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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 08-18-2011, 11:02 AM   #1
SmokeInDaEye
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Default Help with Memphis BBQ Masters

I've spent a lot of time eating barbecue in Memphis over the years but I've never really given much thought to who is actually turning out the food at some of my favorite spots (Central, The Bar-B-Q Shop, Germantown Commissary, etc).

Long story short, I'm back in Memphis and want to interview 2-3 of the top pit masters in town. Any suggestions?
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Unread 08-18-2011, 11:04 AM   #2
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Um, call the joints and ask the GM?
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Unread 08-18-2011, 11:13 AM   #3
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Hey Clint I would start by walking into a bar grab a beer and play the part of a tourist. Ask a couple of bartenders. Bartenders know everything when it comes to the highlights of there city. Especially in Memphis they will at least point you in the right direction.

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Unread 08-18-2011, 11:22 AM   #4
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Paynes has about the best BBQ sandwich in town.
Cozy Corner has the best BBQ chicken.
Leonards has gone back to their old recipes and is relevant again.
The Rendevouz is of course still in the mix.
Their is a chain called Tops that lots of locals love.

I like your list. I prefer Central's ribs and GCs pulled pork. The last time I did the Shop I was not impressed. I was told it was a new crew but it could have been just illness or something.

If you tire of BBQ and like fried chicken you almost owe it to yourself to try Gus's or Uncle Lou's. Awesome chicken.
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Unread 08-18-2011, 12:16 PM   #5
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Let me ask it in another way. If I had a few hours to interview the most interesting BBQ personalities in Memphis who would you recommend?

I'm only in town for two days, hanging with my family and having dinner with the owners of Gus's the first and have part of the second day to get some video work done so I want to arrive with a plan.

I guess I could always settle for the Neely's but that seems like a cop out! :)
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Unread 08-18-2011, 12:26 PM   #6
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Actually, I just found an amazing guide to Memphis pit masters. I'm thinking I shoot for Jim Neely (interstate), John Vergos (rendezvous), Desiree Robinson (Cozy Corner) and Walker Taylor (Germantown Commissary). Eric Vernon and his father Frank from the Bar-B-Q Shop seem interesting, too.
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Unread 08-18-2011, 12:33 PM   #7
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Jim Neely Pat & Gina
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Unread 08-18-2011, 01:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeInDaEye View Post
Actually, I just found an amazing guide to Memphis pit masters. I'm thinking I shoot for Jim Neely (interstate), John Vergos (rendezvous), Desiree Robinson (Cozy Corner) and Walker Taylor (Germantown Commissary). Eric Vernon and his father Frank from the Bar-B-Q Shop seem interesting, too.
Boy I am behind on the pitmasters. Desiree is now the pitmaster at Cozy Corner. I am afraid to ask what happened to Raymond.

Good list except I am not a real big Neely's fan. I think Mom would be the best interview of the group. I really like Walker Taylor. He is a real character. I don't know John Vergos but have watched him on channel 5 news before. He would probably do really well. I can't remember the pitmaster as Central's name but he is a man of few words. I didn't even know Walkers name. I was in there last month and told the waitress that I thought the Q was absolutely perfect and a little later out he came to thank us. That place is a lot of fun.

You are not interested but I would love to see a story on Dan Brown. The owner of Leonards. When I was attending Southwester/Rhodes in the 60s Leonards was our place. It went way down hill for years and I am surprised it stayed open. When Dan bought it he brought back the old way of doing things and it is good Q now. It arouse from the dead.

Of course out of towners will love any piece on the Neely's. You could do both places and get the brothers arguing about wet or dry ribs. Man they serve a lot of mediocre BBQ to the tourists.
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Unread 08-18-2011, 01:32 PM   #9
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Rendezvous founder Charlie Vergos passed away 2010.
Here is a great article about him.
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news...e-vergos-dies/
Great place to eat. Wife & I go everytime we are in Memphis.
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Unread 08-18-2011, 01:49 PM   #10
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Charlie was a trip and a great guy. When we opened Number One Beale he was about the only thing downtown. Hard to believe how down it was compared to today and Charlie was maybe the main force behind the revival.

He sure thought for himself. When the railroad stopped their food service Charlie hired a whole crew of Pullman waiters. No place in the country had better service when they were still able to work.
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Unread 08-18-2011, 02:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BamaRambler View Post
Rendezvous founder Charlie Vergos passed away 2010.
Here is a great article about him.
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news...e-vergos-dies/
Great place to eat. Wife & I go everytime we are in Memphis.
You know for some reason I knew that in the back of my head but wasn't 100% sure. When I was down last for Memphis in May I sat with John Willingham for about an hour and that was a real treat.
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Unread 08-18-2011, 02:23 PM   #12
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Geez, then give him a call.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 09:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeInDaEye View Post
I've spent a lot of time eating barbecue in Memphis over the years but I've never really given much thought to who is actually turning out the food at some of my favorite spots (Central, The Bar-B-Q Shop, Germantown Commissary, etc).

Long story short, I'm back in Memphis and want to interview 2-3 of the top pit masters in town. Any suggestions?
S i d e so how are things going?
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Unread 08-19-2011, 10:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeInDaEye View Post
You know for some reason I knew that in the back of my head but wasn't 100% sure. When I was down last for Memphis in May I sat with John Willingham for about an hour and that was a real treat.
I really miss Willingham's.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bam View Post
S i d e so how are things going?
Fine, Huck. How are you? You coming to visit in New Holland, maybe lend a hand?

As for memphis, I'm going in 2 weeks, just want to reach out in advance and set up the interviews versus chasing people on the ground.
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