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Red Door BBQ Photo By Collins Laatsch

Smoke Signals: Red Door BBQ

If you need to know anything about how much love goes into the food shipped out of a little square window in Franklinton, it’s all on chef Darrell Thornton’s face. He house-makes just about everything but the lemonade, and smokes everything out back. Wanna feel the same joy that Darrell feels everyday? Stop by and pop a few of those burnt ends in your face. You’re welcome.

What is your culinary background?

[I’ve] been cooking since I was 8, taught by my grandmother. I started cooking in restaurants at the age of 15. My first job was Dairy Queen.

What sets you apart from the other BBQ joints in Columbus?

What sets me apart, in my mind, from other restaurants, is that I cook everything in-house. From my sauces, to all my sides.

Does Columbus have its own BBQ style?

Yes, I think Columbus has its own style of barbecue, more of a Midwest style. I like to take parts of all regions and put them together and make my own.

What old school BBQ joints would you tip your hat to in Columbus?

One of my favorite barbecue spots here in Columbus is H. Johnson’s. [It’s] a landmark. They’ve been here for about 40 years, if not more.

What’s the classic mistake you see people making with BBQ—either at home or in restaurants?

One of the biggest mistakes I see at home [is] they always try to rush BBQ. BBQ is long and slow.

What’s the secret to true BBQ, in a six-word sentence? 

Long and slow. Do not rush.