Pitmaster LT’s barbecue sauces and dry rubs are the creations of Luther “LT” Tooks – a Vietnam War era drafted veteran of the U.S. Army, longtime Kansas City Area resident, and former barbecue restaurateur and pitmaster.
The creator of the brand, Luther “LT” Tooks, was born into poverty in the Altgeld Gardens public housing projects on Chicago’s South Side. After years of growing up in tough, low-income Chicago neighborhoods – the last of which was the notorious Cabrini Green housing projects – Luther left Chicago after his high school freshman year to live with his paternal grandparents in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was there that he finished high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Philander Smith College, becoming the first college graduate in his family. Upon graduation, he was hired by IBM. However, just four months later, he was drafted into the U.S. Army at the height of the Vietnam War. Somewhat miraculously, though, instead of being deployed to the war like most, he was assigned to serve in the Netherlands as part of the Allied Forces of Central Europe.
After his honorable discharge from military service, Luther returned to IBM, choosing to relocate to its Memphis office. Being the noted BBQ town that Memphis is, Luther began trying the offerings of all manner of local Memphis barbecue joints, but he never found anything to his complete satisfaction. Consequently, he began experimenting with making his own barbecue sauce and seasonings. But it was not until IBM promoted him to a first level management position in its Kansas City office, and he experienced the style of barbecue endemic to that celebrated BBQ town, that he eventually perfected his secret recipes for barbecue sauces and dry rub seasonings.
Luther developed his sauces to be all natural (i.e., no high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives) and possess distinctively Kansas City-style taste and texture. But also to embody a confluence of flavors which, individually, are often the dominant flavors in different regional styles of barbecue sauce, rendering his sauces appealing to a broad variety of barbecue palates. And his dry rubs are crafted of premium ingredients, as opposed to containing typical rub filler ingredients like an abundance of salt or sugar.
Upon retiring from IBM, Luther used his sauce and rub creations, as well as his know-how in wood smoking techniques, to open and operate a barbecue restaurant (“LT’s Finest BBQ”) in suburban Lenexa, Kansas, in the 1990s. To this day, many that patronized his restaurant say that his was the best barbecue served in Kansas City. Nevertheless, poor location visibility eventually led Luther to close the restaurant and return to the corporate world.
Then, after a second retirement as an office solutions sales rep and manager for a local owned company, in 2016, Luther launched the Pitmaster LT’s brand of BBQ sauces and dry rubs to share his barbecue creations in the retail space. Initially, Pitmaster LT’s products were accepted by local and regional supermarket chains, like Hy-Vee and Price Chopper, but by 2019, they were being welcomed into regional themes of national supermarket chains like Kroger, Albertsons, and Whole Foods Market. Now, in 2020, Pitmaster LT’s is gaining traction in Canada, including with highly respected supermarket themes like Longo’s and Whole Foods Market, and Luther’s brand is even beginning to expand into overseas markets in Europe and the Middle East.