The Bar-B-Q Queen comes from a family with a long tradition of cooking. Her first introduction to cooking was at her grandmother’s house. Her grandparents had moved from Georgia to a wooden house in Safety Harbor, Florida, and brought the Southern Soul Food tradition with them.
At 4:00 AM every morning Grandmother made biscuits and fatback for everyone. Her grandmother’s lemon pies, sweet potato pies and other treats were Phillis’ inspiration for her own delicious cakes and pies.
Phillis’ mother, called Sister Rayner, was the Bar-B-Q Diva. It started with family cookouts in the front yard. Sister Rayner barbecued, and Phillis’ aunt made the potato salad and other sides. That’s when the basic recipe for the barbecue sauce was developed too, just regular and hot then. Sister Rayner started making barbecue in the church parking lot to help with the building fund. Once the church expansion was finished, she took the business to her back yard. People came from miles around, even as far as Plant City, for the Bar-B-Q Diva’s great ribs, chicken and sweet potato pies. Her husband built a pit in the wall of the carport and built a brick wall around it, but her dream was to move into a real building. Sadly, she died in 2001 without achieving that dream.
Phillis, the Bar-B-Q Queen, carried on her mother’s work. She started out cooking at home, then set up a tent on weekends at Highland Ave. in Clearwater. Her fame grew as people tried her barbecue, cakes and other goodies and spread the word around. Sometimes on a Saturday morning she could go out with 50 cakes and 30 pies, and sell out before the end of the day. Phillis added different flavors of barbecue sauce, all based on the original recipe. She experimented with new, different cakes and refined the recipes for barbecue, collard greens, baked beans and the rest.