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Episode 103 — Rodney Scott — Humility & Focus: The Antidote to Complacency

"I get nervous every time. It's that passion to want to deliver the best you can and make a memorable experience. You don't want to take your foot off the gas." - Rodney Scott

  • What makes Rodney Scott Whole Hog Barbecue unique?
  • What is the line between a fun hobby and true passion?
  • What challenges did Rodney face on his path to receiving a James Beard Award?
  • What went through Rodney's head when a fire broke out while recording a Netflix episode of Chef's Table?
  • Why does Rodney see McDonald’s as competition?
  • What did Rodney have to give up to achieve notoriety?

The Difference You Can Taste

A 30-year overnight success, pitmaster Rodney Scott has cooked thousands of whole hogs to get where he is today: winner of the James Beard Award, a full episode on Netflix's Chef's Table, and an appearance on HBO's Billions. But for Rodney, each hog is just as important as his first — he still gets the jitters on overnight cooks.

Cooking a whole hog is one of the most difficult things a cook can do. To execute perfectly, it takes precise temperature control and the tireless stamina of two people perfectly in sync to flip the hog multiple times over 12 hours. Rodney’s dedication to the craft goes beyond love to full-blown obsession. He burns down coals from whole pieces of wood and uses his fingers instead of gauges to check the temperature.

When Rodney came to cook a whole hog at Crisp, everyone — vegetarians and dieters included — raved it was the best food of their lives. Rodney spoke about dedication and pride of craft, the unflinching optimism necessary for growth, and shutting out distraction. Pull up a seat at our table and dig in.

Curiosity and Opportunity

Rodney's courage in the face of the unknown has helped him let go of convention and grow. When scaling restaurants — and law firms — systems and standards ensure consistency. To execute, you must be willing to teach others and check in to make sure it all goes to plan.

"The problems change. They don't necessarily go away, but we take them with a grain of salt — we're prepared. And we just stay focused. So every time we get an accolade, I appreciate it. And then I set it to the side. I want to focus on the next one. That keeps me working hard. It keeps me grounded." - Rodney Scott

The best do not rest on awards and accolades. Success is just the start. Game changers ask the question, "What can be improved?" over and over. Big changes like investing in metal pits over brick ones and little tweaks like changing pit location to improve airflow add up, improving the product over time. Learn from each mistake. Take notes and improve.

Key takeaways:

  • Get good at it. Whatever your “it” is, devote time and attention. Give your heart and soul.
  • Keep learning. The moment you think you know everything is the moment you've lost it all.
  • Be the same person. In front of three or 3000, remain authentic, kind, and humble. You never know who is watching.

Links and Resources