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Preserve the Pit™ Preserve the Pit™

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 been the backdrop of some of the most important cultural moments in Black history and at the center of many 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 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.


Meet the first class of Preserve the Pit Fellows

Cory & Tarra Davis

Grand Rapids, MI

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.

Chef Shalamar Lane

Carson, CA

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.

Ronald Simmons

Kenansville, NC

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.

Meet The Mentors

Kevin Bludso

Los Angeles, CA

Kevin Bludso is a chef and television personality. In 2008, he opened Bludso’s BBQ, his small takeout BBQ stand in Compton, California. It has since grown into an international empire, with locations in Hollywood and Melbourne, Australia. He has made multiple television appearances on top food and cooking shows, and his first cookbook, The Bludso Family Cookbook: BBQ Soul Food and Family, From Compton to Corsicana, is coming out in Spring 2022.

Rashad Jones

Ocala, FL

Rashad Jones first started Big Lee’s food truck as a hobby after he was inspired by his wife’s uncle, Leon Archie — nicknamed “Big Lee” — and his special blend of barbecue and hospitality at his wife’s family home in Greenwood, Mississippi. Since then, Rashad 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.

Bryan Furman

Atlanta, GA

Bryan Furman is an award-winning pitmaster who will be opening Bryan Furman BBQ soon in Atlanta, Georgia. Furman is the former pitmaster of the renowned B's Cracklin’ Barbecue restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, which unfortunately succumbed to a tragic fire in March 2019. He is well known for his award-winning standards including using Heritage hogs, a careful selection of woods for smoking and locally sourced, fresh Georgia-grown produce.

Devita Davison

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.

Amy Mills

Murphysboro, IL

Amy Mills is the owner of 17th Street Barbecue and is the industry's go-to girl for all things barbecue. In addition to running the restaurant, 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.

Dr. Howard Conyers

New Orleans, LA

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.


  • 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 2021. 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 2021.

  • 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, 2021. 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, 2021, and will be announced in April 2021.

  • The fellowship will begin in April 2021 and conclude in September 2021. 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 2021. Upon review of the business plan, Kingsford and the Mentor Network will award grants based on individual business objectives.

  • Kingsford is pleased to launch its first Preserve the Pit Fellowship in 2021. As with any new program, there will undoubtedly be many learnings and areas of opportunity as it progresses through its first year. The hope is to use these learnings to enhance the program and bring it back on an annual basis. Stay tuned for updates.

  • 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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