Q & A with Bludso's BBQ Kevin Bludso, Part 2: Old Hickories, Business, and Barbecue Alley
When we left Part 1 of our interview with Kevin Bludso, he had been talking about barbecue tours, the merit (gasp) of food blogs, and how his 90 year-old granny is still drinking Hennessy, and still working the pit.
J.H. Starr Kevin Bludso and his pit
For Part 2, the man behind Bludso's BBQ in Compton talks a little about the history of barbecue in Los Angeles, what it takes to train a pitmaster, and the business of the restaurant business. We were also given some off-the-record information about a new menu item coming our way soon. We don't reveal what it is, but we do reveal how he managed to steal the recipe from his aunt. Turn the page.
SI: You only know your own barbecue...
KB: Yeah! So because of the Internet, it's a new age now. It's different. What I just try to tell people too is, they say, "L.A. don't have no good barbecue, this and that." You know what? L.A. does have some good barbecue places. People say, "what's L.A. known for?" But what I tell people is that back in the 50s and 60s, when blacks were migrating here from the South, they were bringing barbecue here. L.A. had just as good of barbecue as Kansas City or Memphis, back in the 70s. Woody's, Gadberry's, Mr. Jim's. They had a lot of barbecue places in L.A. that were -- you know what I mean. Now they say there's no whatever because, of course, Gates and all those big time places.
But L.A. had just as good of barbecue back in the day. In fact, Broadway and all that, it was like six or seven different places. I think they used to call that Barbecue Alley or something back in the day. There were all kinds of different barbecue stands, and I knew them all, because my dad is from Texas, my mom is from Texas, but they came out here and went to high school. And then my dad was the L.A.P.D., so he knew all the spots. So we went to a place in Watts called Smitty's, on Wilmington, that was legendary. But they just didn't keep on going. But even as a kid, I would love to go to barbecue shacks. I loved it. And when I went to Texas this last time, I said I'm gonna get some barbecue, I'm just gonna work my way down. I ate at like nine different barbecue places. Just to try it out.
KB: Just from my Auntie.
[Here, Kevin Bludso talks about a new menu item, but tells us to keep it off the record until he's ready to make it public.]
KB:So I just kept feeding her Hennessey, some Cognac. By the time she got buzzed, she gave me the whole recipe.
SI: Has it been weird having people suddenly down here taking pictures of your food?
KB: You know what? It is, but the way I look at barbecue, a lot of people are still looking at barbecue as a picnic. I met some of the nicest people ever. So I'm used to it now. We've done Kanye West, we've done and all types of celebrity things. And they want to take pictures with you! I'm like, damn! You know, they're our groupies like we're their groupies. It's cool.