"MEAT" the Pitmaster: Jeremy Jordan - Downtown Nashville, TN
We're kicking off a new series of posts to introduce y'all to the many talented pitmasters that help us spread the gospel of WHOLE HOG BAR-B-QUE. We're starting with one of our newest pitmasters Jeremy Jordan. You can find him working away in Downtown Nashville and learn a little more about the process of what he - and all our pitmasters - do each day.
Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from a little town outside Knoxville. No kidding, it’s called Coalfield, TN. It’s about 45 minutes from everywhere.
What brought you to Nashville?
I needed to get out of that town. I was going through recovery and the recovery scene is big here in Nashville.
How long have you been working at Martin’s?
I started helping with building out the restaurant last June. I thought I would be coming over to help unpack equipment and stuff but was doing all kinds of stuff helping to get it ready. Pat saw me working one day and I guess noticed that I’m a hard worker and asked me to be on the Pit Team.
How long have you been training as a Pitmaster?
My training started in August. I had never thought about being a pitmaster before. I had just been a line cook at Hooters where it’s high volume and fast-paced. It’s definitely different from being a pitmaster. The best training I got was when me, Pat, Coleman and Kizer went to New York for Pig Beach. We went and built a cinder block pit and cooked whole hogs on site. Getting to sit with Pat for 3 days when all the attention was on the hogs and seeing how he treated the process was the best training you can get.
What’s the biggest surprise to people who don’t know about working the pits at Martin’s?
It’s funny. People don’t know how big the pigs really are and how long it takes. They just don’t believe there’s a whole pig in there! We’ve been getting a decent variety of hogs but they’re averaging about 180 pounds.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Pitmaster at Martin’s?
I love coming in here the next day after spending 10, 12 or even 13 hours with a hog and getting to pull it and see what your labor is really worth. But, honestly it’s also just getting to stand right here and talk to people from Australia, Canada and all over the world -- places where they can’t get BBQ like this. It’s a really gratifying feeling knowing you cooked the BBQ they love.
What’s a normal day like for a Pitmaster?
Generally I’m here from 10am to 8pm or 10 to 10, typically 12 hours. A lot of times if I know we’re gonna be busy, I’ll be here at 8 or 9 in the morning because tt’s a constant rotation of meat. We’re not just in charge of the whole hogs but we also monitor the ribs, chicken, wings and brisket. We have four whole hog pits upstairs and four smokers downstairs. If I know 100% that I have all my stuff on point and can leave it without looking at it for 30 minutes, I’ll go help run food. There is a certain point in the day after all the loads come out and before you start your afternoon loads for the next morning that you have a little span of “free” time. But that’s when we’re cleaning something, like having to clean out the pits. It takes about an hour and half to get the pit good and clean. We actually pull the pork right here in the pits, so you can imagine how it gets in here. One of us will get a pan and pull it off the bones and take it straight to kitchen.
If you could tell people anything about being a pitmaster here at Martin’s what would you say?
I’d tell them about the amount of labor that goes into a hog that, you know, will only yield so much product. There’s definitely got to be a passion for that. And for Pat to not sacrifice the quality of his stuff and let us take care of the meat and be here for that time. Not just let it be free and be here cooking by itself. That labor intensity. I like it when people ask and I tell them “yeah, there is someone here 24 hours a day - literally.” We have three shifts and someone is always here so we’re overlapping. There’s always somebody watching the pits.