Chris Shepherd may not have recovered his stolen barbecue pit, but the story will have a happy ending. Pitmaker, the Houston-based company that built the stolen smoker, announced it will donate a replacement to the chef's Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit that raises money to help people in the restaurant industry cover emergency expenses.
"Pitmaker barbecue pits have been used for this noble purpose at Southern Smoke every year for four years," co-owner George Shore said in a statement. "This is why Pitmaker is completely replacing the barbecue trailer that was stolen free of charge. We will not allow theft or ill doings to hinder the incredible mission in our community industry that Southern Smoke is about.”
Shepherd added that he's received an incredible outpouring of support about the purloined pit. One woman who won a raffle for a Pitmaker smoker at a previous edition of Southern Smoke even offered to donate the prize back to the foundation.
"Pitmaker’s offer to donate a new smoker to us floored me," Shepherd said. "They’ve already given so much to this foundation, and they continue to give because they believe in what we do. We started Southern Smoke to take care of our own. And now Pitmaker is taking care of us. It’s a wonderful thing.”
The chef won't have to wait long to put his new smoker to work. He'll be at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest cooking with the Pitmaker BBQ Addiction team. In addition, an all-new spring edition of Southern Smoke will take place April 14-18 with a series of dinners at Shepherd's Montrose restaurants.