Featured Pitmaster: Cutting beef, not corners

The chef behind the famed Roy’s Grille in Lexington shares a few barbecue secrets leading up to his appearance at Rock N’ Ribs.

Story by Julia Hall

As the owner of catering company William Christopher’s and of Roy’s Grille, an acclaimed restaurant that operates inside of an Exxon gas station in Lexington, chef Chris Williams stays busy. He grew up in Olar, in Bamberg County, where his family grew their own vegetables and raised their own pigs and chickens. On the Roy’s Grille menu you will find house-smoked and cured bacon, house-made pimento cheese, barbecue and signature barbecue sauces. He’ll be a featured pitmaster at this year’s Rock N’ Ribs Music and BBQ Fest, set for Oct. 14-15 at Coligny Plaza.

Chef Chris Williams owns Roy’s Grille in Lexington, South Carolina, a barbecue haven that operates out of an Exxon gas station on 711 W. Main St. His menu boasts melt-in-your-mouth smoked brisket, hickory-smoked bacon, pulled pork, blackened chicken and five signature sauces. His pitmaster prowess has garnered prestigious media coverage and multiple five-star online ratings, including one reviewer’s rave about Williams’s homemade mac-n-cheese that says it tastes “right off a Southern grandma’s kitchen table.” 

Williams will be one of the featured chefs at this year’s Rock N’ Ribs Music and BBQ Fest, a classic rock n’ roll weekend celebrating barbecue, the people who make it and the people who eat it. It takes place on Friday, October 14, and Saturday, October 15, at Coligny Plaza on Hilton Head Island.

But, what Williams loves most is serving up smiles. “Food bridges all gaps,” says Williams. “It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white. Doesn’t matter if you’re purple. No matter your religion, your race, your creed, where you’re from, everybody needs to eat, and everybody appreciates good food.”

Williams’s hearty, home-cooked meals are honed from humble beginnings. He learned how to “turn a little into a lot” from his mother and grandmother, who did just that in his hometown of Olar, South Carolina, where they planted and harvested their own fruits and vegetables and, at times, took to raising their own livestock. Williams cultivated a taste for fresh ingredients, and he makes his own barbecue sauces, spice rubs and many menu items from scratch, in-house. Williams says no corners are cut, and no expense is spared in the execution of the culinary artistry that goes on at Roy’s Grille, which was founded in 2014 and named in honor of his late grandfather, Leroy Carter.

Barbecue pointers from Chris Williams

  • You can always add seasoning, but once it’s in there, you can’t take it out. Use a little at a time. 
  • Barbecue is meant to be cooked low and slow. 
  • There’s always more than one way to skin a cat, so always be confident in your abilities. 
  • The better your rub is, the better your barbecue will be. 
  • If it needs sauce, it’s not good barbecue. The sauce is a complement, not a requirement.

Roy’s Grille – Barbecue rub 


  • 1 cup granulated garlic
  • 1 cup granulated onion
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup paprika
  • 1 cup ground oregano
  • 1 cup ground thyme
  • 1/2 cup nutmeg

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container or keep in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag.

Chef Ambassador: Chris Williams was one of three chefs named South Carolina Chef Ambassadors for 2022 by the SC Department of Agriculture. The ambassador program was created in 2014 to highlight South Carolina as a top culinary destination.

Hot Ticket: Rock N’ Ribs VIP 

Enjoy all-you-can-eat barbecue from top pitmasters from across the southeast at Rock N’ Ribs Music & BBQ Fest, set for Oct. 14-15 at Coligny Plaza. Pitmasters scheduled to appear include James Beard finalist Kevin Gillespie (Revival; Decatur, Georgia), Anthony DiBernardo (Swig & Swine, Charleston), Chris Williams (Roy’s Grille, Lexington), Pete Blohme (Panini Pete’s; Mobile, Alabama) and Judd and Kate Foster (South of Heaven BBQ; Brunswick, Georgia). 

VIP tickets ($349) include

  • Access to and participation in Friday’s Pitmaster Beach Triathlon, Celebrity Chef Dinner with James Beard finalist Kevin Gillespie and private concert with Grammy award-winning musician Angie Aparo.
  • Saturday early event admission and food from noon-4 p.m., including music by Cranford Hollow and Blues Traveler.
  • Front stage VIP lounge and dining area, inclusive VIP bar and libations.
  • Branded swag
  • Private restroom

Pitmaster 1-day VIP Tickets (Oct. 15, $249) include

  • Saturday early event admission and food from 12-4 p.m. including music by Cranford Hollow and Blues Traveler
  • Front stage VIP lounge and dining area, inclusive VIP Bar, Branded swag
  • Unlimited barbecue from nationally recognized pitmasters!

Tickets: rocknribshhi.com

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