The Pit Master
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.