Mike Emerson

Pappy's Smokehouse
St. Louis, MO

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Mike Emerson is a seventh generation Missourian who grew up hunting and fishing. His love for BBQ started early, hanging around campfires with older family members.

After years of working for and under some of St. Louis’ best restaurant families, Mike was introduced to a new world of slow-smoked BBQ by his longtime friend, hunting companion, and business partner, Skip Steele.

In 2008, Mike opened Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis, which has won numerous awards including best BBQ in St. Louis five years in a row.  




We sat down with Pappy’s pitmaster Mike Emerson to talk barbecue, road trips, and top cooking tips.


Tell us about what you’ll be cooking at Q in the Lou and why you chose that dish and side.
We’re cooking whole hog and pit-baked beans. We love cooking hogs, and it’s something that the people seem to enjoy. Our pit-baked beans have become one of the most requested sides we do.

If you had to offer one helpful tip to the backyard barbecuers of the world, what would it be?
Get to know your butcher. Guys like Chris Bolyard and the folks at Annie Gunn’s are great resources.

If you could take an all-expenses-paid BBQ road trip across America, which three pits would you stop at?
Hometown BBQ in Brooklyn, Ubon’s in Yazoo, Mississippi, and Big Bob Gibson’s.

Describe the Pappy’s menu in one word.

What was your BBQ epiphany?
Not sure I’ve had it yet!

What’s your must-have tool for barbecue prep?
Sharp knives.

Who is or was the biggest influence on your cooking?
My partner, Skip Steele.

Can we officially deem St. Louis a BBQ city?
We’re the only city with a rib named after it!

Think we’ll ever become oversaturated with barbecue spots?
Ha! Would you ask that question in Memphis or KC?

Why do people come from across the country to eat at Pappy’s?
Good BBQ!

What’s the key to the perfect slab of ribs?
Start with the best meat, and take your time.