Byron Jordan, the owner of Smokey Mountain Barbecue, has earned a place on the N.C. Barbecue Association’s Wall of Fame for his excellent barbecue sauce.
“I am tremendously honored they would even consider us,” said Jordan.
“Those are names (on the Wall of Fame) I’ve heard over the years as the barbecue place to go. Those are generations old, and more established with what they do,” said Jordan.
“To be included on the Wall of Fame, the inductee must have made major contributions of time/talents and services that promoted North Carolina barbecue and contributed to our rich barbecue heritage,” read the N.C. Barbecue Society’s website.
Jim Early, the founder of the N.C. Barbecue Society, recommended Jordan to join the Wall of Fame after reviewing Smokey Mountain Barbecue in his book titled “The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy.” The book included reviews of 240 barbecue restaurants in North Carolina.
“Barbecue is a noun. It’s not just about how you cook the meat,” said Jordan, “there is also a cultural component that goes in to what people call barbecue.”
Jordan explained how his barbecue sauce relates to other sauces used in North Carolina.
Jordan said there is a noticeable difference between the barbecue found in eastern North Carolina and the barbecue found in the western part of the state. The biggest difference, said Jordan, is the sauce.
Eastern style barbecue sauce is more vinegar-based, while western style barbecue sauce is tomato-based. Lexington-style sauce, which is a mixture of both eastern and western styles, is the closest match to the sauce used by Jordan.
“When people come in and ask about what style of sauce we use, I tell them it’s our own,” said Jordan. He cited this uniqueness as a reason for his sauce’s success.
Another reason for Jordan’s success is a Chaple Hill man named Raymond Bedsoul, who Jordan said taught him the basics of the barbecue business, including some recipes.
Jordan grew up in Lexington, an area known for its barbecue. After marrying his wife Nancy in Raleigh, the couple started visiting Ashe County for a few years, and after each visit, the couple found it harder and harder to leave.
Eventually, Byron and Nancy decided to move to Ashe.
“We were trying to look at what we can do to add to the community,” said Jordan. The couple eventually realized there were no barbecue restaurants in the area, which they found surprising.
After a while of deliberation, the couple opened Smokey Mountain BBQ in a small cabin between Jefferson and West Jefferson, before upgrading to their current building.
“We really have been blessed and fortunate,” said Jordan.
Along with Smokey Mountain Barbecue, Jordan also operates AB Vannoy Ham Company.