A FAMILY TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE
Known as “The Pitmaster” in barbeque circles, Ed Mitchell has been cooking traditional whole hog barbeque since he was a teenager in Wilson, North Carolina. A grandson of a small farmer, Ed was surrounded by natural, good-tasting food as a child. Thanks to a chance launch and Ed’s habit-forming Eastern North Carolina barbeque, Ed morphed his parent’s corner store, Mitchell’s Grocery, into Mitchell’s Ribs, Chicken & B-B-Q. As the business grew, so did Ed’s reputation.
Acknowledgement of Ed’s talents in the pit led to associations with influential writers and historians, including: Calvin Trillin, John T. Edge, Peter Kaminsky, and Michael Pollan. Peter Kaminsky, author of Pig Perfect, introduced Ed to the superior taste of free-ranging pigs raised on traditional foods. Ed was convinced that this was the taste of his youth he’d been searching for. He soon partnered with North Carolina A&T State University’s farm-raised pig program to encourage chefs to support naturally, forest-raised pigs.
In addition to being a founding pitmaster of the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, Ed has been invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, teach a barbeque masterclass at the 20th Annual International Food and Wine Festival in Melbourne, Australia, and headline the Churrascada Festival in Sao, Paolo Brazil. Ed has been featured on multiple TV series, including Michael Pollan’s Netflix food documentary “Cooked,” Anthony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour,” and “Beat Bobby Flay.” In 2022, Ed was inducted into the Black BBQ Hall of Fame and the National Barbecue Hall of Fame.
In 2017, Ed was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. It was a wake up call for Ed. His community and family were beset with chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes that his parents and previous generations never suffered from. Ed began to realize how much sugar had crept into their traditional dishes and barbeque over the past few decades. In 2018, to make a difference, Ed and Ryan, partnered with Abe Kamarck, as co-founders of True Made Foods, a ketchup and BBQ Sauce startup focused on delivering low and no sugar added, all natural products that preserve the flavors and traditions of our great American culinary traditions without all the sugar.
The Preserve, the next Mitchell Venture, will open in Raleigh, North Carolina in the summer of 2023. Ed's famous sauces and rubs made with zero added sugar by True Made Foods are available at Walmart, Whole Foods, Kroger, Sprouts, and right on this site.
Ryan Mitchell, Ed’s son, grew up in barbeque. He was prepping hogs and tending the coals alongside his dad, Pitmaster Ed Mitchell, for as long as he could remember. While barbeque is in his blood, growing up alongside it felt like a chore. The unrelenting work around barbeque pits initially made Ryan want to forge his own path.
Ryan earned a scholarship to play football at Eastern Carolina University and majored in Economics. After college, he spent eight years working in commercial and investment banking for some of the nation’s largest firms before the great recession in 2008 forced him to re-evaluate his professional life. After 2008’s major market crash and brutal lay-offs, Ryan felt it was time to leave his sixty hour a week desk job and return to his roots and pursue his passion.
As the keeper of the family legacy, Ryan is quick to roll up his sleeves and cook with his Dad, but spends the majority of his time managing the business and technological side of the Ed Mitchell brand. The special dynamic of this father-and-son team is the heart of Mitchell Family BBQ. Ryan credits his father, grandfather, and two uncles Aubrey and Stevie Mitchell for giving him the skills to lead the next generation of BBQ enthusiasts.