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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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Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell made his reputation cooking whole hog barbecue in his hometown of Wilson, NC. As a boy, he attended pig pickin’s on his grandparent’s farm, but he came to the business of barbecue fairly late. Ed attended college, served in Vietnam, and worked for Ford Motor Company. When his father became ill, Ed moved back to Wilson to help his mother run the family store, Mitchell’s Groceries.

In 1990, Mrs. Mitchell wanted some old-fashioned barbecue, so Ed cooked a pig behind the grocery. Two years later, Ed converted the store into a barbecue stand. He cooked whole hogs and country-style sides, and he offered what he called a “pig bar,” where customers could eat their fill of chitlins, feet, and snouts. As Ed’s business grew, so did his commitment to tradition and quality. In 2003, in an effort to reclaim a taste of the past, he began cooking free-range organic pigs. In 2005, he ran into business trouble and closed his restaurant. But Ed Mitchell didn’t stop cooking. He catered special events and began exploring other opportunities. In 2007, Ed formed a partnership with a real estate developer and opened The Pit, a white-tablecloth barbecue restaurant in Raleigh. Ed left The Pit in May 2011 to pursue another restaurant venture on his own, Ed Mitchell’s Cue with his son Ryan, which opened in 2014.

Date of interview:
2007-09-05 00:00

Amy Evans

Amy Evans, Ellen Shapiro and Jason Perlow

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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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