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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

< Back to Oral History project: Tennessee BBQ


Liz & Ike Kinchen, Troy Smith

Whole hog barbecue is disappearing in Western Tennessee because people “got lazy” according to Liz and Ike Kinchen. Both past the traditional retirement age, the Kinchen couple continue to cook four to seven hogs six days a week. These two are as loyal to the whole hog, as their customers are to them.

Liz’s Bar-B-Q is the type of place where customers often request not only a certain cut of meat (shoulder, ham, middlin’), but where the truly faithful specify the exact ribs and attached flesh: “third rib on the right” or “fourth rib on the left.”

After Liz and Ike were forced to close the restaurant back in 2003 because of Ike’s poor health, her customers would not leave her in peace. She could not shop for groceries without hearing, “There’s no barbecue in town Liz. Get back over here and cook it for us.” She obliged them just one year later.

We first visited this location in 2003, when it was known as My Three Sons Bar-B-Q as part of our initial foray into documenting rural Tennessee ‘cue. Visit the original My Three Sons Bar-B-Q page.

Date of interview:
2008-07-09 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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