Josh was hired as a dishwasher at Sonny’s over 30 years ago. Now, he’s a franchisee and one of the Pitmasters behind our famous BBQ Egg Roll. Learn more about Josh’s story, the lessons learned throughout his Sonny’s journey and the parallels between a successful barbecuer and a successful fisherman.
Where did you get your start in BBQ?
I was 18 years old, and I was done with the restaurant business. I didn’t think it was a good fit for me. Then, on a whim I walked into Sonny’s BBQ in Lake City, FL in 1990. I was hired that same day and never looked back.
I felt like I was working somewhere where not only did people care about each other, but managers cared about people, treated people well, and had high expectations of others.
I just remember looking around one day and saying, “You know what? I think I want to try this for a while.”
What’s your earliest BBQ memory?
I found my passion for BBQ at Sonny’s. One of my earliest memories about BBQ was the smell as you approached the building. I remember how much I liked the smell of the smoke, especially when it was cooler outside.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who hopes to one day become a Pitmaster?
The best advice I could give someone is to practice, practice and more practice.
- Go to BBQ classes. These Pitmasters have been doing it for years and you get the opportunity of learning from their successes.
- Learn everything you can about smoke, wood types, fire, seasonings and sauces. All of these things can greatly impact the flavor of the meat, and often what works with one type of meat doesn’t work on others.
- Understand all types of smokers and how they cook because smokers can be affected by weather. This can have a huge effect on the smoke and how much wood you’ll use.
- Learn the different cuts of meat and understand how to cook each of them.
- Try to compete professionally. See how your BBQ stacks up against others. Meet other Pitmasters while you’re there, you can learn a lot from them.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
As a Pitmaster, it is extremely rewarding seeing people enjoy something you’ve been working on for hours. Or seeing people enjoy a new recipe or technique that you’ve been working on for days, weeks and sometimes years. There is no better feeling.
Who have been some of the biggest influences on your BBQ career?
Chip Dixon, Brandon Manly, and Mike Mills.
When did you discover fishing and what do you typically fish for?
I have been fishing on and off for about 25 years, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I got much more serious about it and started fishing regularly.
I enjoy all inshore species, but my favorites are Red Fish and Snook.
If you want to get to know Josh a little more, check out his story on YouTube from his spotlight on Tales From The Pit.