May 25, 2022


The View On Cooking

Barbecue in Milwaukee lives on in traditional, new Black pitmasters

2 min read

Everywhere you look, it’s barbecue.

Interest began skyrocketing more than a decade ago: a boom in new restaurants, new TV shows, new cookbooks, attention in food magazines. Barbecue has become a national obsession that stretches far beyond the South, the region it’s most associated with. 

But something hasn’t been seen everywhere: The faces of Black barbecuers. Odd, since they’re key in the development of American barbecue. 

Adrian Miller, the author of the new “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue,” took note. He was astonished, while watching a Paula Deen special on barbecue, that not one of the people interviewed on the show was Black, even though he could see Black pitmasters working in the background.

“It showed me that amid all this barbecue abundance, something was missing. What was missing was public acknowledgment of, and appreciation for, African American barbecuers and what they’ve contributed to this hallowed culinary tradition,” he says in the book’s introduction. 

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