Barbecue Bible

Centerpiece feature for The Memphis Daily News

May 6, 2013

Memphis institution Corky’s publishes cookbook

For 29 years, Corky’s Ribs & Bar-B-Q has been serving up pulled pork and ribs with a side of beans, slaw and innovation.

In 1984, founder Don Pelts, who owned The Public Eye in Midtown at the time, was waiting patiently for the location at 5259 Poplar Ave. in East Memphis to come available. When it finally did, he found himself surrounded by fast food joints, so he added his own drive-thru.

When devotees in other states called clamoring for the smoked pork in their own kitchens, he shipped it to them via FedEx.

When Pelts thought not enough food lovers knew the name, he began selling his wares on QVC.

Another milestone in the Corky’s empire happened last week when the cookbook “Cookin’ With Corky’s” went on sale.

“He would tell you right now, all he was hoping for was that he would make enough money to pay his bills; he is a pessimist by nature,” Barry Pelts said of his father, who has retired and passed the business down to his son and son-in-law, Andy Woodman.

The 240-page book, with 165 recipes and 200 photos that include vintage pictures from the Corky’s collection and new from local photographer Jay Adkins, is published by Favorite Recipes Press of Nashville. The publisher works with nonprofits, companies and individuals, and has published 1,500 cookbook titles since 1961.

The local representative for Favorite Recipes Press, Sheila Thomas, has worked on specialty cookbooks for the Junior League of Memphis and the Women’s Exchange, and has sold cookbooks on QVC for years. It was in the green room at the station one day that she sold the idea of a Corky’s cookbook to Jimmy Stovall, purveyor of barbecue on the home shopping channel.

“He really saw the vision for it,” Thomas said.

Stovall has worked for Corky’s for 15 years, beginning in the drive-thru line and working his way up the ladder. He now manages the Cordova restaurant as well as spending about 100 days per year in West Chester, Pa., working on-air with QVC.

Stovall’s longevity with the restaurant is not a fluke; Barry Pelts said the average employee has been with the company for 18 years. It’s a family, and that is the primary theme of the book, which took about a year to put together … (read more)