Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cook's Barbecue: Born in the Pits

Cooks Barbecue at the end of Valiant Drive in Lexington, NC. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus


In 1969, Doug Cook built his barbecue stand by hand, in a cul-de-sac plot down the road from home. There wasn’t much to Cook’s Barbecue at first: a pit/kitchen, a wooden chopping block, and drive-up window. When customers wanted a place to sit and eat their chopped barbecue plates, Doug Cook felled trees from the surrounding oak grove, and built himself a dining room. 


Brandon Cook and Cook’s Barbecue were born just one year apart. Friends and family jokingly tell the younger Cook that he was born in his father Doug’s barbecue pits. He remembers crawling in the fireplace as a child, flirting with the waitresses as a teenager, and eventually, under his the elder Cook’s tutelage, learning how to tend the pits, shovel-sling the cherry-red hickory coals, and slow smoke the Lexington-style shoulders.      


For years Brandon Cook avoided Cook’s; he viewed the future of barbecue—not just the business but the art form—with skepticism. In 2001, he returned to his family's restaurant, inheriting the role of pitmaster. Fitting for a man born in a pit.

- Rien Fertel/ The Barbecue Bus

Brandon Cook at Cook's Barbecue. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
Cook's Barbecue dining room. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Brandon Cook holds a shoulder fresh from the pit at Cook's Barbecue in Lexington, NC. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Wood coals glow in the pit at Cook's Barbecue. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)


Pork shoulders on the pit at Cook's Barbecue. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
Brandon Cook takes a break before adding wood to the pit fire. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

The cat named Barbecue rubs against a statue outside Cook's Barbecue. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
The dining hall at Cook's Barbecue. ( Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Cook's Barbecue hush puppies. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Young cooks fry hush puppies and chop barbecue in the kitchen. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

The lean meat is separated from the bone, the fat and the skin before chopping. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)


"Dip" is added the chopped barbecue at Cook's in Lexington, NC. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Cook's Barbecue, Lexington, North Carolina. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Cook's Barbecue
 366 Valiant Drive
Lexington, NC 27292


(336) 798-1928

Hours of Operation:
Wed - Thurs 11am - 2pm & 3:30pm - 8:30 pm
Fri - Sat 11am - 9pm
Sunday 11am - 8:30pm

2 comments:

  1. I love the old country ambiance. It feels authentic and the wood I heard helps enrich the aroma of the roast.

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