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Ayden, NC


Third generation pitmaster Sam Jones began his career in the barbecue business at an early age, helping his grandfather and uncle sell chopped pork at the famous Skylight Inn in his hometown of Ayden, NC. Sam's grandfather, the late Pete Jones, opened the legendary Skylight Inn in the summer of 1947 at age 17. Under Pete’s and Sam’s leadership, Skylight Inn has earned national praise from National Geographic, People, GQ, and many others, and has become a destination for barbecue lovers across the world. In 2003, Skylight Inn received the James Beard Award for America’s Classics, earning the distinction of being the first barbecue joint to ever receive an award from the esteemed culinary organization. In 2015, Sam partnered with longtime friend and former Skylight employee Michael Letchworth to open Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, NC. Rooted in the tradition of North Carolina whole-hog technique that Sam has known his entire life, Sam Jones BBQ also offers a variety of new spins on smoked meats. Sam plans to open a second location of the restaurant in Raleigh, NC in 2020. In 2018, Sam earned a semifinalist nod from the James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef: Southeast, and in May 2019, he published his first cookbook: Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue with Recipes from Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ (Ten Speed Press). He plans to open a second location of Sam Jones BBQ in Raleigh, NC in 2020.