There's a little spot in rural Knox County that you might not know about, but people across the country do. This barbecue joint has made its way onto national television shows for doing what it does best, cooking up home style favorites.
Gran Torino was a big-time local band in the '90s playing at sold out shows across the country.
"I became a musician from day one and that's all I ever wanted to do when I grew up," says Chris Ford.
And Chris Ford did just that. He spent his 20s living out his dream.
"We turned 30 and it started to become a job," says Ford.
And it was time for a change. "After the music career dried up, I was too far gone to have a normal life or work for anyone so yeah, I started cooking and barbecuing," says Ford.
Barbecue was the obvious choice being born and bred in the South and coming off his national tour with Gran Torino.
"One of our favorite things to do was to go to juke joints, dive bars and soul houses, barbecue and country cooking-type places," says Ford.
He cooked in his kitchen at home and business took off. "Being from Knoxville, going to high school and college here, I had a lot of buddies in the pharmaceutical, medical rep, medical sales field and they were kind enough to let me cook for them every day," says Ford.
Chris then started Sweet P's, named after his daughter.
"Presley Ford, Sweet P, if you will. My only daughter," says Ford.
It's quaint restaurant in rural Knox County.
"It's been awesome actually and we've been really lucky. In the beginning it was really scary because I certainly didn't know what I was doing. And as you well know we're in the middle of nowhere," says Ford.
But it was somewhere to producers of two national television shows. "After we got our feet under us we were also then lucky enough to appear on Man v. Food, which changed our lives literally overnight," says Ford.
The Man v. Food challenge was big and tasty. "It's a four pound barbecue burrito with a pound of sides. Half a pound of mac n' cheese and half pound of banana pudding," says Ford.
And then a second food show came calling. The United Tastes of America on The Cooking Channel.
"They picked me to be their rib expert. That was a lot of fun shooting that because it was really about what we do every day," says Ford.
Turns out the barbecue business has done pretty well for Chris.
"Business has not dropped off even a little bit and we are better than ever at what we do," says Chris.
People love every last bite of the barbecue, homemade mac n' cheese, and collard greens.
"Everything I've done, be it music or the restaurant business, I've needed people to support it. We can't be a successful band without people coming to your shows. We can't be a successful restaurant if people aren't coming to eat," says Ford. "So I've been very lucky that my community has supported everything I've done up to this point."
Chris Ford, a rocker turned barbecue master, but a hometown boy at heart.
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