After two decades of smoking pork for the people of Holly Hill, South Carolina, Harold “Bub” Sweatman built his eponymous brick-and-mortar pits in 1977. Out of an old farmhouse, Sweatman’s serves oak and hickory-smoked whole-hog barbecue, dashed with the spicy-sweet mustard sauce (a now widespread South Carolina condiment that the Sweatman clan most probably had a hand in creating), Friday and Saturday only.
Douglas Oliver, who grew up on a farm down the road, started working at Sweatman’s not long after it opened. Hired as a meat-cutter, Oliver trained under legendary pitmaster Chalmon Smalls, a genius of a cook who could tell the doneness of a hog just by sniffing the air.
This interview with Oliver was taped on a late Thursday evening, when the pit veteran works from mid-afternoon until just after sunrise. Between firing the hogs with shovelfuls of hardwood embers every thirty-five minutes, he enjoys the night’s bucolic silence. “This is what I like,” Oliver reflects, “Quiet.”