The X Factor
KC’s saucy pitmasters have been stoking the fires for almost 40 years
Photo by: Christopher Smith – Netflix
We continue our spotlight on extraordinary women reshaping our industry, with Kansas City’s Deborah Jones and sister Mary Jones Mosley, two of the country’s most-notable female pitmasters. Fresh off a transformative makeover on Netflix’s “Queer Eye” series, they share highlights of their long, storied career.
Barbecue began when the sisters were so small their father set them up on milk crates to look at his bustling operation. There, they learned his secrets for barbecuing meats and sausages to perfection.
“I don’t use thermometers or rubs, just concentration and focus,” says Deborah.
For almost four decades, the sisters have prepped and smoked exactly as their father taught them. What has changed is their lives since the “Queer Eye” makeover.
The “Fab Five’s” promise to take them to the next level in season three of their celebrated show was profoundly realized. The team put Jones Bar-B-Q on the map in refurbished digs, decked out the sisters in new outfits, hairstyles and even new teeth for Mary, and set them up with a company to bottle their signature barbecue sauce.
“Business was good before, but since the show, it’s been overwhelming,” marvels Deborah
This is, by no means, an exaggeration. Within a week after the March Netflix debut, 11,000 bottles of their sauce—with never-to-be-revealed secret ingredients—were sold, with orders still flowing in. Customers slather it on everything from eggs to chicken nuggets, and “it makes the best Bloody Mary base in the world,” adds Mary.
Customers are flocking in larger numbers than ever to their KC locale, a phenomenon Mary refers to as her “family growing.”
“All customers are part of our family. Daddy always said ‘take care of your customers because without them, there is no you.’ Everyone feels the love when they’re here,” says Mary.
They’re happy when they leave, too, having feasted on the Jones’ classic rib tips, sausage links and burnt ends with a side of baked beans. In development now are a limited edition coconut barbecue sauce and a Fab Five menu special, in gratitude.
“They changed my life tremendously … giving me back my smile and my spark for life,” reveals Mary.
Deborah says: “They convinced me to take ‘Debby time,’ and I would never have considered that before.”
Indeed, the sisters routinely put in long, hard-working days, starting at 4 a.m. Although now she considers barbecue an art, it was originally taught to them as another skill for self-sufficiency, “like cutting grass.”
The independent spirit inspired by their dad still resonates.
“We have never been intimidated by men, and we know other women pitmasters who are doing quite well,” says Mary.
“Move over men, we’re not going anywhere!”