portraits from the pitKansas City and Memphis have ketchup. The Carolinas have their mustard and vinegar. Alabama has mayonnaise and white BBQ sauce! Northern Alabama has established itself as a force in the barbeque world, largely in part due to the success of Big Bob Gibson in Decatur, Alabama. I was born in Decatur. Growing up, I lived down the road from a barbeque place. My pastor had a barbeque restaurant. And now, I live in Brooklyn where barbeque is one of the latest food crazes to hit the scene. Needless to say, I know a thing or two about smoked meats. On a recent trip back home, I hit up Big Bob Gibson’s pitmaster Chris Lilly. On a sunny Saturday at 10am, I met Lilly at the Danville Road location he helped to open in 1991. The restaurant was abuzz in preparation for a busy college football gameday. A house divided, I saw “Roll Tide” and “War Eagle” shirts all over the kitchen. Lilly escorted me to the “pit room” where chickens were coming straight off the smoker and immediately immersed into a bowl of the famous white sauce. Back in the kitchen, pork shoulders were undressed from their plastic wraps and mopped with sauce then hacked to pieces to later make a home on a plate or bun. Big Bob Gibson’s has a stable of local meat suppliers and uses hickory wood to create a signature taste. Using techniques that go all the way back to 1925 and dominating the barbeque competition circuit, Lilly lifted them from a neighborhood joint to a nationally-recognized powerhouse. As Lilly explained it, “Initially, people think of it [white sauce] as a novelty…that’s until they taste it. White sauce has helped Northern Alabama become it’s own barbeque region.” Don’t have a trip planned to Alabama (they also have a North Carolina location) anytime soon? Satisfy your curiosity and order some sauce at BigBobGibson.com HERE.
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