Rodney Scott’s BBQ opened its doors in Avondale on February 20. When Bham Now first learned barbecue master Rodney Scott planned to expand his Charleston, South Carolina-based flagship to Birmingham, we reached out.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ means two things for Birmingham. First, we have another award-winning chef in our midst—Scott owns the title of James Beard Best Chef of the Southeast 2018. Next, it’s the second “whole hog” barbecue joint to open in town in less than four months. (Martin’s BBQ in Cahaba Heights was the first to bring whole hog-style ‘cue to the ‘Ham.)
On day two, Bham Now photographer Jacob Blankenship was on site to try the Pulled Pork Plate. Meanwhile I took home a pound of Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, which I put on everything from sandwiches and quesadillas to salads.
- The verdict: we are ultra happy to welcome this new tasty barbecue option, with its lip-puckering vinegar-based sauce, to Birmingham. The more the merrier.
- Pro tip: if you like fried pork skins, ditch the vending machine swag and opt for a bag of fresh ones from Rodney Scott’s BBQ.
Here’s what Scott had to say about expanding here when we interviewed him in August 2018.
The Bham Now Interview with Rodney Scott
Bham Now: What do you like about whole hog barbecue versus other barbecue?
Rodney Scott: “Whole hog barbecue has bits and pieces of everything. So you have that tender, moist belly meat. You have that dryness of a ham mixed in with the shoulder, which is sort of in between. So it’s a little bit of everything in one sandwich.”
Bham Now: We understand you are sourcing your hogs locally for your Birmingham location. Tell us more.
Rodney Scott: “I met most of my Alabama farmers through my partner Nick (Nick Pihakis, of Birmingham’s Pihakis Restaurant Group). I had the pleasure of cooking several of their hogs in the past, and I liked the way that they turned out. Being that I was moving down there, I said, hey, why not cook these guys’ hogs.”
Bham Now: How do you plan to split your time between Charleston and Birmingham and train pit masters here?
Rodney Scott: “I’m going to split my time very patiently. (Laughter.) I plan to come to Birmingham and help train, as well as fly some people in to Charleston for training. It’s an ongoing process, and it may even mean some of my guys here (in Charleston) help train down there (in Birmingham).”
Bham Now: Tell us about the sauce.
Rodney Scott: “Right now we have two different sauces. My original sauce, called Rodney Sauce, uses white vinegar, cayenne pepper and black pepper. The second is called The Other Sauce. It has apple cider vinegar with ketchup and black pepper. That one is a little thicker.”
Bham Now: How has your menu expanded since you first opened your Charleston location?
Rodney Scott: “We definitely have expanded the menu a little bit. We wanted to give people the option of having a salad, the option of wings and turkey. And it’s been a great decision. We’ve had everyone from barbecue judges to local celebrities come in and eat and say they enjoy the turkey or the wings.”
Bham Now: We’re fascinated by the cinder block cookhouse that’s a signature of your restaurant. Is building it an exact science, or are you always tweaking it with each new one you build?
Rodney Scott: “There are constant adjustments and notes that we take along the way to see what we could have done better. We’re trying to keep these rooms as efficient as possible as far as keeping them cool. It’s an ever-learning process.”
Bham Now: Why did you choose the location in Avondale?
Rodney Scott: “Several reasons. First of all, I like Birmingham. Two, it seems like it’s right smack dab in the middle everything. I rode around the area and looked at the building. When it became available, I said absolutely, why not.”
Bham Now: Since Nick Pihakis of Pihakis Restaurant Group helped you launch the first Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, was it always the plan to come to Birmingham?
Rodney Scott: “It was always the plan to open more than one. Location was the question mark. I’ve visited Birmingham so many times and I feel like it’s one of the go-to cities. The opportunity came about, so we made that our next choice. But we’ve always wanted to do several locations if not 40.”
On Winning a James Beard Award
Bham Now: Has your life changed dramatically since you got the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast?
Rodney Scott: “My life has definitely changed. It’s been a lot of congratulatory phone calls, a lot of opportunities to visit other people that you wouldn’t think would invite you over to their events. It’s a great feeling.”
Find Rodney Scott’s BBQ at 3719 3rd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222.