Kingsford Charcoal Launches "Preserve the Pit" Fellowship to Mentor Aspiring Black Pitmasters

“Kingsford wants to acknowledge and honor the contributions of the Black community while helping future generations blaze their own trail.”

Kingsford Preserve the Pit
Photo: Kingsford

Charcoal company Kingsford has launched a new initiative that focuses on highlighting and preserving the contributions Black Americans have made to barbecue, while ensuring they have a prominent place in the future of the cuisine.

With this week's launch of Kingsford's Preserve the Pit fellowship program, aspiring barbecue professionals are invited to apply to an opportunity for immersive training and one-on-one mentorship with some of the top pitmasters in the nation. Winners will also receive an undisclosed capital investment to kick-start their business.

"As the modern-day story of barbecue continues to unfold, it's important to celebrate those who have made it what it is today," Shaunte Mears-Watkins, vice president of strategy and marketing for Kingsford, said in a news release. "The traditions of Black pitmasters helped bring barbecue into the center of American culture, but their contributions are not always given the spotlight. As a leader in the barbecue industry, Kingsford wants to acknowledge and honor the contributions of the Black community while helping future generations blaze their own trail."

Mentors include:

Kevin Bludso: chef, television personality and owner of Bludso's BBQ in Hollywood

Dr. Howard Conyers: rocket scientist and pitmaster

Devita Davison: executive director of the nonprofit FoodLab

Bryan Furman: award-winning Georgia pitmaster

Rashad Jones: owner of Big Lee's BBQ food truck in Florida

Amy Mills: owner of 17th Street Barbecue and OnCue Consulting

"Kingsford and I have a shared passion for the deep-rooted culture of barbecue as well as an understanding for the impact that the past has had on today," Dr. Conyers said in a statement. "I feel confident that the resources and opportunities presented through Preserve the Pit will inspire future generations to pursue barbecue as a career rather than only a passion."

WATCH: The Secret History of BBQ Sauce

Those interested in the fellowship are welcome to apply now through March 1, 2021. Kingsford and the mentors will select the 2021 class of fellows based on a variety of factors including their connection to barbecue, contributions to the legacy of the Black barbecue community, and commitment to its future.

Visit to learn more.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles