Sept. 1 is the official publication date set for “The Proffitts of Ridgewood: An Appalachian Family’s Life in Barbecue,” by Fred Sauceman.
The book is a 96-page history of the popular Ridgewood Barbecue restaurant and the Proffitt family, which has run it for three generations now, keeping the same unique ham barbecue and sauce that they have cooked since the barbecuing began.
Ridgewood Barbecue is a small, family owned-and-run barbecue restaurant tucked into the woods of Bluff City off Elizabethton Highway.
The restaurant is famous for its beans, bleu cheese dip and unique sliced-ham barbecue, an aroma that hits you before the restaurant even comes into sight. Anyone who has eaten at this small but well-known barbecue joint knows the food is plentiful, but not everyone knows the history.
The ham and the recipes? They’re exactly the same as they were, preparation and all, when original owners Jim and Grace Proffitt started barbecuing fresh ham in the 1950s.
“It’s humbling to have a book that’s written,” said Larry Proffitt, Jim and Grace’s son, who took over the restaurant after them. “A lot of books that are written are not accurate, but everything Fred has written in this book is accurate. It’s a testament to my parents, my generation (me), and my daughter.”
Sauceman, the author of the book, has taught a class called “Foodways of Appalachia” since 2005. He began interviewing Larry Proffitt for the book in June 2003 and has interviewed him around 20 times. Sauceman said Proffitt served as not only the main source of information and inspiration for the book, but the heart and soul of it.
Larry Proffitt’s daughter, Lisa Proffitt Peters, currently manages the restaurant, keeping it in the family.
“To be given the responsibility of telling this family’s story is one of the greatest honors of my life because I admire who they are and what they stand for,” said Sauceman. ”It’s not just a story about food, It’s a story about family.”
“The Proffitts of Ridgewood: An Appalachian Family’s Life in Barbecue” is published by Mercer University Press and will be on sale at the Ridgewood Barbecue restaurant, I Love Books Bookstore in Kingsport and on Amazon. The official publication date is Sept. 1.