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Pitmaster Helen Turner Is a One-Woman Barbecue Machine

She’s been making smoky sandwiches and special sauce on her own for 16 years

Helen Turner is one of only a few female pit masters in the country, but her loyal customers, smoky sandwiches, and coveted sauce recipe are evidence that she holds her own in the male-dominated barbecue world. Today's video from the Southern Foodways Alliance documentary series features Helen's Bar-B-Q, the one-woman operation that Turner has run six days a week for the past 17 years.

Helen's is located in an unassuming building in Brownsville, Tennessee, about 45 minutes outside Memphis. Turner took over the space in 1996 from another restaurant she worked with, becoming both the name and face of the establishment. She's responsible for everything that happens at Helen's, from stoking coals to making change — so much so that customers are hesitant to place orders with anyone but her, even when Turner's daughter is working the register. It's the kind of loyalty and love that turns a small operation into a fan favorite.

To learn more about the Southern Foodways Alliance, click here.

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