Pit masters are highly regarded practitioners in the art of smoking meat. They are the quarterbacks of the BBQ world.
Simply put, the pit master maintains the smoke, the meat, and the customers.
At Kreuz Market that job belongs to the legendary Pit Master Roy Perez.
He is the man with the mutton chops who loves Elvis and BBQ.
Roy was hired in 1987 by barbecue mentor and 4th generation Kreuz owner Rick Schmidt.
Roy was an out of work construction worker and Schmidt was looking for someone to work the barbecue pits.
Schmidt quickly recognized Perez had skills.
Kreuz smokes meat the old fashioned way. This is a skill Perez had to learn.
Roy calls his smoking technique old school. He uses nothing but salt, pepper and smoke. No barbecue sauce needed.
Roy cooks low and slow without making any compromises. Most pit masters know the meat’s done when the thermometer tells them so; Roy knows by smell and sizzle alone.
“Here we come in, we though it on the pit. We don’t have no gauges. We don’t have no thermometers. We do it by feel.” said Perez.
That puts the taste of the meat squarely on the shoulders of the pit master. It’s a lot of pressure.
“I’ve worked here 30 years. Never had a vacation, never took a day off, never called in sick.”
“To be a pit master you have to have a passion for it. You have to have the will to stay here long hours, hot temperatures, you have to love it. Otherwise, you won’t make it here,” Roy said.
After 30 years of smoking meat, Roy has earned legendary pit master status in the BBQ world.
He has been interviewed in newspapers and on television all over the world.
Customers flock to take pictures with him and follow his wise words on Twitter.
And he has no plans on retiring.
I’ll probably be here until they bury me in the ashes.”