These Pitmasters Are Smoking 18,000 Pounds of Meat at Q in the Lou

St. Louis is one of the top destinations in the world for barbecue, and what better way to celebrate our legacy than bringing together a star-studded team of pitmasters in the Gateway City?

Q in the Lou, STL’s annual barbecue bonanza, is coming up on September 21-23, and this year’s event is set to be “bigger, better, and more BBQ-y than ever.”

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Below you’ll find some of the featured pitmasters who will be making their way to St. Louis this weekend. Prepare to loosen your belt, because you’re about to enter barbecue bliss.

Carey Bringle

From: Peg Leg Porker (Nashville, TN)

You gotta try: Carey’s Famous Turkey Breast

Carey’s barbeque has been racking up trophies for more than a quarter century. After tasting his West Tennessee dry ribs and his Famous Turkey Breast, you might be tempted to take a road trip down to Nashville. “I’m a pig smokin’, whiskey drinkin, barbeque legend,” says Bringle. “Have been for over 30 years and I don’t plan on stoppin’ anytime soon.”

Marlando “Big Moe” Cason

From: Ponderosa BBQ (Des Moines, IA)

You gotta try: Big Moe’s Famous Ribs

Big Moe is a household name in the barbeque biz. The food he cooks up has been featured on national television, and of course, plenty of plates. A U.S. Navy veteran-turned-BBQ pitmaster, Cason uses the skills and ingredients passed down from his grandmother, Margaret.

Mike Johnson and Christina Fitzgerald

From: Sugarfire Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)

You gotta try: Smoked Salmon Tacos

Johnson and Fitzgerald are a pitmaster power couple. Both born and raised in Missouri, the owners of Sugarfire fuse old school BBQ traditions with a new school twist — and the taste speaks for itself. “You show me someone who doesn’t like barbeque, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t tried our barbeque,” says Johnson.

Brad and Brooke Orrison

From: The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint (Ocean Springs, MS)

You gotta try: World Champion Whole Hog

The Orrison’s are the first to admit they’re competitive when it comes to barbeque. They’ve been making their way up the Mississippi River to attend Q in the Lou for 12 years and they’re coming full force again this year. Whether you’re in the mood for a rack of ribs or Serious Sausage, you won’t regret being fed by the Shed.

Garry and Leslie Roark

From: Ubons BBQ (Yazoo City, MS)

You gotta try: Smoked, Flame-Torched Chicken

Barbecue runs in the Roark bloodline. Ubons Roark cooked up the family tradition in the 70s, then passed the figurative (and literal) torch to his son Garry in the early 80s. From fried chicken to turkey tamales, this ‘cue from Yazoo will leave your mouth watering.

Scott Roberts

From: The Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood, TX)

You gotta try: Texas-Style Pit Brisket

Roberts makes it clear why nobody messes with Texas, especially when it comes to brisket. His recipes date back to the 1800s on the plains of Mississippi, and the family has been making mouths water ever since. The Salt Lick is most famous for running the oldest open BBQ pit in the USA, which has been smoking steadily for more than 50 years.

Mike Emerson

From: Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)

You gotta try: St. Louis-Style Brisket

If there’s any scent St. Louisans know best, it’s the sweet cherrywood smoke wafting over from Pappy’s in Midtown. Mike Emerson has solidified the Gateway City as one of the world’s premiere barbecue destinations, with appearances on the Travel Channel and a host of national publications. In fact, Emerson’s beard is now almost as famous as the food he serves up.

John David Wheeler

From: Memphis Barbecue Company (Horn Lake, MS)

You Gotta Try: Memphis-Style Ribs

This Memphis meat master isn’t just any old barbeque joint manager — he’s a 10-time world champ. This natural-born griller cut his teeth in one of the most competitive food scenes in the world, and one taste of his barbeque is enough to prove this guy knows his way around a rack of ribs.

Hungry? We thought so. Head out to Kiener Plaza on September 21, 22, or 23 to go hog-wild and see for yourself why Q in the Lou is the prime destination for barbeque buffs. General admission is free, but if you want to watch the pitmasters work their meaty magic up close while enjoying complimentary cocktails, we recommend the all-inclusive VIP treatment.

Either way, don’t forget your bib. Things are gonna get messy.

About the author

Dominic Vaiana

Dominic Vaiana is a writer in St. Louis.


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