Meet the Maker: Pat Martin on Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint

When Pat Martin was growing up in Hendersonville, TN, a town of 6,500 20 miles north of Nashville, there were six different whole hog barbecue restaurants to choose from, which is where he developed his lifelong love for pit-cooked, whole hog barbecue. Any true Southern barbecue aficionado knows the term whole-hog barbecue. An entire hog cooked whole over a wood-fire pit, low and slow for hours under the careful watch of a pitmaster, whole-hog barbecue has been the staple Southern barbecue method since the 1920s. As simple as it sounds, there are several nuances when it comes to the method of cooking and enjoying the meat, but above all, the region plays the biggest role. In west Tennessee, where Pat Martin has created his barbecue empire, whole-hog barbecue uses a larger hog than its Carolinian counterparts and smokes it longer over a lower heat. Martin believes that this method produces more tender meat that falls straight off the bone.

In 2006, Martin’s love and appreciation of whole hog barbecue led him to open his first Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in a cozy 950-square foot spot in Nolensville, TN. 15 years since its inception, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint has expanded into seven locations across Tennessee as well as a spot in Charleston, SC, Birmingham, AL, and Louisville, KY, with its newest opening being in Nissan Stadium – home of the Tennessee Titans.

Despite the large growth, Martin has never sacrificed on quality and still ensures that the entire menu at every location, whether a side of a main, is scratch made daily. He’s also carried that philosophy over to his new concept called Hugh-Baby’s BBQ & Burger Shop which he opened in 2017. In another celebration of the South, Martin opened the barbecue and burger joint in the spirit of the similar joints he grew up around in western Tennessee.

Most recently, Martin has taken his talents to the publisher with his 2022 release of Life of Fire: Mastering the Arts of Pit-Cooked Barbecue, The Grill, and The Smokehouse. Much more than a cookbook, Martin’s book is a must-have procedural guide to open-fire cooking that teaches through Pat’s detailed instruction and stunning photography.

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