BBQ Legends: Garry Roark
Here's a story from The Clarion Ledger of Mississippi about Garry Roark. You'll have the opportunity to meet Gary at the Big Apple BBQ Block party over the weekend.
Trafficking barbecue in the Big Apple: Pitmaster relishes opportunity
Yazoo City pitmaster Garry Roark has been bottling Ubon's "The Champion's Choice" barbecue sauce since the late 1980s and has had the restaurant Ubon's in Yazoo City for three years. Meanwhile though, his tasty flavors are spreading much farther afield than the closest Boston butt. And that's partly how he learned his never-say-never lesson.
"I said a few years ago, really, I would never drive in New York. ... I always wanted to go but I said, I'm not going to drive. And my first experience was pulling 16-foot barbecue trailer in all that traffic.
"I tell you what, you talk about country come to town - man! It scared the puddin' outta me."
This week, he'll do it again, for the third time taking Mississippi barbecue to New York.
He's part of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party Saturday and Sunday at Madison Square Park. More than 120,000 New Yorkers queue up for 'cue.
The party offers a taste of America's barbecue from more than a dozen of the country's top pitmasters. Among others, they hail from Texas, the Carolinas, New York, Memphis, Boston, Decatur, Ala., and of course, Yazoo City.
Roark's 3,500 pounds of pulled pork and 1,500 pounds of cole slaw will convert scores to Mississippi barbecue. As Roark says, "We cook some hawg."
Third time may be a charm in some circles but to hear tell, that first trip to the festival had some kind of halo on it.
At the cooks' meeting that night at Blue Smoke in New York, during the team introductions Roark shared his first impressions, too: "I come from a town that doesn't have but 13,000 people in it. And I said, I saw more cars than that on the way in this morning."
He told a reporter the next day and that and a picture in his signature straw hat went into papers across the country, including this one.
There was no shortage of support from the "home team" either. The first one in line for barbecue was a boy from Yazoo City. Folks in line would holler out "I'm from Wesson" and "I'm from Vicksburg," Roark's daughter, Leslie Roark Scott said.
"The first year we went, we felt like we were rock stars," Scott said. The glow followed them to dinner at a restaurant in Greenwich Village where they were so wrapped up in their own cool quotient it wasn't until the entree they noticed Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker at the next table.
PLACE AN ORDER
"You know, in your hometown, you're not treated like a celebrity. You're just an ol' boy from around the corner," Roark said.
"Go to New York," Scott said, "and they're asking for Dad's autograph."
Not only that. If traveling in the area, say within 50 or 100 miles, they've detoured to Yazoo City to say hi. And place an order, of course.
Photo of Garry at the Big Apple Block Party courtesy of Gothamist.