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The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 8: Competition BBQ Pitmaster

Today we continue the countdown to the Most Influential Person in BBQ with the 8th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 8th Most Influential Person in BBQ is the Competition BBQ Pitmaster.

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On nearly every Thursday of the year in spots from coast-to-coast countless numbers of pitmasters are trimming meat, mixing their secret injections, sauces and rub concoctions, and hitting the road for a weekend of barbecue and fellowship and the hopes of hearing their name called last at the awards ceremony. This ever growing list of weekend barbecue warriors wields an enormous amount of influence over the world of barbecue. Their far reaching influence touches many industries inside and outside of barbecue including commercial sauces & rub producers, smoker & grill manufactures, cooler makers, knife & tool brands, and of course beer brewers and whisky distillers to name a few.   

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The existence and health of barbecue contest across the country are at the mercy of the competition pitmaster as the overwhelming majority of contests live and die by the number of pitmasters who choose to cook a particular contest. Contests that have attained legendary status  have often come by that status through the word and mouth of pitmasters communicating to other pitmasters. Their influence can also be felt as they share their knowledge to first time competition pitmasters – if one thing is certain it is that these masters of the pit are eager to share their love of BBQ with the next generation of pitmasters. 

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Many competition pitmasters have dipped their toes into a number of facets of barbecue, including restaurants, sauces and rubs and cookbooks, which have helped to increase their influence. Perhaps the greatest area of influence that many of the thousands of competition pitmasters have is in their communities where their kindness and generosity help raise money for charities and feed those in need through groups like the Illinois Barbeque Alliance and Operation BBQ Relief.   

As the popularity of BBQ, and specifically competition BBQ, grows, these weekend BBQ warriors will continue to be some of the most influential people in the BBQ.

On December 25th we’ll unveil the 7th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 9th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

9th – Mike Mills, 17th Street Bar & Grill & Apple City BBQ

10th – Stan Hays, Operation BBQ Relief

11th – Steven Raichlen, Cookbook Author & TV Host

12th – Jamie Geer, Jambo Pits

13th – Dave Raymond, Sweet Baby Ray’s

14th – Aaron Franklin, Franklin BBQ

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 9: Mike Mills

Today we continue the countdown to the Most Influential Person in BBQ with the 9th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 9th Most Influential Person in BBQ is 17th Street Bar & Grill Owner, Pitmaster of the Apple City BBQ Team and author, Mike Mills.  

Mike Mills

Mike Mills and his Apple City BBQ team of the 1990’s were as dominate as the Ruth or Mantle led New York Yankees or the UCLA Bruin basketball teams of the 1960’s and 70’s. Mills and Apple City partner Pat Burke were among the first true stars of competition barbecue during a period of time that started to see the sports growth. It may be cliché to say, but Mills is among the original pioneers of the sport that paved the path for the many teams who now enjoy success and make a living from barbecue. 

Although less visible on the competition circuit today, by choice as he tends his many barbecue related ventures, it is hard to attend a barbecue competition and not hear Mills name come up more than a few times. 2013 could be viewed in the barbecue world much like 1994 was in the music world when the Eagles launched their Hell Freezes Over tour. This year Mills and Burke got the band back together and cooked their first Memphis in May in 18 years as well as cooking The Jack again for the first time in years.

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It’s not like Mills had taken an 18 year vacation, he was busy building one of the country’s most successful barbecue restaurant ventures, 17th Street Bar & Grill, with three locations in Illinois and its spinoff Memphis Championship Barbecue in Las Vegas, NV. Additionally he is the mastermind behind the duel MBN/KCBS sanctioned Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-Off which has become one of the few “Bucket List” barbecue contests that every team would like to cook at least once in their career.

Perhaps Mills proudest accomplishment in barbecue is sharing his love of all things barbecue with his daughter Amy. This father-daughter duo are the most influential father-daughter tandem in the world of barbecue. Their 2005 book Peace Love and Barbecue is one of the most acclaimed books ever written about barbecue and contains an excellent collection of recipes and barbecue stores (you be the judge if their fact or fiction). Their family barbecue empire also includes Oncue Consulting, which offers a wide array of courses on the business of barbecue including classes on starting your own barbecue restaurant and how to master catering.

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Mike Mills is a legend of barbecue, having won multiple titles at Memphis in May and too many other awards to count, but he is also one of the most influential people in BBQ. He has influenced the world of barbecue for many years and it doesn’t look like he plans to slow down anytime soon.

On December 24th we’ll unveil the 8th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 10th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

10th – Stan Hays, Operation BBQ Relief

11th – Steven Raichlen, Cookbook Author & TV Host

12th – Jamie Geer, Jambo Pits

13th – Dave Raymond, Sweet Baby Ray’s

14th – Aaron Franklin, Franklin BBQ

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 10: Stan Hays

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 11th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 11th Most Influential Person in BBQ is co-founder of Operation BBQ Relief, Stan Hays.

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Stan Hays isn’t a household name to most outside the BBQ community and even if you asked a sampling of folks within the BBQ community you might get a fair number of blank stares. What Hays lacks in name identity he makes up for in impact on America’s communities that find themselves in need after devastating disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes. Hays is Co-founder and Executive Director of Operation BBQ Relief, better known as OBR. Operation BBQ Relief is a 501(c)3 organization founded in May 2011 in response to the devastation a multi-vortex EF5 tornado brought upon Joplin, Missouri. The tornado left a path of destruction six miles long and over half a mile wide and is on the records as the second deadliest tornado in U.S. history with more than 140 people being killed.   

OBR

 

Hays, pitmaster of County Line Smokers, joined forces with Jeff Stith of Big Creek BBQ and Will Cleaver of Sticks N Chicks BBQ, called upon fellow competition BBQ teams to help feed  displaced families and emergency personnel responding to the tragedy. In less than two weeks, Hays and the teams he had organized served over 120,000 meals. Since it was founded in May 2011, OBR has responded to the nations worst natural disasters including  Hurricane Sandy and the Moore, OK tornadoes.

We are big supports of OBR and think it is important to share their Vision, Mission and Values with you:

Our Vision:

The vision of Operation BBQ Relief is that all people involved in relief efforts during natural disasters will understand the true meaning of compassion for those who have lost possessions and loved ones and that they will further utilize all of their God-given skills and abilities to better the lives of those affected.

Our Mission:

The mission of Operation BBQ Relief is to provide compassion and to offer hope and friendship to those whose lives have been affected by natural disasters across the United States through our expertise in cooking and catering barbecue meals and our ability to quickly mobilize our teams into any area where nature disrupts and tears apart the lives of Americans.

Our Values:

We value honesty, compassion, friendship, hard work and respect for others and for resources with which we are provided. Decisions and actions of Operation BBQ Relief will always be made and carried out with these values in mind. We want the communities we serve to be able to state without reservation that Operation BBQ Relief upheld these values while making a positive impact in the lives of their citizens.

With Hays as their leader, Operation BBQ Relief has impacted the lives of millions of Americans when they were in their most vulnerable state. The sight of a warm plate of BBQ won’t bring back a lost family member or a destroyed house, but it does allow for the grieving to understand they aren’t alone and know that things will improve. We’re sure Hays himself hopes that his influence wains over time with less need for OBR’s relief efforts, but knowing that each year will bring new tragedies we’re happy to know that Hays and his OBR team will be among the first on the scene serving meals and handing out hugs and encouragement.  

If you would like to donate to OBR please click here.  

On December 23rd we’ll unveil the 9th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 11th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

11th – Steven Raichlen, Cookbook Author & TV Host

12th – Jamie Geer, Jambo Pits

13th – Dave Raymond, Sweet Baby Ray’s

14th – Aaron Franklin, Franklin BBQ

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 11: Steven Raichlen

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 11th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 11th Most Influential Person in BBQ is cookbook author, host of TV’s Primal Grill and dean of Barbecue University, Steven Raichlen

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Raichlen is the most prolific author of BBQ themed cookbooks and one of the most prolific hosts of BBQ themed cooking shows. His influence on the backyard BBQer can’t be understated as his books have been purchased by millions of readers and his shows have been watched by millions of viewers. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Raichlen’s efforts is to educate the American pitmaster and grillmaster on the art of BBQ as it is practiced around the world. His book Planet Barbecue and television show Primal Grill focuses on live fire cooking methods, tips and recipes from around the world. 

 

Planet BBQ

Raicheln has educated hundreds of students at his very popular Barbecue University, which just announced it’s 2014 dates at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, CO. He also has a very successful line of commercial BBQ products that range from sauces and rubs to grill brushes and knives. As long as Raicheln is writing books, hosting cooking shows and teaching BBQ classes he will continue to be one of BBQ’s most influential people. 

On December 22nd we’ll unveil the 10th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 12th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

12th – Jamie Geer, Jambo Pits

13th – Dave Raymond, Sweet Baby Ray’s

14th – Aaron Franklin, Franklin BBQ

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 12: Jamie Geer

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 12th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 12th Most Influential Person in BBQ is the owner of Jambo Pits, Jamie Geer.

Jambo

Weber’s may make the most owned BBQ grills and smokers in America, but no one makes a more sought after pit than master pitmaker Jamie Geer. Geer’s Jambo Pits are known for both their beauty and performance and are used by many of America’s top pitmasters, including Tuffy Stone, Rod Gray, Johnny Trigg, & Darren Warth, and can lay claim to many of the sports biggest Grand Championships, including The Jack, The American Royal Invitaitonal, and The American Royal Open. There is no question that in recent years, Geer is the most influential name in the world of smokers and pits in America. Look no further than the number of pitmasters turning to Geer when they are looking for a new pit and the number of competitors creating pits that, if not for a second look you might mistake for a Geer pit.

Geer has also made a name for himself on the BBQ competition circuit as a skilled and accomplished pitmaster and is a frequent participant on the ever growing list of BBQ themed television shows including a cast member on Season 1 of BBQ Pitmasters. In 2013 Geer opened up his first restaurant, Jambo’s BBQ Shack. It will be interesting to see if Geer can continue his influence in the area of smokers and grills in the years to come, our bet is that he will not only continue his influence, but he will increase it as more pitmasters turn to Jambo Pits. 

On December 21st we’ll unveil the 11th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 13th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

13th – Dave Raymond, Sweet Baby Ray’s

14th – Aaron Franklin, Franklin BBQ

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 13: Dave Raymond

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 13th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 13th Most Influential Person in BBQ is co-founder of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce and owner of Sweet Baby Ray’s Restaurants, Dave Raymond.

Dave Raymond

Dave Raymond, better known to the world as Sweet Baby Ray, is the number one influencer in the world of BBQ Sauce. Sweet Baby Ray’s is far and away the best selling BBQ Sauce in America and can be found in millions of refrigerators around the world. Hundreds, if not thousands of start up BBQ sauce company’s, like ourselves, dream of one day being the household name that Sweet Baby Ray’s has become. The cool thing is a few of those start ups might reach that goal in large part to the generousness of Sweet Baby Ray. There are countless sauce entrepreneurs out there that Dave has sat down with to share his wit and wisdom about the sauce business. For those lucky enough to have had Dave’s mentorship it would be akin to Babe Ruth teaching you how to hit a home run. 

Sweet Baby

In addition to creating the world’s best selling BBQ Sauce Dave runs a chain of very successful Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue restaurants in Chicago. I can vouch from personal experience that there is some great BBQ being served day in and day out at Dave’s restaurants. In addition to sharing his knowledge of the sauce business, there are quite a few successful and up and coming BBQ restaurants out there that have benefited from Dave’s mentorship. It is clear that Dave’s influence in the sauce world has influenced the dinning habits of millions of Americans, but more important to Dave is how his influence has influenced the hundreds of people he’s been able to share his knowledge and wisdom with.

In addition to be generous with his time to fellow BBQ’ers, Dave is generous with his time in the community. He is co-founder of the Illinois BBQ Alliance, a group that raises money for and serves BBQ to folks in need in the community. There work has included feeding thousands of folks in need after natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes, including the recent tornadoes in Illinois. If you’d like to donate please click here

Dave’s influence on BBQ is vast and will continue to grow as he continues to pay it forward and ask those he helps to do the same when their time comes to pass their knowledge along to the next generation of BBQ’ers.

On December 20th we’ll unveil the 12th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 14th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ. 

14th – Aaron Franklin, Franklin BBQ

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 14: Aaron Franklin

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 14th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 14th Most Influential Person in BBQ is pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX, Aaron Franklin. 

Aaron Frnaklin

Aaron Franklin is in a league all by himself when it comes to accolades being showered upon a BBQ restaurant. You name the publication, from Bon Apetit to Texas Monthly to Food & Wine to the New York Times) and Franklin’s Franklin Barbecue has probably been heralded as one of the top BBQ joints in America, if not the top BBQ joint in America. If you want to talk about influence over eating, Franklin has so much influence over the taste buds of his customers that they will wait in line for hours in hopes that they arrived early enough to reach the meat counter before the SOLD OUT sign goes up on the door. Perhaps the most remarkable part of this success story is that Franklin opened his restaurant in 2009 and obtained his status as one of BBQ’s few celebrity chefs in only a few years.

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Franklin gained even more notoriety on Destination America’s hit TV show BBQ Pitmasters, where he joined Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone as a judge. Franklin opted to retire as a full-time judge on BBQ Pitmasters in 2013 to focus more on his restaurant and other projects. We can’t wait to see what Franklin’s next project will be, but we’re certain he will continue to influence the world of BBQ restaurants like no one else to the point where they have been elevated to and compared to fine dinning establishments.  

On December 19th we’ll unveil the 13th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 15th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

15th – Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson BBQ

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 15: Chris Lilly

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 15th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 15th Most Influential Person in BBQ is pitmaster and owner of Big Bob Gibson BBQ and spokesman for Kingsford Charcoal, Chris Lilly.

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Chris Lilly’s Big Bob Gibson BBQ has one of the most famous and enduring pedigree’s in the world of BBQ. Founded in 1925, this BBQ joint has one claim to fame that I’m not sure any other BBQ joint out there can make, they invented their own style of BBQ sauce – the world famous White BBQ Sauce. Lilly might have inherited a BBQ juggernaut, but he certainly hasn’t coasted on its coattails. He’s added his own chapter to the Big Bob Gibson legacy, and it’s a chapter as thick with honors and influence as any other chapter in the institutions 4 generation history.

Lilly’s influence spans many facets of BBQ including competition BBQ, restaurants, cookbooks, TV personality, product spokesman and retail products. On the competition circuit there has been no pitmaster with more success at Memphis in May in the Pork category. Lilly is a three time Memphis in May Grand Champion and seven time winner of the Pork category. Other competition accolades include Grand Champion of the American Royal Invitational, Reserve Grand Champion of the Jack, winner of the inaugural King of the Smoker and first place ribs at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo World Championships. Lilly also has an award winning line of BBQ Sauces and spice rubs that are found in retailers throughout the country. In 2009 Lilly wrote his first cookbook, The Big Bob Gibson BBQ Book – one of the best BBQ cookbooks to come out in recent memory.

Big Bob

Perhaps Lilly’s biggest influence on BBQ comes as spokesman for one of the two biggest names in BBQ, Kingsford Charcoal. Through his relationship with Kingsford Lilly uses his platform to educate BBQers on not just the merits of using Kingsford, but also on the traditions of BBQ, helping to create more and more BBQ lovers throughout the United States and world. Lilly is also a frequent competitor and judge on BBQ themed TV shows like BBQ Pitmasters and Best in Smoke. When it comes to influence Lilly dips his toes into many facets of BBQ and is working hard everyday to spread his love of BBQ throughout the country.

On December 18th we’ll unveil the 14th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 16th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

16th – Sterling Ball, Big Poppa Smokers

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 16: Sterling Ball

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 16th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 16th Most Influential Person in BBQ is pitmaster and founder of Big Poppa Smokers, Sterling Ball.

Sterling Ball

For most of us, it would be a major accomplishment to be on one list of Most Influential People, but Sterling Ball, who comes in at number 16 on our list of the Most Influential People in BBQ might just find himself on a similar list in the music industry as head of Ernie Ball guitar strings. The fact is you probably wouldn’t have found Sterling on this list a couple of years ago, but there is no faster mover in today’s BBQ world than Sterling Ball. As a relative newcomer to the world of BBQ, Ball can already claim one of the sports most prestigious titles – American Royal Invitational Champion, that goes well with his dozens of other calls. Ball doesn’t make our list for his competition success however. He sits at number 16 because of his innovative nature and desire to change the landscape of competition BBQ.

King of the Smoker

In 2012 Ball launched the inaugural King of the Smoker contests that pitted 24 of the nations top competition teams on perhaps the most level playing field of any contest. Each team is required to cook the same meat, use no garnish (that probably doesn’t upset them!), and are allowed no electricity to assist in their cook. With a generous prize purse, unparalleled hospitality and accommodations at one of America’s premier resorts, King of the Smoker, in only it’s second year is already being called the best competition in BBQ by the lucky teams who’ve been invited to compete. Perhaps the coolest part of the King of the Smoker concept is Ball’s desire to get the public involved and excited about BBQ by asking the competition teams to provide an education seminar on topics ranging from pits, to chicken cooking to injections & marinades. 

In addition to hosting the King of the Smoker contest Ball and his Online BBQ Supply Store, Big Poppa Smokers, formed the BPS Elite Team program in 2013 to raise money for children’s charities. In his spare time he has developed a line of championship rubs that many of the nations top teams are turning to in hopes of securing the ever harder to obtain GC’s, RGC’s and 1st place category calls. We’re big fans of the Jalleluja Seasoned Jalapeno Salt. We’ll be interesting to see what Ball has up his sleeve next.

On December 17th we’ll unveil the 15th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 17th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

17th – Rod Gray, Pellet Envy & Eat Barbecue

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on December 31, 2013 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.

 

The 25 Most Influential People in BBQ – Number 17: Rod Gray

Today we continue the countdown of the Most Influential People in BBQ with the 17th most influential person in BBQ. Coming in as the 17th Most Influential Person in BBQ is pitmaster of Pellet Envy and founder of Eat Barbecue, Rod Gray.

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There may not be a harder working person in barbecue than Rod Gray. Rod is one of the few people in barbecue that make their living competing on the professional competition BBQ circuit through contest winnings and team sponsorship’s. There is no telling how many miles a year Rod puts on his truck as he zigs and zags his way across the United States from Coast to Coast. The one thing that we can tell is that you can only rely on competition BBQ as your profession if you are more than good, you’ve got to be among the best.

Gray is without question one of the best in the world of competition BBQ. Pellet Envy is the winningest team in competition BBQ since 2006. His accomplishments include being named the 2009 Kansas City Barbeque Society Team of the Year, Grand Champion of the 2013 season of BBQ Pitmasters and winner of the 2012 BBQ Pitmasters Kansas City Episode, and 55 Grand Championships since 2002.

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No single individual in competition BBQ has played a more influential role in the world of barbecue education than Rod Gray. His acclaimed Pellet Envy School of Competition BBQ sales out as fast as a Beatles Reunion Tour would. There are hundreds if not thousands of Rod’s students across the country who have taken the fundamentals learned in a Pellet Envy class and turned them into their own GC’s and first place category calls. The item that set Rod’s class apart from other classes from the start is that he was the first to walk his students step by step through his entire competition cooking process.

In 2012 Gray introduced a line of BBQ Sauce and Spice Rub called Eat Barbecue that have proven to be very successful in competition use during the 2013 season.

On December 16th we’ll unveil the 16th most influential person in BBQ. We’ll unveil a new member of our Most Influential Person in BBQ List each day through the end of the year and we’ll crown The Most Influential Person in BBQ on Tuesday, December 31st.

To date we’ve previously unveiled the 18th through the 25th Most Influential People in BBQ.

18th – Brad Orrison, The Shed

19th – Johnny Trigg, Smokin’ Triggers

20th – Danielle Dimovski, BBQ Crawl & Diva Q

21st – Bill Arnold, Blues Hog Barbecue Company

22nd – Competition BBQ Judge

23rd – Melissa Cookston, Memphis Barbecue Co. & Yazoo’s Delta Q

24th – Adam Perry Lang, Daisy May’s BBQ, Barbecoa & Cookbook Author

25th – Ronnie Cates, Smoke on the Water Productions

Will you make the list? Will someone you find deserving fall short of the top 25? Will you disagree with someone listed in the top 25? Check the Pork Barrel BBQ Blog daily now through December 31 and contribute to the discussion by adding comments to each days post!

Who is the most Influential Person in BBQ? Find out on January 1, 2014 when we reveal the Most Influential Person in BBQ.