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Jim Early
Founder and CEO

Jim Early is the founder of the North Carolina Barbecue Society (NCBS). Jim is also a trial lawyer and Superior Court mediator. In September 2007 he closed his law office to devote full time to NCBS. He lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jim is also the author of what many call the definitive book on North Carolina barbecue, The Best Tar Heel Barbecue Manteo to Murphy. He speaks nationally and internationally to lawyers, doctors and business personnel on ethics, professionalism, quality of life issues and stress management. Jim is an experienced hunting and fishing guide and outfitter and leads parties to venues such as Alaska, Montana, the Bahamas, Scotland, South Dakota and Africa. Jim is also a gourmet cook and has taught numerous cooking classes for local colleges, businesses, etc. and his meals run the gamut from black tie to kicked back around the campfire. Jim has written numerous cooking articles, several books and shares proceeds from his current books with Special Olympics North Carolina and Feed the Children. For more about Jim see
Debbie Bridges-Webb
VP and Board Member

Debbie Bridges-Webb is a stunning looking woman who looks as though she may have just stepped off the cover of Vogue magazine. That may have happened had Debbie not given up her modeling career at age 19 to help "Mama B" with the family business. Debbie grew up with Bridges Barbecue Lodge. She started waitressing at age 16, worked in the kitchen, prepped food, washed dishes, chopped cue, hauled wood and even fired the meat. There is no aspect of running a top flight BBQ Pit that is a stranger to Debbie Bridges Webb.

Her theory is you cannot tell someone how to do it if you can't do it yourself. With "Mama B" as a mentor Debbie honed her skills. In the years before her death, "Mama B" would come in to "check" on Debbie to see if she was doing it right. She was. Debbie has been the driving force behind Bridges Barbecue Lodge for the last 30+ years. In this time Bridges Barbecue Lodge has received numerous accolades. The Lodge has been featured in Barbecue Road Trip by Michael Karl Witzel, Gourmet Magazine, BBQ Joints by David Gelin, Road Food, Eat Your Way across the U.S.A. , and Popular Plates BBQ by Jane & Michael Stern to name a few. Bridges Barbecue has also been featured in a number of BBQ books including Holy Smoke and The Best Tar Heel Barbecue Manteo to Murphy. NCBS is pleased to have Debbie Bridges Webb, one of the First Ladies of BBQ, join our Board of Directors.

Welcome aboard Debbie.

Sam Jones
Board Member

The Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC is the trailhead of The North Carolina Barbecue Society Historic BBQ Trail. This iconic BBQ Pit traces it's roots back to the early 1800's. The Inn's Founder Pete Jones at the tender age of 7 years started cooking 'cue with his Uncle Emmit in 1935. In 1947 Pete ventured out on his own and opened a curb-service diner near the airport and called it Skylight. The rest is history. Pete became a legend and the Skylight Inn became a destination BBQ Pit.

Samuel Jones, "Sam" to his friends is the grandson of Pete Jones. Sam was weaned on a porkskin and has been working in the family business since he was a child. To say that the Jones family has remained wedded to the traditional way of cooking whole hogs over wood coals like Skilten M. Dennis (b. 1842) is like calling The Grand Canyon a ditch. Sam is now the face of the Skylight Inn and the logo on his shirt says it all - "Unchanged".

Sam Jones has risen to national acclaim as a Pit Master. Yes he has had 25+ years of training under the family umbrella with the Legend, but Sam has been cooking pigs on his own for number of years now and he does it ever so well. Sam was picked as one of the top 10 Pit Masters by Southern Living Magazine. He was chosen to be a member of Fat Collective, a group of James Beard winning chefs, writers and some of the Pit Masters in the BBQ industry. Sam recently was one of the Pit Masters at the 2013 Big Apple BBQ Block Party (NYC). And Sam is one of our NCBS faculty members and cooks the whole hog portion of our NCBS BBQ Boot Camps. Sam cooks one of the best whole hogs on the planet (any planet) and we welcome him to our Board.

Chef Clay White
Board Member

Clay Thomas White is a native to the NC Sandhill's region born and reared in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His love for preparing food grew as he spent hours in the kitchens of his mother and grandmother during his childhood. This love became a passion and he enlisted in the U.S. Army to help pay for future culinary school training. This move led to a two year deployment in Germany and also placed him on the front lines in Iraq during Operation: Desert Shield and Desert Storm, earning him multiple awards and commendations for his service.

After a four year stint in the Army, Clay married his grade-school love, Teresa and they settled in Pinehurst, NC. Clay continued to pursue his love of food by starting a small catering with menus of NC Barbecue and other local favorites. He continued teaching himself fine dining and more refined cooking methods to achieve the level of a chef. After working in multiple restaurants and other catering businesses, Clay decided to take on Culinary School. He graduated Cum Laude. After graduation, Clay enlarged his business and began catering on a much grander scale.

Chef Clay has taught in a college culinary program. Always desiring to be a student, Clay's love of the food industry led him to pursue a number of certifications including a Servsafe Instructor, Level One Sommelier, Tips, Food Cost Control, and Certified Culinarian. He is also a certified Judge and Table Captain for the KCBS, NCBS and often a competitor. Currently you can find Chef Clay catering to the masses and celebrities, cooking and judging BBQ, teaching food safety and continuing to travel the globe, learning all he can about the world's food and beverage industry.

NCBS is pleased to have Chef Clay White on our board. Welcome Chef Clay.

Steve Grady
Board Member

Steve Grady is the co-owner (with his wife Gerrie) of Grady's BBQ in Dudley, N.C. Grady's BBQ is one of the Historic BBQ Pits on The NCBS Historic BBQ Trail. Steve is a legendary Eastern North Carolina Pit Master and has cooked over 14,000 whole hogs. Steve was one of the Class of 2008 NCBS Wall of Fame inductees and has been showcased in a number of newspapers and magazines. See the USA Today article on the News and Events link on this website. Also see Grady's BBQ on the NCBS Historic BBQ Trail on the BBQ Trail link on this website.

Steve grew up on a farm and has raised pigs and been around pigs all of his life. As a boy Steve learned to cook pigs the old fashioned way on pits with live coals. Steve never departed from his up-bringing. Thirty-five (35) years ago Steve left his job at the lumber yard and opened Grady's BBQ in Dudley so he and his wife could work together. Since Grady's opened, Steve has adveraged cooking about 10 whole hogs a week , fifty-one weeks a year. Steve and Gerrie also do catering in addition to the cooking at their permanent location at the intersection of Arrington Bridge Road and Sleepy Creek Road outside of Dudley.

We are pleased to have Steve bring his vast cooking experience and sage wisdom to our board. And in addition we can tap into Gerrie's considerable skills in the kitchen and have the pleasure of her million candle watt smile at our events.

Bobby Wooten
Board Member

Bobby Wooten is a resident of Oak Island, NC. He is an avid boatman and fisherman. Bobby's skills on the water are exceeded only by his skills at the grill. If it swims, Bobby will catch it. If he catches it, he will cook it. If he cooks it you hope to be on the invitation list. Bobby has been on the NCBS staff for many, many years. He helps put up our camps, handles registration, works in the kitchen and generally jumps in and helps whomever he sees needs a hand. I cannot think of anything about our camps this multitalented man cannot do.

Bobby has not only helped make our camps run smoothly, through his efforts he has helped NCBS secure sponsors to help fund our events and provide the funds for the $50,000 we offer in scholarships to disabled Warriors and First Responders of North Carolina.

NCBS is indeed indebted to this man.

It is with great pleasure that NCBS adds Bobby Wooten to its Board. Welcome Bobby!

Donnie Boltz
Board Member

In March 2017 I had the privilege of spending some time with Donnie Boltz. He is a fascinating man. Donnie has appeared before Congress as a spokesperson for the small business man. He supports and works with many conservation and charitable groups locally including SUFS. He creates the recipes for his restaurant Fish Bites. He is the congenial host at his restaurant that make everyone feel at home. I am told that every now and then he takes a nap, although I found no proof of this.

I am pleased to say Donnie and I have become "Buds". Donnie agreed to be one of our instructors at the Wilmington camp September 30th, 2017. He did an outstanding classes on seafood. Donnie agreed to share how he makes his fabulous New England Clam Chowder. He also did a class on how to properly filet a fish and how to make some of his scrumptious sauces.

In addition to creating the recipes for his restaurant and teaching his chefs how to make them, Donnie makes the desserts for Fish Bites. Fresh is a hallmark of Fish Bites. Donnie has his own boats, his own fresh fish market and his own oyster beds. If it is fresher than Fish Bites, it is still swimming. Fish Bites IS a 100 mile restaurant.

NCBS is privileged to have this talented man on our faculty and Board. Welcome Donnie!

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NCBS is dedicated to supporting
our warriors through
scholarships and attendance
at our BBQ Boot Camps.

NCBS is dedicated to supporting
1st Responders through
scholarships and attendance
at our BBQ Boot Camps.

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NCBS was recently asked to go to the Dominican Republic and help put on an event for the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo.

Email: ~ Winston-Salem, NC 27104