Wes Berry spoke about Kentucky Barbecue in an encore presentation of our Kentucky Live series on Thursday, November 7. A reception sponsored by WKU-Glasgow followed.
A native of Horse Cave, Kentucky, Berry attended Temple Hill Elementary school before graduating from Barren County High School. Growing up in Barren County he recalls that his uncle was an entrepreneur who would “flip meat all day.” When he would visit his uncle, he would be given chores to do and then his uncle would reward him with smoked meat. And thus began his fascination with barbecue or “meat cooked with smoke.”
He received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Western Kentucky University before entering graduate studies in language and literature at the University of Mississippi in 1994. He received his MA and then a PhD in English in 2000 while cultivating an interest in the study of literature and the environment and publishing essays and short stories in a variety of journals from the Crescent Review to the Southern Quarterly. He taught English at Rockford College in Illinois before returning to his alma mater where he is presently an Associate Professor and coordinator of the Robert Penn Warren Center where he teaches classes on Kentucky and Southern Literature. His current interest is foodways, especially unique regional cuisines and he often arranges his courses around food related themes.
With a desire to bring greater recognition to the state’s fine barbecue tradition he began a three year quest which has involved visiting more than 160 of the state’s barbecue shacks, joints, restaurants and festivals and culminated in his recent book KY BBQ published this year by the University Press of Kentucky. He’s recently become host of a tv show on WBKO which showcases great food from some of the regions mom and pop restaurants.