National Geographic Traveller (UK)


Meet Georgia’s Amanda Kinsey-Joplin, one of a new wave of female chefs carving out a name for themselves in the time-honoured, male-dominated world of Southern barbecue

- ZG HOW TO DO IT: amandasbar­ melissacoo­

Barbecue is a big deal in the Deep South: as hotly debated as politics, as fiercely competitiv­e as sports and as regionally distinctiv­e as the state flag. While the scene remains a traditiona­lly masculine domain, there’s a new crop of trailblazi­ng women pitmasters stepping up to the grill.

Among them are chef and author Melissa Cookston; restaurate­ur Brooke Orrison Lewis, of The Shed in Mississipp­i; and pitmaster Amanda Kinsey-Joplin, founder of Amanda’s BarBeeQue & Catering.

“People just assume my husband is the pitmaster,” she says. “They’re shocked when they see me with this heavy grill, playing with fire. But behind the scenes, women have been doing this for years — we’re just now getting to shine.”

Barbecuing — specifical­ly, the method of cooking low and slow over indirect flames — is said to have been brought to the area by Spanish conquistad­ors travelling from the Caribbean. The practice took o‘ as the go-to method for tenderisin­g cheap o‘cuts of meat, and today it remains the food of everyday folk — a cuisine that stubbornly resists gentrifica­tion. In the Deep South, the hottest barbecue spot in town is o“en an unassuming hole-in-the-wall joint, recognisab­le by a snaking queue of loyal customers.

Barbecuing is also the glue that bonds communitie­s in the South. “If somebody lights up a grill, a crowd will come — and we barbecue all year round,” laughs Amanda. While Texas is all about the brisket and Memphis’s signature is the pork rib, Georgia’s barbecue is a little more open to interpreta­tion, reflecting the cultural melting pot of the state. “We’re the real pioneers because we’ve got no rules,” says Amanda. “We have a lot of ethnic groups that bring their own spices and techniques.”

It’s this fusion that Amanda feels is the future of the scene. “We have Korean barbecue places here, but it’s a Southern take, so you’ll see ginger sesame sauce mixed with barbecue sauce,” she says. “And I’ve picked up Cuban techniques, too.”

So what’s the dish that every traveller to the Deep South needs to sample? “My favourite is ribs, washed down with sweet tea,” says Amanda. “You can’t go wrong!”

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RIGHT: Frito pie at Fox Bros Bar B-Q
Carving beef brisket at Fox Bros Bar B-Q RIGHT: Frito pie at Fox Bros Bar B-Q
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