Super Smokers’ Founder Says World BBQ Champ in Good Hands
Eureka, MO/July 26, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – St. Louis is known as a barbecue town—nowadays that is. It wasn’t always so. The city has a long and storied culinary history, but our rise to barbecue fame is relatively new. One of the first great barbecue joints in St. Louis, Super Smokers BBQ (601 Stockell Drive, Eureka), helped pave the way for all the others. It’s founder, pitmaster Terry Black is known as “the Godfather” of St. Louis barbecue, and for good reason. In 2000, Super Smokers became the very first restaurant team from St. Louis to win the International World BBQ Championship in Memphis—taking 1st Place in the challenging “Whole Hog” category. Some of today’s best pitmasters trace their histories back to Terry Black: Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse is a former Super Smokers employee, and Bogart’s Skip Steele is a former partner. Terry Black has decided it’s time for him to step away from the the pit, so another of his disciples, Jeff Fitter of Phatso’s BBQ Catering is taking over Super Smokers, with plans to keep the award-winning BBQ tradition going.
Fitter has spent more than a decade cooking alongside the Super Smokers team. He and Black met in early 2001, at a BBQ class at the Kitchen Conservatory (8021 Clayton Road, Clayton). The two struck up a friendship, with Fitter even helping out at the 2001 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Competition. Fitter says he was just there to watch and learn mostly, when he had a Cinderella moment. Super Smokers, the reigning “Whole Hog” champion, was defending that title when their overnight pit guy had to cancel at the last minute. Barbecuing a whole hog is a 24-hour undertaking and the pit temperature has to be maintained during the entire process. Fitter stepped in to mind the smoker all night. He didn’t know at the time that he was volunteering to keep the temperature on target during a night of severe thunderstorms. Still, Fitter manned his post, and the team finished seventh, maintaining their top 10 status for another year.
Fitter says Black took him under his wing and mentored him as he developed his own barbecue techniques. In 2002, Fitter and a couple of his barbecue-loving neighbors formed their own competitive team, Big Subpoenas BBQ. The competition team eventually grew into Phatso’s BBQ, catering Memphis style, slow-smoked barbecue. Fitter and his friends joke that they started Phatso’s to support their “smoking habit.” Over the years, Fitter and Black remained friends and continued to cook together, even opening a Super Smokers in St. Peters in 2009. They operated the restaurant for about 10 months before selling it.
Advancing to his own full-time, brick-and-mortar restaurant was the natural next step for Fitter. So when Terry Black decided it was time to take a step back after more than 20 years making and selling world class barbecue, it was another Cinderella moment for Fitter. Jeff Fitter was ready for his own place, and Black says he has absolute confidence in his protoge. “I couldn’t be more excited to have someone who has been an important part of our team, who gets excited about BBQ, and who is committed to excellence carrying on the Super Smokers tradition of making World Championship BBQ,” Black said. Fitter officially took the reigns on June 30, 2017.
Jeff Fitter’s Super Smokers BBQ is a lot like Terry Black’s. Customers will find the perfectly smoked ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, and turkey they’ve long associated with Super Smokers. Fitter says his cooking process is based on the Super Smokers method, but he likes to slow it down a bit for maximum flavor. Fitter says everything, from the barbecued meats to the sides, will be cooked fresh daily. That includes his already popular macaroni and cheese, a Phatso’s favorite that’s new to the Super Smokers menu. But wait, there’s more! He’s also added brisket mac and cheese—his creamy, cheesy baked mac with chunks of smoked beef brisket throughout. Fitter says he’s freshened up and spiced up the sides a bit, and added some chicken wing specials. He’s also hoping to eventually add some new smoked offerings, like sausages.
Super Smokers is open for lunch, dinner, and carryout Sunday – Thursday from 10:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. or when the barbecue is sold out, Friday – Saturday from 10:45 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. or so. They stay open an extra hour during spring and summer, when Six Flags is open. Fitter has folded his Phatso’s BBQ Catering into Super Smokers, so catering is still available.
Fitter says he couldn’t have taken this next step in his barbecue career without the help and full support of his wife Michelle and the rest of his family. Fitter is justifiably proud and extremely appreciative of their support. In fact, Fitter says their Super Smokers is a family-owned business, and everyone in the family is pitching in to make the restaurant the warm, inviting, family-friendly place he envisioned. His daughters, 21-year-old C.J. and 22-year-old Brittni, are both working there. Even Fitter’s father (Ben) helps out, doing whatever’s needed, including washing the dishes.
Fitter says his family also wants to focus on increasing Super Smokers involvement in the local community. He says it’s important for his business to be committed to the community, and to participate in events like the annual Eureka Scarecrow Festival. Super Smokers has been a fixture in the community for years, and Fitter says he wants to grow that connection. Fitter says he and his family are honored to be entrusted to carry on the legacy that Super Smokers has built in St. Louis BBQ, and in Eureka area.
Super Smokers BBQ
Owners: Jeff and Michelle Fitter
601 Stockell Drive
Eureka, MO 63025
Phone: (636) 938-9742