12 Pitmasters You Need to Know Around the U.S.


June 3, 2017 · by Sara Ventiera

Barbecue is having a long, extended moment and as a result, one can now find well-prepared, slow-smoked meat in every state in the U.S. And like chefs in the kitchen, pitmasters have risen to the ranks of international celebrities who come together for big smoked meat events like the upcoming Big Apple Barbecue. From old-school barbecue families to new-school barbecue geeks, here are 12 pitmasters you need to know.

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Photo courtesy Elizabeth Karmel

Elizabeth Karmel, Carolina ‘Cue to Go, North Carolina
As the founding executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market in NYC, Brooklyn and DC as well as Brooklyn’s Hill Country Chicken, Karmel is one of the pitmasters responsible for popularizing Texas-style barbecue in the North. But her influence extends well beyond her time at the NYC Texas-style joint. Karmel is also a food writer, cookware designer and all around advocate for bridging the outdoor cooking gender divide with her decade-old website, GirlsattheGrill.com, geared toward getting women out of the kitchen and into the fire pit. Although Karmel made her name in Texas-style beef and sausage, she recently returned to her North Carolina roots with her online barbecue shack, Carolina ‘Cue To-Go, where she blends Eastern North Carolina whole hog — inspired by Ed Mitchell’s killer ‘cue — with the tomato-infused sauce of her Western North Carolina birthplace.

Elizabeth Karmel