“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right”

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Best BBQ Pitmasters


Best BBQ Pitmasters- Barbecue is having a long, extended moment and as a result, one can now find well prepared, slow-smoked meat in every state in the U.S.

And like chefs in the kitchen, pitmasters have risen to the ranks of international celebrities coming together for big smoked meat events upcoming Big Apple Barbecue.

Best BBQ Pitmasters- From old-school barbecue families to new school barbecue geeks, here are some of the great pitmasters you need to know.

Humans being smart, the first thing they probably did after discovering fire was to throw some meat over it.

So America may not be the birthplace of barbecue.

It’s just the place where barbecue become perfect.

Best BBQ Pitmasters- A handful of people have shaped American barbecue into what it is today.

They’ve elevated our primordial instinct into something amazing, and they’re in a class of their own.

Best BBQ Pitmaster – Here are some of the most influential pitmasters and BBQ personalities in the country.

best-bbq-pitmasters-Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue

Best BBQ Pitmasters – Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue

He’s the owner and pitmaster of Austin’s Franklin Barbecue – probably the most famous everyman restaurant in the country, and most definitely the most famous BBQ joint – and this year he became the first pitmaster to take home the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest.

The achievement legitimized American barbecue as a distinctive culinary category.

From humble beginnings at a simple stand on the side of an interstate in Austin Texas in 2009, to teaching a Master Class on the topic of barbecue, Aaron and his wife Stacy have become the epitome of Pitmaster perfection. 

They have won almost every major barbecue award from Texas Monthly’s Best Barbecue Joint in Texas to the James Beard Foundation Award For Best Chef: Southwest.

Despite growing exponentially since 2009, Franklin Barbecue continues to sell out every day it is open. 

Myron Mixon

Best BBQ Pitmasters – Myron Mixon

Myron Mixon is an American celebrity chef and competitor on the competitive barbecue circuit.

He is a five time barbecue World Champion and appeared as a judge on Destination America reality television show BBQ Pitmasters.

He also appeared as a judge on the bbq show Smoked as well as the show BBQ Pit Wars.

A competitor-turned-judge on BBQ Pitmasters and author of the popular cookbooks Smokin’ with Myron Mixon and Everyday Barbecue:

At Home with America’s Favorite Pitmaster, Mixon is generally considered “the winningest man in barbecue.”

The more than 180 grand championships and 1,700 BBQ trophies he’s won as chief cook of Jack’s Old South Competition Bar-B-Que Team have something to do with that.

best-bbq-pitmasters-Mike and Amy Mills

Mike and Amy Mills, 17th Street Barbecue and Memphis Championship Barbecue

Mike Mills is “The Legend” – a four-time World Champion and three-time Grand World Champion of Memphis in May, Grand Champion of the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest, a Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee and the recipient of a host of other accolades.

Amy Mills, Mike’s daughter, is a respected barbecue industry professional in her own right with her consulting company, OnCue Consulting.

Together, the Millses co-authored the James Beard Award-nominated book Peace, Love and Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies.

Their 17th Street Barbecue restaurants are local favorites and must-visit Illinois eateries.

Best BBQ Pitmasters – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

Lilly is the only five-time champion of the Memphis in May BBQ cook-off – aka the “Super Bowl of Swine” – and the author of Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets From a Legendary Barbecue Joint.

The title is no joke: The Alabama BBQ joint is considered one of the most important and most influential in America.

Chris Lilly is the Pitmaster at the renowned Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur Alabama, a restaurant that was founded in 1925.

Ever since he went to his first barbecue shack as a kid with his dad, Chris has had the barbecue bug. 

He has won fifteen World BBQ Championships along with a long list of other awards and accolades.

Chris has also been on Food Network for a number of years as a guest chef and is a celebrity judge at many events. 


Best BBQ Pitmasters – Tootsie Tomanetz

Norma Frances “Tootsie” Tomanetz is an American barbecue cook who is the pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas.

In 2008, she rose to fame when Texas Monthly named Snow’s as the best barbecue place in Texas and she is often referred to as the “Queen of Texas BBQ

At Snow’s Barbecue in Lexington, Texas, you will find an 85 year old Tootsie shoveling hot coals, basting different slabs of meat and perfecting the art of the Pitmaster. 

Tootsie has been sweating over the fires for over fifty years now, and with the hectic bustle of daily life, Tootsie takes solace in her craft and how it brings folks back together. 


Melissa Cookston, Memphis BBQ Co.

Cookston is not only the winningest woman in barbecue, she’s one of the winningest barbecue cooks overall.

A two-time grand champion at Memphis in May, she owns three Memphis BBQ Co. restaurants (a fourth is in the works), with 300 employees and $10-15 million in annual revenue.

The only person to win the World Hog Championship three years in a row, she’s the author of Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room: Southern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue. Simply put, she’s smokin’ hot.

Melissa Cookston is owner of Memphis Barbecue Co in Mississippi and Georgia, is the author of two cookbooks and has made many television appearances including being on the Food Network.

Her barbeque is dubbed as the best on the planet and she has a right to make such a claim as she is a seven-time world barbecue champion. 

Melissa began her barbecue journey in 1996 with her husband Pete.

They entered into local competitions before quitting their jobs and opening their first restaurant in 2011.

Melissa is also the only female World BBQ Champion, an honor that she holds very highly.


Best BBQ Pitmasters – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

Trigg, better known as the Godfather of BBQ, is unquestionably a living legend on the competition barbecue circuit, driving thousands of miles and cooking dozens of contests each year since 1990.

The “Godfather of Barbecue” and his competition team Smokin’ Triggers, comprised of himself and his wife, Trish, is the only two-time Grand Champion of the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational.

Trigg is a mainstay on BBQ Pitmasters and an inductee into the National Barbecue Hall of Fame.

He’s been called “the New England Patriots of barbecuing.”


Best BBQ Pitmasters – Daniel Vaughn, TMBBQ

There is no more important resource for all things barbecue than Texas Monthly and its multiplatform, all-barbecue accompaniment, TMBBQ –  and barbecue editor and perennial Texas ‘cue tastemaker Daniel Vaughn’s position there is hard-earned and well-deserved.

He is the only barbecue editor in the country and the only full-time barbecue editor in American history.

Basically an encyclopedia of barbecue, Vaughn joins the stellar Texas Monthly food editorial team for what is, hands-down, the best barbecue coverage in the country. (It’s just too bad for the rest of us that they’re only in Texas and not national.)


Elliott Moss, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Asheville, North Carolina

Elliott Moss is not your typical pitmaster.

The two-time James Beard Foundation nominee cut his teeth in elevated New American restaurants, like The Whig in Columbia, South Carolina and The Admiral in Asheville, NC, and a long term stint at Chik-fil-a, before opening his cheffy barbecue joint in Asheville’s hip South Slope. Moss’s sustainable-focused restaurant — yes, his hogs are pasture-raised — in the far west corner of the Tar Heel State specializes in Eastern South Carolina whole hog with a peppery vinegar sauce just like his grandparents used to make.

Moss pairs it with elevated riffs on traditional sides, like green beans cooked under the pig, and one of the best smoked-then-fried chicken sandwiches in the country.

Since opening Buxton Hall in 2015,

Moss has been hailed well beyond the tight knit barbecue community, taking home a slot on Bon Appetit’s “10 Best New Restaurants for 2016” and landing a spot on Southern Living’s Best Restaurants list for 2016.

Rodney Scott, Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston, South Carolina

Rodney Scott, Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston, South Carolina

Rodney Scott cooked his first whole hog when he was just 11 years old. His family opened Scott’s Variety, a convenience store in Hemingway, South Carolina on the side of the old highway that ran through town, when Rodney was just one year old.

On Thursdays, they smoked whole hogs on homemade pits behind the store, attracting hoards of locals and visitors from as far away as Charleston, 90 miles south.

By the mid-1980s, it was clear that one day a week was not enough to feed all of the ‘cue fanatics looking for a taste of smoky chopped pork.

The family began smoking hogs two days a week, then three, eventually they added a fourth day.

Just last year, Rodney branched out on his own, opening Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston, SC.

There, he uses hardwood to smoke 180 pound pigs, butterflied, mopped with his own peppery-vinegar sauce, as well as ribs coated with a special rub, pit-cooked chicken and a handful of other dishes.

Scott’s traditional ‘cue has earned him acclaim across the globe. Rock star southern chef, Sean Brock, has even said Scott’s restaurant is his “most favorite place to eat in the entire world.”


Pat Martin, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Nashville, Tennessee

Martin is on a mission: he’s trying to save West Tennessee whole hog barbecue from extinction. B

efore moving to Nashville, Martin learned the science of West Tennessee whole hog in the tiny town of Henderson, Tennessee. When Martin first discovered the style, there were 12 traditional barbecue joints in the town.

Now there are two, he says. At his namesake restaurant, Martin smokes 190 to 200 pound hogs over wood for about 24 hours in open pits centered in the middle of the restaurants.

His succulent pork is basted with a sweet vinegar and tomato mop, pulled and served in a variety of forms.

The most iconic is the Redneck Taco, choice of meat served atop a cornbread hoecake with slaw and sauce, an homage to Nashville’s barbecue/hoecake tradition.

With six Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint locations spread throughout Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky, it seems Martin is succeeding in his mission of spreading the whole hog gospel.

The restaurants have been featured Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Conde Nast Traveler and Men’s Journal.

Best BBQ Pitmasters – Four Time World Barbecue Champion

As a four-time world barbecue champion, Myron Mixon is the winningest man in barbecue.

The chief cook of the Jack’s Old South Competition Bar-B-Que Team, the Mayor of Unadilla, GA, and Chef/Partner in Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ in Old Town, Alexander, VA; Miami, FL; and Hoboken, NJ.

Myron competed in his first competition in Augusta, Georgia, in 1996, where he took first place in whole hog, first place in pork ribs, and third in pork shoulder. Since then, he’s won more barbecue competitions than anyone else in the world.

He’s won over 200 grand championships resulting in over 1,800 total trophies, 30 state championships, 8 Team of the Year awards, and 11 national championships.

Myron’s team has taken three first place whole hogs at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbeque Competition; has been the Grand Champion at the World Championship in Memphis three times: 2001, 2004 and 2007; and, has also taken first place in the Whole Hog category at the World Championship in: 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007.

And, his team is the only team to win Grand Championships in Memphis in May, Kansas City BBQ Society, and Florida BBQ Association in the same year. In 2013, he was inducted into the Barbecue Hall Fame in Kansas City.

In 2018, he was awarded the Carolyn and 

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