Tuffy Stone

Tuffy Stone is a six-time world champion pitmaster most recently awarded at the 2019 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Festival. He’s also a former Marine, a French-trained chef, author of Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue, and an acclaimed restaurant owner. His legendary precision and “smoke science” obsession make him one of the most influential icons in the barbecue circuit. In fact, in 2016, Tuffy and his Cool Smoke BBQ Team made history at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational, becoming the only team to ever win the contest three times. Tuffy also served as a judge for Destination America’s “Barbecue Pitmasters” for five consecutive seasons. Needless to say, we’re proud to call him one of our own.

What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning?


A: My first thought upon waking up is thinking about the meats I’ll be cooking. Barbecue takes time and coordination, so I need to think of when to season the meat and when to put the meat on the pit, so that they all cook to tender and juicy at the right moment. The big cuts like brisket and pork shoulder take longer, so they need to go on first. After that I think about ribs, then chicken. After this my mind drifts to the fire. I need to get my fire lit, so that my coals are ready and the pit is up to temperature, so all of these meats will be done in time.


Q: Where is your favorite place to barbecue?


A: I have cooked barbecue all over the world. It has such a universal appeal, which I love! If I had to pick a favorite place, it would be my backyard with my family & dogs.


Q: Tell us a favorite story from a day out?


A: A day in Kuwait: I cooked for the troops in Kuwait and we had finished our second feeding of 3,000 troops. It was a hard day of work. When we finished, I encountered a few of the troops seated in old schoolroom chairs, leaning back with their eyes closed. I asked them how the food was, and one replied that it was great and that he closed his eyes for a moment and he felt like he was home. This was why we were there.


Q: Who are your heroes?


A: My grandmother. She had the ability to make everyone in the room feel special. She taught me how to fish and gave me some of my first recipes for cooking.


Q: If there is any love­-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe what that is?


A: I love the ability to take tough cuts of meats and cook them to tasty and succulent with a fire fueled by wood. Cooking this way, and especially at competitions, can be quite draining physically and mentally, and this part of the process can be difficult. Also competitions require more time away from home.


Q: What sound or noise do you love?


A: Sizzle, fire, crackle, or roar


Q: What would be your day job if you weren’t doing what you are currently doing?


A: Photographer, landscaper, or fishing guide