Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Celebrated Pitmaster Rodney Scott Lifts the Lid on his Life with The Manual

Chef Rodney Scott is a barbecue pitmaster, James Beard Award winner and owner of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, one of America’s most famous barbecue restaurants. However, writing a cookbook was a project he never intended to tackle.

“I was a little hesitant because I knew a book wasn’t an overnight thing,” Chef Scott tells The Manual. “Two, I didn’t know what I would put in a book or how I would write it. Whether it’ll be a 100% percent cookbook or a short book, I just didn’t know if I had enough to talk about or if my life was interesting enough.”


In reality, Chef Scott possesses a wealth of knowledge on the art of American barbecue. At the age of eleven, Chef Scott began his barbecue journey at his family’s barbecue restaurant in Hemingway, South Carolina. By the time he was seventeen, barbecue had become his full-time career. Now, decades later, Chef Scott is one of the most prominent figures in American barbecue with countless media appearances. He has starred alongside Anthony Bourdain in Parts Unknown and was also a guest on Top Chef. In 2020, he was profiled on an episode of Chef’s Table: BBQ, showcasing his style of South Carolina whole hog barbecue.

Related Guides

Its this lifelong journey of experiences that’s showcased in his new cookbook:

Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day: A Cookbook

. Amazingly, Chef Scott’s book is the first barbecue cookbook ever written by a black pitmaster. For Chef Scott, the news was surprising. “I think a lot of black pitmasters just haven’t gotten around to writing a book yet. And I don’t know many guys that would be willing to even write a book,” said Chef Scott. “At least at the moment. Right now, I guess everybody is still trying to gather their resources.”

As a pitmaster from South Carolina, Chef Scott is a proud advocate of the state’s regional style of barbecue — slow-cooked whole hog. Its an incredibly complex process — an average whole hog takes about 12 hours to cook fully. A laborious and technique-driven affair, it takes about one year of continuous practice before a barbecue cook becomes competent enough to handle a whole hog. But that’s only the beginning according to Chef Scott. Small details like variations in the weather, temperature, and wood can drastically alter how a hog is cooked. Even for Chef Scott, who can walk up to a pit and “smell what stage of the cooking process is at,” whole hog remains a constant and lifelong pursuit of perfection.


But the cookbook is also filled with unique recipes outside the realm of whole hog. Every recipe in the cookbook is directly related to an aspect of Chef Scott’s life and cooking journey. “This is more of my world, my existence, my life, in chapters,” said Chef Scott. “This is my transformation from childhood all the way to current day.” One of these innovative recipes is the honey butter catfish, a dish created entirely by accident. On a seemingly average day, Chef Scott was in his restaurant during lunchtime. He was hungry but unsure of what to make. A cook next to him had a suggestion —  catfish. Inspired, Chef Scott took the catfish, added some rib rub, honey butter and wrapped it in foil before placing it in the barbecue. The result amazed him. “It was a great combination. And it was fish,” said Chef Scott. “That was one of my favorites that went in there (cookbook). You never how you’ll be sitting around and just throw something together. Who knew I’d even share it?”

The inclusion of catfish in a barbecue cookbook is unique because fish is not commonly smoked for American barbecue. But this creative understanding of barbecue is evident in the cookbook. Chef Scott is not a strict traditionalist when it comes to barbecue regionality. Even his specialty, whole hog barbecue, is something he believes can be reproduced outside of South Carolina.

“I do absolutely believe that you can reproduce this flavor elsewhere,” said Chef Scott. “I’ve done it. I’ve experienced it myself personally. I’ve done whole hog in different countries. I’ve done whole hog in California, Texas, New York, Tennessee. And I say that to say that the same flavor you get in Charleston, I tasted that same flavor while we were on the road.”


For Chef Scott, barbecue is a universal language, a common denominator that transcends borders and language. People from all over the world can understand and enjoy food cooked over fire. It’s this all-embracing aspect of barbecue that leads him to believe that American barbecue has yet to reach its peak. “The future of American barbecue is going to be more appreciated, so much more recognized,” said Chef Scott. “Your going to be able to walk down the street and see fine dining on this block and right down the same block, there’ll be barbecue as well.”

At its core, Chef Scott’s new cookbook is a way to present his world, his understanding of barbecue’s universal language and to showcase the countless people he encountered as a pitmaster. “Which is why we titled it ‘Rodney’s Scott’s World.'” said Chef Scott. “This was my world. This is not saying that your barbecue is wrong. This is my eyes through the world of barbecue. Here’s what I think, and here’s what I believe.”

Read more: Best Cookbooks by Black Chefs

Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
Get ready for party season with these batched summer margaritas
Coconut margaritas and prickly pear margaritas for a crowd
batched margarita recipes dsc03954 1

When you're preparing drinks for a crowd, batching cocktails is always a great idea. While it's great fun to make customized drinks for each of your guests, and that's something you can and should attempt for smaller gatherings, with a larger group you won't have time to individually mix drinks for each person. I find that it's fun to make individual drinks for groups of five or six, but more than that becomes difficult and has you running around the kitchen all night.

Instead, make your life easier by preparing a large amount of one or two cocktails ahead of time. You can mix up a big batch of drink and leave it in your fridge, then add ice when your guests arrive and garnish each drink as you serve it. That way, people still get the special feeling of a delicious cocktail but you won't be quite so frantic while trying to host.

Read more
A pair of regenerative whiskies to promote sustainable farming
WhistlePig and Brother's Bond are teaming up with this pair of American whiskies
regenerative whiskies whistlepig brothers bond bb wp bundle 6 scaled jpg

Beloved whiskey brand WhistlePig is known for its interest in farm to bottle production, with a focus on farming practices similar to what you'll find in many high-end restaurants. Now, the brand is teaming up with bourbon manufacturer Brother’s Bond to promote sustainable farming with each company releasing its own farm-based expression.

WhistlePig is debuting its new annual release of its FarmStock Beyond Bonded Rye Whiskey, and Brother’s Bond is releasing a Regenerative Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The two brands will be donating a portion of sales from each bottle to Regenerate America, a regenerative agriculture coalition which aims to promote sustainable farming and health soil.

Read more
4 simple gin cocktails anyone can make (that taste delicious)
Everyone can make these gin-based cocktails
gin cocktail


While we mix with any spirit during the warmer months (we live a good whiskey Highball), we tend to gravitate towards un-aged spirits like blanco tequila, vodka, white rum, and gin. The latter just might be our favorite spirit to mix with between June and September for a variety of reasons.

Read more