The BBQ Chronicles
with Chef Patrick McDonnell
Chef Patrick McDonnell is a classically trained chef with international experience in some of the finest restaurants in New York and throughout Europe. He has been involved in just about every aspect of the food industry, from creating new restaurant concepts and introducing new brands to food photography, writing and marketing. A slow-smoked BBQ aficionado, he travels the country for Smoke‘NFast seeking regional inspirations and insights he can bring to our products and recipes.
A Visit to Billy’s Pork and Beef Center Wallace, NC
Billy’s is a throwback. It’s found in a squat red brick building in Wallace, population 4000. You’ll know it by the large BBQ sign on top and the pickup trucks surrounding the front. Inside, you’ll notice there are no tables. BBQ is strictly to go. The cashier has to leave her register to make my pulled pork sandwich.
Billy’s BBQ preparation method uses a combination of high heat and cast iron. Billy’s calls it “grease smoking.” They cook their pork shoulders off the bone sandwiched between a specially built lattice tipped double grill and a heavy cast-iron lid. As the fat hits the flame below, it chars and the flavor travels back up into the pork. Vernell “Bo” Judge is the pit master and chef, an old-school savant with a knowledge of Southern cooking handed down from generations of Judges. Depending on the day, your pulled pork sandwich could come with collards with turnips, or a fresh potato salad, or crowder peas with country ham. All enriched by his skillful approach. The sides that sit alongside his pulled pork are like a rowdy, happy family. Be sure to try all that you can.
Billy’s is well worth the pilgrimage from Wilmington or Myrtle Beach. The proof is the full cars of UNC students who make that journey after all-night parties and homecomings and wait in the parking lot for the store to open. Billy’s is that good!
- Chef Patrick McDonnell