Growing up in South Florida, particularly Miami, we are spared much of the overt racial animus and painful reminders of our nation’s racist past – unlike many of our southern (but geographically northern) neighbors. From police officers attacking and killing our people, to a couple of ridiculous Kansas City residents campaigning and celebrating the blockage of efforts to rename a major road after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to the defacing of Emmitt Till’s grave, the insidious and horrific assaults continue. Although I’m not holding my breath, our nation must eventually face a very tired Black America with more than just apologies.
Apology or not, we remain determined to celebrate ourselves every chance we get. Our team embarked on the Black Wall Street Foodie Tour of Tulsa, which was motivated by and coincided with a dynamic conference being put on by Blacktech Week in support of Black entrepreneurs, tech innovators and creators. (www.blacktechweek.com).
On our way, we passed a sidewalk with the names of slain Black entrepreneurs and their respective businesses that had been destroyed by an angry government-sponsored white mob. Arguably one of our nation’s most heinous racial episodes outside of slavery itself, the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 was more than just a domestic terrorist attack. It was an attack on the core value of what this nation was built on.
The Tulsa-Greenwood area of Oklahoma had not only escaped the pressures of Jim Crow, but also managed to establish a thriving metropolis of Black Owned Businesses dubbed “Black Wall Street.” Because the endeavor resulted in the dollar’s strong, enduring circulation within their network, the community was able to create strong schools, hospitals, insurance companies, and other infrastructure building businesses. Jealous white folk were totally threatened and intimidated by this coalition of former slaves thriving through its embrace of capitalism, innovation, and entrepreneurship, so they totally obliterated it.
Unfortunately, where there was a thriving business center stands not even a shadow of its historical glory. Thankfully, there are a few Black culinarians dedicated to keeping the legacy of Black Wall Street alive and well. One of these incredible individual’s is Ms. Almead Hill Stutts, owner and operator of Stutts House of Barbeque located at 2021 E Apache St, Tulsa, OK 74110.
Walking into this picturesque eatery was like traveling back in time. Antiques, WWII era post cards, early 20th century advertisements and photographs adorn the walls, sparking conversation from any corner of the restaurant. Picnic tables shrouded with the quintessential checkered blue and white table cloths further underscore the nostalgia of this BBQ joint. It gives you a non-racist Cracker Barrel vibe for real, for real.
Ms. Stutts is a classy and educated woman who in her past life was a teacher. She has worked in the BBQ industry for over 40 years, initially employed by Wilson’s BBQ, where she learned the art of the grill. She eventually traded her classroom for a pit.
Ms. Stutts shared with our team that she experienced discrimination from her initial landlord who felt she would be unable to hack the job of cleaning a pit and running a BBQ joint simply because she was a woman. Well, 20 years later, Ms. Stutts operates a thriving, hugely popular BBQ spot that locals frequent with loyal regularity.
I ordered the 3-meat dinner combo (hot links, brisket, and ribs) and Ms. Stutts treated us to small samples of chopped smoked bologna. Each protein was smoked to a satisfactory presentation in both flavor and taste. My favorite by far was the smoked chicken. I liked that she used wood for her pit. It burns clean and brings out a pungent flavor that is easily identified once you taste her BBQ. I liked that her style of ribs leaned more along the lines of St. Louis and a sauce that screamed Kansas City. That combination was surprisingly received well.
I washed down the smoked meat goodness with homemade sweet tea. For dessert, we indulged in her signature Buttermilk pie. Pretty much a standard custard based pie, this baby is could have been a show stopper if she had made her own crust, but it was still pretty good. It reminded me of a slightly sweeter chess pie supported by a welcomed acidity in the form of vinegar, buttermilk, or lemon juice breaking through the sweetness. You should especially order this delicious pie if you’re having a shitty day because it will change your entire mood.
Stutts House of Barbecue is just that. A House where BBQ can thrive in the comfort of its own home. Stutts isn’t influenced by younger pit masters trying to fuse flavors and cultures. Instead, Stutts House of Barbeque serves up a no-frills classic BBQ plate for both the veteran BBQ enthusiast and unfamiliar foodies looking for authentic style BBQ.
You can reach Stutts House of Barbeque at Phone: (918) 428-2355. You can read more on amazing eateries in your hometown and the nation by following us @thehungryblackman on Facebook and Instagram or subscribe to our blog at www.thehungryblackman.com
I love this story! Women can do whatever they put their minds to! and this queen of a pitmaster has proved everyone wrong!
She is the Queen Pitmaster, and her Buttermilk Pies give me life.