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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.

ORAL HISTORY

Adam Itayem


Adam Itayem is a Jerusalem-born, Palestinian-American cooking barbecue in Memphis. His restaurant proves how pervasive the city’s smoked meat foodways are; Memphis barbecue incorporates all cultures.

Founded by Greek immigrant Tom Sturgis, Tom’s barbecue rub embodied his heritage, by including: oregano, thyme, basil, nutmeg, and cinnamon. All of the pork and beef Itayem serves is marinated in this same spice rub for at least twenty-four hours.

Tom’s barbecue—including the famous rib tips—is still smoked on a closely watched open pit over hickory wood and charcoal. Itayem isn’t shy to say that this is the only way to get that “human touch.”

Date of interview:
2008-07-20 00:00

Interviewer:
Rien T. Fertel

Photographer:
Rien T. Fertel

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