Q: Alabama’s Barbecue Legends
Alabama Public Television Education

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Posted Aug 27, 2015

Q: Alabama’s Barbecue Legends

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Alabama has more barbecue joints per capita than any other state. We love our BBQ! Now, Alabama Public Television is proud to share a new film that tells the story behind the most popular dish in the state. Q: Alabama’s Barbecue Legends premieres on Sunday, September 6, at 6:00 p.m. on APT.

Filmmaker Norton Dill traveled the state to create a compelling story about Alabama barbecue traditions that reach back for generations. The film showcases the iconic places managed by their founders (like at Archibald’s) or their descendants (Dreamland, Bob Sykes and Big Bob Gibson); the old-guard Golden Rule and newcomers Saw’s and Smokin’ on the Boulevard; the stalwart independents and roadside stands along with the growing franchisors like Jim ’N Nick’s; husbands and wives, fathers and sons, partners and pit masters.

“If Alabama had an official smell, it would have to be hickory smoke,” said Lee Sentell, Director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “Places like Memphis, Kansas City, the Carolinas and Texas have almost singularly defined styles of barbecue, but Alabama has adopted the best of all these disparate traditions and added quite a few of its own.”

Other storylines extend beyond the people to the food itself, from the main attraction – be it pork butt or ribs, chicken, beef brisket or sausage – to sides and desserts, from collard greens to banana cream pies. Storylines in the film also address the variety of sauces from place to place and among regions. Each establishment sets itself apart from the next with its own unique approach.

Interviewed in the film:

 Sam Nakos, Demetri’s BBQ, Homewood

 Cliff Mortimer, Barbecue Stop, Clay

 Earlie “Bam” Threatt, R & B Bar-B-Q, Lincoln

 John Bishop Jr., The Original Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Tuscaloosa

 Van Sykes, Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, Bessemer

 Dale Pettit, Top Hat Barbecue, Blount Springs

 Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur

 Don McLemore, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur

 Mike Holley, Chuck Wagon BBQ, Madison

 Melvin Rogers, Melvin’s Place of BBQ, Huntsville

 Tim Fife, Tim’s Walk Hard BBQ, Leesburg

 Wade Reich, Butts To Go, Pell City

 Rusty Tucker, Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds

 Beth Tucker, Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds

 Carolyn Jackson, McMillan Bar-B-Que, Mobile

 T.J. Allen, Hog Wild BBQ, Gulf Shores

 Caitlin Glosson, Hog Wild BBQ, Gulf Shores

 Jeff Frazier, L.A. Barbecue, Summerdale

 Mike Hancock, Hancock’s Bar-B-Que, Selma

 Lula Hatcher, Lannie’s Bar-B-Q Spot, Selma

 Alphonso Hatcher, Lannie’s Bar-B-Q Spot, Selma

 Danny “Fat Boy” Loftin, Fat Boy’s Bar-B-Que Ranch, Prattville

 Nick Pihakis, Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, Birmingham

 Matthew Statham, Saw’s BBQ, Homewood

 Willie Gardner, The Original Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Tuscaloosa

 John T. Edge, Director, Southern Foodways Alliance

 Chef Frank Stitt, James Beard Award Winning Chef/Restaurateur

 Dr. Joshua Rothman, Professor of History, University of Alabama

 Annette Thompson, Travel Writer, Author of Alabama Barbecue

 Lee Sentell, Director, Alabama Tourism Department

The story told by the Alabama barbecue documentary complements such initiatives as the 2014 book Alabama Barbecue, the Masters of Alabama BBQ photo exhibit/tour and the Alabama BBQ Trail mobile app, all launched as part of the 2015 Year of Alabama BBQ.

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Melvin Rogers of Melvin's Place of BBQ in Huntsville

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Barbecue is carefully managed in the grill pit to maximize flavor and texture.

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Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur

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Earlie "Barn" Threatt of R & B Bar-B-Q in Lincoln

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