OAKLAND, CALIF. — The Kingsford Products Co., a subsidiary of The Clorox Co., announced the next class of Preserve the Pit fellows.

“We are excited to announce our third class of fellows and to celebrate and share their stories with the barbecue community,” said Cassandra Lewis, associate director of brand marketing at Kingsford.

The six fellows represent barbecue professionals from across the industry, including pitmasters, caterers, restaurant owners and — a first for the program — digital storytellers.

The 2023 class of Preserve the Pit includes:

  • Ronald Payne, a third-generation pitmaster of the Memphis barbecue institution, Payne’s Bar-B-Q.
  • Caleb and Sabrina Henley, founders of Pilot Point, Texas-based Yearby’s Barbecue & Waterice, which specializes in halal barbecue.
  • Darren W. Carter, co-owner of Carter’s BBQ, Euclid, Ohio. Carter also founded The Unknowns Black Pitmaster, a podcast highlighting Black American barbecue enthusiasts and pitmasters.
  • Tay Nelson, owner of Bobby’s BBQ, Fountain Inn, SC.
  • Deah Berry Mitchell, historian and food writer from Dallas. Mitchell contributes to The New York Times and Fort Worth Report with her weekly column, “The Dish with Deah,” which highlights some of the best barbecue businesses in Dallas and Fort Worth.
  • Nate Figaro, owner of 8020 Creole BBQ & Rub, Knightdale, NC. Figaro also teaches online cooking classes and hosts pop-up cooking events.

Preserve the Pit works to invest in Black barbecue culture and support local communities. The fellows will receive immersive training on the grill, a grant to support their business goals and one-on-one mentorship from Kingsford’s network of industry leaders. Each fellow will celebrate their selection with a barbecue in their home community, funded through the program.

At the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the fellows will gather with their mentor partners to exchange stories and grilling expertise.

“The level of passion, pride and commitment to community displayed by these fellows embodies Preserve the Pit,” Lewis said. “We can’t wait to kick off in Memphis and see what they’re throwing on the grill.”