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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Curt Blankenship

Trained by some of the great pitmasters on the Lexington whole hog scene, Curt Blankenship is a young smoked meat specialist on the make. He grew up on a farm not far from the site of his restaurant, where every July 4th family and friends would gather for a whole hog feast. His grandmother would make the extra-hot sauce.

Curt bought the Smoke House from Dennis Hays in the spring of 2007. With the purchase, he inherited one of the most extraordinary whole-hog smokers in barbecuedom. Built from the shell of gas-station fuel tank, this smoker operates as a rotisserie within a massive drum. Its immensity allows him to cook a whopping fifteen whole hogs at once.

We first visited this location in 2003, when it was known as Hays Smoke House, as part of our initial foray into documenting rural Tennessee ‘cue. Visit the original Hays Smoke House page.


Date of interview:
2008-07-23 00:00

Rien T. Fertel

Rien T. Fertel

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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