The Pit Master

Gunner Roe

Growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Gunner Roe was exposed to the area’s traditions and values.
 
As a child, Gunner lived within walking distance of the Chester River where he spent the spring and summer months fishing and crabbing, and the fall and winter months hunting in the woods and fields of Kent County.
 
When arriving home with the day’s bounty, Gunner was quickly funneled to the back yard with his mother’s greeting of, “you’re not cleaning or cooking that in my house!” It was the beginning of the learning to cook everything on the family charcoal grill, from fish and crabs to ducks, geese, and other wild game.
 
While working for the family oil distributorship in the early 1980’s, Gunner and his brother Marshall opened a chicken barbecue stand at one of the family’s gasoline stations located on the main beach route between Baltimore/Washington, D.C. and Ocean City, MD. Gunner concocted a white barbecue sauce from an old Eastern Shore recipe. Serving upwards of 750 chicken dinners in a weekend, the pace was hectic. Instead of using a typical paint brush applicator, Gunner used a small cotton mop-like utensil to quickly slap each chicken as he moved along the grill. At one point a customer remarked that Gunner appeared to be “Spankin’ the chickens,” and so the name Spankin’ Sauce was born.

 

After graduating college, Gunner was routinely asked to prepare his sought after chicken and other barbecued delicacies. Gunner decided to honor the on-going requests by starting The Grill Meister  barbecue and catering business in 1992.
 
Several years into his ever growing business, Gunner learned of a barbecue contest held annually in Washington, D.C. Gunner entered his first contest in 1998 at the National Capitol Barbecue Battle. Gunner and his two man team took 6th place in the whole hog category and immediately “caught the barbecue contest bug.
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Gunner then began to attend the annual conventions of the NBBQA  in 1999where he met some of the elite of the barbecue world such as Smokey Hale, David Klose, and Paul Kirk and other living legends.
 
While attending dozens of contests and winning hundreds of awards, The Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival remains Gunner’s favorite contest he has competited in. Another of Gunner’s contest highlights included being a member of the all-star team assembled by David Klose for the World Barbecue Contest in Lebanon, TN.
 
Gunner continues to operate The Grill Meister catering and barbecue business as well as La Vista Smoke House located in Puerto Rico.

2018 by La Vista Smokehouse award winning barbecue with a view of Jobos beach.