People and Places: The BBQ Gospel

People and Places

Barbecue. It defines Ayden native Sam Jones, a third-generation Pit Master. “Whole hog, wood-fired is what eastern North Carolina barbecue is defined by,” says Jones.

His grandfather started the legendary Skylight Inn back in 1947. Sam opened his own namesake barbecue joint in Winterville in 2015. You’ve seen him on national advertising campaigns. He’s also Ayden’s Fire Chief.

And you can now add another job title: Author. “To be able to get the opportunity to write a book is huge. To actually do it is a whole different thing,” Jones quipped.

His new book, released on May 7, is called “Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue with recipes from Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ.”

But for Jones, it’s more than that. Barbecue is a tradition. “I don’t want it to end when I end,” Jones added.

And inside the book, Jones shows you how to start a tradition of your own, right in your backyard. Sam said, “And so you can do what we do every day, what we do in Ayden every day, which is a dying breed. Just recently there’s been two or three legendary barbecue joints close in eastern North Carolina that were meccas. That have been around, just staples in the community. And what I hope this book does is make it where you don’t take your local barbecue joint for granted. The ones that are out there doing it the way it’s supposed to be done, putting the time, the energy and the effort in.”

The book shares step-by-step instructions for cooking a whole hog at home. “Your last name don’t have to be Jones to cook good barbecue,” said Jones.

Plus, there’s plenty of recipes, including the Jones family’s famous cornbread.

Now Jones will preach the eastern North Carolina Barbecue gospel all over the country this summer. A journey that always begins and ends at home. Jones says “Ayden, North Carolina. Pitt County. That’s where I’m from. That’s where I was born and raised. And so many times people have to leave rural America to chase their dreams and they only come back on holidays. I get a chance to leave eastern North Carolina and live my dreams only for my return flight to be coming back to Pitt County.” 

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