a joke. And on this pit, it was just the pigs laid down and they were never covered. And you cook them wide open all day over hot coals. So you nearly had to kneel down in order to get under, to fire these coals. And I had to cook with no covering nothing holding the heat in and just making sure that everything continued to cook throughout the day, without losing it. That was a learning experience for me and I appreciated it. It also gave me confidence to understand that you can cook without a covering and still get your hogs done. So, when I’m home now, it doesn’t bother me if the cover wasn’t on it the entire time I’ll slide it back over tight or whatever. Because I’ve experienced cooking without it. It gave me some confidence. So haven’t really practiced a lot, but it has given me some lessons and some confidence and definitely some different experiences.

Hammontree: Coming up after the break. Chef Rodney Scott offers us his picks for the South must have barbecue spots.

Obviously, Rodney Scott is the tip of the top barbecue for the Southeast. But if you had to pick five other restaurants, not even just limiting it to the South, but if you had to pick five barbecue spots that are your must-go, highest recommended barbecue spots, what would they be?

Scott: Man, Helen Turner’s Barbecue in Brownsville, Tennessee. Sam Jones barbecue, of course, in North Carolina, Raleigh, recently. Joe’s in Kansas City. Yes, Kansas City. I was impressed. So many places. Jim ‘n Nicks, Believe it or not, yes, Jim ‘n Nicks. Peg Leg Porker. Wow Peg Leg Porker is in Nashville, Tennessee. So many places and, you know, those are the ones that are established that I know of, but I’m the kind of guy, every now and again, I want to hit those backroads. And I want to find those little local mom and pop places and see what they got going on. How they’re doing it. Their style, their sauce, their techniques. I want to get in there and kind of taste some of those as well. So you never know.

Hammontree: Well, let’s talk about sauce. Because I mean, South Carolina has what? At least five different types of sauces?

Scott: Oh man, it’s so many and it’s still growing.

Hammontree: When you moved and opened up your spot in Alabama, did you feel any pressure to add a light sauce. I know that’s more of a Decatur thing than a Birmingham thing. Is white sauce now part of your barbecue repertoire.

Scott: White sauce is definitely a part of my barbecue repertoire now. Not basically because of just moving to Alabama. But we also thought about it in the beginning when the idea was presented to me to have more than just one or two sauces on the table. So the Rod’s white sauce was one of the things that we came up with him and we love it. I love the white sauce. And we added that sauce and it couldn’t have come at a better time than when we opened in Alabama. So, it wasn’t necessarily pressure. But it was more or less another option for folks who are used to the white sauce down in the Birmingham, Alabama area.

Hammontree: Will you put white sauce on your pork or is that strictly a chicken thing?

Scott: I would put white sauce on my pork sometimes, all depends on the mood. You know, I like to eat man. I don’t know who all’s seen me, but I like to eat. And I will try it, you know, I will see what it tastes like. And if it works for me, I’m gonna go for it.

Hammontree: As you are expanding, you know, your barbecue world empire. We talked a little bit about the book, we talked a little bit about opening the restaurants in Atlanta and elsewhere in Birmingham. But what else is next for you?

Scott: First of all, I want to just say thanks to everybody that’s been supporting us for right now. And you know, what’s next is to probably just focus on opening some restaurants, get them going, getting back settled into the new normal that’s coming. Sharing good vibes, getting to know new people. I want to go back and make sure that everything is kind of the way it started, you know, with Rodney Scott enjoying the music, Rodney Scott in the pits, Rodney Scott walking the tables. I want to get back into that first and then maybe go finish growing these restaurants around the world.

Hammontree: We’ve talked a little bit about storytelling. To wrap us up, what is the best story you’ve ever heard while waiting on a hog to smoke?

Scott: So, I come from an area where a lot of great mechanics are. And they do a lot of street racing here and there on the back roads. And sometimes they go to the track and they do their thing. And a lot of older guys say, “ah you boys ain’t fast nowadays, you know, we was real fast.” And one guy said “my car was so fast, I could take a Coca Cola can, sit it in front of the front tire, and I can hit the accelerator, the front tire will go over the can and land on the other side. That’s how much power I had. Right?” This guy, same guy, that was one. And the second lie that he told that I’ll never forget is, “man, I was so fast. I could hit a man and run behind him and catch him before he falls.” And I’m like, what? So you hear the most unbelievable stories. And this same dude. One dude had so many of them. He said they had a mule that was so smart, in the afternoon his mom used to tell the mule,  “Go get them kids on the road.” And the mule would nod his head. And would walk to the road and wait for the school bus. And the mule would guide them from the school bus back to the house.

Hammontree: Do you miss Hemingway? I mean, mentioned that’s where people go to retire. Is that where you think you will retire there someday?

Scott: No. I’ve come to Mount Pleasant in Charleston area. I am spoiled with serene peace and beauty. I’m close to the beach, close to work. I think I love suburbia a little bit more than the rural areas right now.

Purchase Rodney Scott’s cookbook and restaurant locations at www.rodneyscottsbbq.com.

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