Preserve the Pit™ Preserve the Pit™

Kingsford remains committed to celebrating Black barbecue culture by launching the second year of Preserve the Pit and doubling the investment in aspiring barbecue professionals.

The Black community ignited American barbecue more than 350 years ago, but without the spark of a new generation at the pit, important stories, recipes and techniques risk being extinguished. Barbecue goes beyond just food, it’s a culture. It’s been the backdrop to some of the most important moments in Black history and at the center of countless family, friend and civic gatherings.

As a leader in barbecue for more than 100 years, Kingsford is committed to preserving the culture and history of Black barbecue in America and investing in its future. Kingsford’s Preserve the Pit aims to redirect the spotlight on the people and stories that have made barbecue what it is today, while also supporting barbecue entrepreneurs through an immersive fellowship.


The Preserve the Pit Fellowship

For the second year of the fellowship, Kingsford doubled its commitment by selecting six aspiring barbecue professionals as Preserve the Pit fellows for immersive training and one-on-one mentorship with dedicated industry leaders throughout 2022. Participants in the fellowship can expect to…

  • Learn necessary skills with hands-on and immersive industry training

  • Help from a network of advisors and other business resources

  • Create lasting relationships with key leaders and experts in the industry

  • Have the chance to receive capital investment to kick-start their business

Meet The Mentors

Amy Mills, Owner

17th Street Barbecue | Murphysboro, IL

Amy Mills, owner of 17th Street Barbecue, is the industry's go-to girl for all things barbecue. She also owns OnCue Consulting, the only barbecue business consultancy in the world, offering seminars and training in the culinary techniques behind great barbecue. Amy is a featured judge on various barbecue shows and her family’s second book, Praise the Lard, was published in May 2017.

Bryan Furman, Pitmaster/Chef & Owner

Bryan Furman BBQ | Atlanta, GA

An award-winning Pitmaster, Bryan Furman is opening his new restaurant, Bryan Furman BBQ, which has been named one of the 12 most anticipated restaurants in Atlanta opening in 2022 by Eater ATL. He is former pitmaster of renowned B's Cracklin’ Barbecue, which succumbed to a tragic fire in 2019. Bryan has continued to showcase his skills all over the world, including as Chef in Residence for Stone Barns Center in NYC and featured international Pitmaster for Meatopia in the UK.

Devita Davison, Executive Director

FoodLab Detroit. | Detroit, MI

Devita Davison is the executive director of FoodLab, a nonprofit organization that fosters the creation of an equitable local food economy by providing food entrepreneurs with education, peer-to-peer mentoring, and access to market opportunities. Her overall goal is to create a food economy that acknowledges the importance of food justice, community health, local ownership, and sustainability.

Kevin Bludso, Chef, TV Personality, & Owner

Bludso’s BBQ, Bludso’s Bar & Que | Los Angeles, CA

Kevin Bludso is a chef and TV personality. In ‘08, he opened Bludso’s BBQ, his small takeout BBQ stand in Compton, CA. It has since grown into an empire, with locations in Hollywood and Melbourne, Australia. He has made multiple TV appearances on top food and cooking shows, most recently on Netflix’s The American BBQ Showdown. His first cookbook, The Bludso Family Cookbook: BBQ Soul Food and Family, From Compton to Corsicana, is coming out March 29, 2022 for Ten Speed Press. 

Rashad Jones, Pitmaster & Owner

Big Lee’s BBQ food truck | Ocala, FL

Rashad Jones started Big Lee’s food truck as a hobby after he was inspired by his wife’s uncle, Leon Archie, and his special blend of barbecue and hospitality at his wife’s family home. Since then, he has earned many accolades and has shared his inspiring story with local and national publications and news outlets. He is most proud of his commitment to delivering high-quality products and services to his customers.

Pat Neely, Chef & Owner

Neely’s BBQ | Atlanta, GA

Pat Neely joined the BBQ world when he started working at his uncle’s BBQ business. By 23, he opened his first restaurant, Neely’s BBQ, which grew to 5 locations, and was named the Best BBQ in Memphis. He was named Restaurateur of the Year, later becoming one of America’s favorite celebrity chefs with Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys and Road Tasted with Neely’s. He is a respected cookbook author with numerous New York Times best-sellers.

Dr. Howard Conyers, Pitmaster & Storyteller


Dr. Howard Conyers is a pitmaster and educator on the history of Southern barbecue, as well as a rocket scientist. He hosts whole hog barbecue events, like Gumbo Jubilee, to speak about racism and social justice through food, agriculture, history, and capitalism. His work has been featured in various news outlets and he currently has books underway that focus on the significant role of African Americans in barbecue.

Meet the Fellows

Joseph and Laura Payne

JP’s Que | Memphis, TN

As the founders of JP’s Que, Joseph and Laura Payne bring their twist to condiments. By combining flavors from their Black and Mexican heritage, their goal is to inspire people to become masters in their kitchens. Joseph grew up watching and learning from his mother in the kitchen. Likewise, Laura applies the knowledge she gained from the generations of Mexican women around her. Together, they've combined their skills and love of food and BBQ to their consumers.

Cameron Brooks

Owner, Brooks BBQ and Chicken | Fort Wayne, IN

Cameron Brooks is a fourth generation BBQ business owner, operating his catering business, Brooks BBQ and Chicken. Established by Brooks’ great-grandmother in 1966, Brooks BBQ and Chicken was the first Black-owned barbecue restaurant in Fort Wayne, IN. He has rebranded the business and is currently running a food truck and acquired a brick-and-mortar in the Union Street Market at Electric Works that they will be moving into in the fall.

Rashida Marshall

Owner, Soul-Pit / RaRa’s Home Cooking and Catering | Stone Mountain, GA

Rashida is the owner and operator of Soul-Pit aka RaRa’s Home Cooking and Catering, established in 2020. Supported by her husband, who is the grill master, and their four children, Rashida looks forward to providing her Atlanta community with the best home cooking and BBQ each and every day. At Soul-Pit, the family takes pride in their homemade food and cook from the “soul”.

Terrance Nicholson

Owner, Zilla’s Pit BBQ | Brownsville, TN

Terrance Nicholson is a Nashville-raised barbecue pitmaster. He entered his first competition in 2014, won the pork rib contest and hasn’t looked back since. As he continued to compete, people would taste his food and ask where they could purchase it themselves. The seed was then planted to start his own catering business, which turned into a food trailer, Zilla’s Pit BBQ. Terrance is passionate about bringing the traditions of his hometown of Brownsville, TN to the masses.

Donnell Crear

Owner, Sunbelt Packaging Company | Atlanta, GA

Based just outside of Atlanta, Donnell is the owner/operator of Sunbelt Packaging Company, an artisan foods co-packaging company. They specialize in small batch production of sauces, dressings, marinades, dry mixes, and seasonings for other small businesses throughout the Southeast. He holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University.

Marvin C. Ross

Owner, Peculiar Pig Farm LLC | Summerville, SC

Marvin has been farming since around the age of 10 years old alongside his grandfather, when he first showed a passion for pigs and other farm animals. Currently, he is the owner of Peculiar Pig Farm LLC with clients across the barbecue belt states. Most recently, Marvin was filmed for a Discovery Channel documentary and featured at the 2022 Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Marvin is married, resides in Summerville, SC and has 3 children.




As the head chef and owner of My Father’s Barbeque, Shalamar brings southern hospitality to California by using delicious barbecue as a way to bring people together. As a result of the mentorship, she hopes to improve her management skills to further her business’ success and continue to teach her employees and community about the history of barbecue.



Owners of Daddy Pete’s BBQ since 2012, Cory and Tarra Davis have a passion for barbecue that they share with their friends, family and community. Through the fellowship, their goal is to build a stronger foundation for their business operations to ensure their restaurant continues to successfully operate beyond their generation.



Ronald and his family own Master Blend Family Farms, LLC, which provides whole hogs and premium pork products to restaurants and private owned businesses in his community. They’ve hosted farm tours in collaboration with several local schools and hope to transition one of the farms, which has been in the family for over a century, into a farm school and develop a whole hog barbecue station to share their heritage of barbecue and create a path of opportunity for future generations.


  • As a barbecue leader for more than 100 years, Kingsford is committed to preserving the trailblazing culture and history of Black barbecue in America and investing in its future. Kingsford’s Preserve the Pit aims to shine a light on the people and stories that have made barbecue what it is today, while also supporting barbecue entrepreneurs through an immersive fellowship.

  • Kingsford’s Preserve the Pit Fellowship will give a group of aspiring barbecue professionals interested in preserving the tradition of Black barbecue culture an exclusive opportunity for immersive training and one-on-one mentorship with dedicated industry leaders throughout 2022. Participants in the fellowship can also expect to:
    • Learn necessary skills with hands-on and immersive industry training
    • Help from a network of advisors and other business resources
    • Create lasting relationships with key leaders and experts in the industry
    • Receive capital investment to kick-start their business

  • To apply, you must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and a resident of the United States. If selected, you must be willing to participate in the program on an ongoing basis from April through September 2022.

  • Not necessarily. At Kingsford, we know that barbecue is about more than just the food – it brings people together and helps build communities. Whether you want to turn your side-hustle into a full-time job or already have a business started but are unsure where to go next, we are looking for applicants who are inspired by barbecue and committed to contributing to the legacy of the Black barbecue community. Each of our mentors have diverse backgrounds and experience that lends to having a pool of fellows with differing aspirations.

  • Those interested in the fellowship are invited to review the eligibility requirements and apply now through March 1, 2022. No purchase is necessary to apply or participate. Additionally, applicants may submit a video (minimum one minute in length) through the website that explains why they should be considered for the fellowship and addresses one or more of the questions in the online application. Submission of a video is optional but must be consistent with the Submission Guidelines noted in the Application Terms. The application window is now closed.

  • After the conclusion of the submission period on March 1, submissions will be reviewed by Kingsford and the Preserve the Pit Mentor Network based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, interest in the program, connection to barbecue, contributions to the legacy of the Black barbecue community and commitments to fueling its future. Selected participants will be notified by phone or email on or before March 31, 2022, and will be announced in April 2022.

  • The fellowship will begin in April 2022 and conclude in September 2022. During this time, each participant will have the opportunity to learn skills from designated mentors and receive assistance in creating a business plan via virtual or phone meetings with mentors at least once a month. Pending travel restrictions an in-person immersion session may be conducted, with travel and accommodation provided by Kingsford. Outside of these requirements, the time commitment is at the discretion of the participant. However, to get the most out of the program, we recommend devoting as much time as your schedule allows.

  • Kingsford thoughtfully selected six mentors with deep and diverse experience in the barbecue industry to make up the Mentor Network. All the individuals in this group are committed to the mission of Preserve the Pit, as well as the time investment needed for a successful mentor relationship. If you are interested in becoming a Mentor in the future, please reach out to

  • Throughout the duration of the fellowship, participants will be asked to develop a business plan that will be shared with Kingsford and its partners near the end of the program in September 2022. Upon review of the business plan, Kingsford and the Mentor Network will award grants based on individual business objectives.

  • We are pleased to be bring back Preserve the Pit for a second year and hope to continue expanding and enhancing it on an annual basis.

  • The program is administered by Kingsford, a Clorox company.

  • We look forward to speaking with you. Please send a note to for more information.

  • Please reach out to or visit our Media Kit for more information.

Media Kit

If you are a member of the press looking for more information, please check out the materials below or reach out to

Questions? Contact us at

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