Category / Cook-Off


2015 Praise the Lard Cook-off Winners

One of the most anticipated competitions on the barbecue circuit, the Murphysboro Barbecue Cook-Off, hosted by 17th Street Barbecue, took place September 24-26. 71 teams from 17 states set up camp around the 17th Street Barbecue Warehouse. Over 200 Judges, volunteers and ambassadors traveled from 15 states. Named by Food & Wine magazine as one of America’s top 20 barbecue cities, Murphysboro and 17th Street Barbecue are prime barbecue destinations.CookOffWinners_AwardsCrowdCrowds gathered for awards and listened to music from Fiddler Rick and the Bourbon Boys.

CookOffWinners_AwardsTableWinning teams receive original trophies of one-of-a-kind hand blown glass apples crafted by the Douglass School Art Place in Murphysboro, exclusively commissioned for the event. The two Grand Champions each received a chainsaw-carved pig from Bear Tracks in Brownsville, Illinois. In addition to trophies and bragging rights, over $25,000 in prize money is awarded.

“Our contest is like a slice of pure Americana. This is our opportunity to showcase the very best of Murphysboro and Southern Illinois to a wonderful group of people from all over the world,” says Mike Mills, one of the event’s original founders. “This is a field of fierce competitors. If you can win here, you can win at Memphis in May or the American Royal. In fact, we have a number of World Grand Champions in this field.”

CookOffWinners_MikeOnStageMike starting off the awards ceremony by thanking the teams, judges, volunteers, 17th Street crew, and sponsors who make this production possible. It takes a village.

“The Cook-off is great for Murphysboro as a town,” Mills explained. “And the only reason we are here, 28 years later, is because of the generosity of the community. We want to thank the sponsors, whether they’re companies or individuals, competitors and all the volunteers. There are so many people that come together to make this all possible and create this special stop on the barbecue circuit.”

First up are the ancillary contest winners and special awards.

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceWingsTR’s Up In Smoke swept both the fish and wings contests on Thursday evening.

CookOffWinners_FishFryAbeWe were proud to present Abe Keene with a special volunteer award. Abe and his family have cooked the fish for our fish fry for over 20 years. Their support and friendship are immeasurable treasures.

CookOffWinners_GoldenTicketWinnerKari Luke won 1st place in the World Food Championships Dessert Super Qualifier with her strawberry pie.

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceKidsQueTownsend Spice Kids’ Que Grand Champions: You’ve Got The Wong Guy
Ava Wong and Madison Guy

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceBloodyBrews Brother’s Tap Room Bloody Mary Contest: Lisa Keller

CookOffWinners_AppleOfOurEyeApple of Our Eye: Wil-Be-Que

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceSteakOur First-Ever SCA Steak Cook-off Grand Champion: Joe Stump

2015 marked the eighth year of a dual-sanctioned event with teams cooking both the Memphis Barbecue Network and Kansas City Barbecue Society contests. Of the 71 competing teams, 14 were MBN sanctioned teams, 52 KCBS teams and 11 teams cooked in both categories.

Following are the Memphis Barbecue Network and Kansas City Barbecue Society category winners and Grand Champions.

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceRibs1MBN First Place Ribs: Sweet Swine O’ Mine

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceShoulderMBN 1st Place Shoulder: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceHogMBN 1st Place Hog: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_GrandChampion1MBN Grand Champion: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceChickenKCBS 1st Place Chicken: Posey County Cookers

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceRibs2KCBS 1st Place Ribs: Iowa Smokey D’s

CookOffWinners_FirstPlacePorkKCBS 1st Place Pork: Victory Lane

CookOffWinners_FirstPlaceBrisketKCBS 1st Place Brisket: Quau

CookOffWinners_ReserveGrandChampionKCBS Reserve Grand Champion: Q-Bones

CookOffWinners_GrandChampion2KCBS Grand Champion: Gil Taft of Gilly’s BBQ

CookOffWinners_WinnerOleHickoryPitMike Corso is the lucky winner of the Ole Hickory Pits Ace MM raffle.

Full results:

Memphis Barbecue Network
Grand Champion

Victory Lane BBQ
Pass Down: 3 Taxi Guys

5) Sweet Swine O’ Mine
4) Wil-Be-Que
2) Ninja Pigs
1)Sweet Swine O’ Mine

5) Moe Cason BBQ
4) Sweet Swine O’ Mine
3) Party Q
2) Wil-Be-Que
1) Victory Lane BBQ

5) Sweet Swine O’ Mine
4) Party Q
3) The Flying Pigs
2) 3 Taxi Guys
1) Victory Lane BBQ

Kansas City Barbecue Society
Grand Champion:
Gilly’s BBQ

Reserve Grand Champion:

9) Boss Hawg BBQ
8) 270 Smokers
7) Iowa Smokey D’s BBQ
6) Quau
5) Victory Lane BBQ
4) Uncle Kenny’s BBQ
3) A Boy and His BBQ
2) Fowl Butt BBQ
1) Posey County Cookers

10) Gilly’s BBQ
9) Carbondale Pork District
8) A Boy & His BBQ
7) One2bbq
5) Big O’ Dang O’
4) Q-Bones BBQ
3) KC Beer Smoke Shack
2) Wild Boar Smokers
1) Iowa Smokey D’s BBQ

10) One2bbq
9) Quau
8) Yellow River BBQ
7) Fowl Butt BBQ
6) Hickory Pit Stop
5) Q-Bones
4) 270 Smokers
3) Gilly’s BBQ
2) Backdraft BBQ
1) Victory Lane BBQ

10) Victory Lane BBQ
9) Two Butts and a Ham
8) RJ’s Bowtie BBQ
7) Q-Bones
6) The BBQ Sherpas
5) Gilly’s BBQ
4) Too Big to Fail BBQ
3) Bull Rush BBQ
2) Backdraft BBQ
1) Quau

KCBS Top 10 Overall
10) Uncle Kenny’s BBQ
9) Yellow River BBQ
8) 270 Smokers
7) Backdraft BBQ
6) A Boy & His BBQ
5) Quau
4) Victory Lane BBQ
3) Iowa Smokey D’s
2) Q-Bones
1) Gilly’s BBQ

Apple of Our Eye

Townsend Spice Kids’ Que
3rd Place Meat Head Maddie’s – John Voss and Madison Voss
2nd Place Backdraft BBQ – Ethan Grob
1st Place You’ve Got the Wong Guy – Ava Wong and Madison Guy

 World Food Championships Dessert Super Qualifier
3) Porkmafia
2) Blazin’ Blues BBQ
1) Sugarfire Smokehouse

SCA Steak Cook-off
10) Alex Schenck
9) Bryan Ropollo
8) Terry Reinhardt
7) Laura Butler
6) Jim Hughett
5) Kenny Nadeau
4) Jeff Ellison
3) Johnny Joseph
2) Ryan Grob
1) Joe Stump

Brews Brothers Taproom Best Bloody Mary
1) Lisa Keller
2) 3 Taxi Guys  

Fish Contest
1st Place: TR’s Up In Smoke
Wings Contest
1st Place: TR’s Up In Smoke

Mark your calendars NOW for 2016. It’s always the third weekend AFTER Labor Day, so next year’s dates are September 22-24, 2016.

Next week, we’ll publish photos and stories about the Kids’ Que, Steak Cook-off, and other events. Stay tuned!

Photos © Troy Brown.

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2014 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party Crew & Pitmasters

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters01And … one more catch-up post. We have the best pit crew on the planet. Love that our barbecue family joins up with us, too. Wayne Mueller, Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor Texas, and Barry Sorkin, of Smoque, in Chicago were a huge help.


BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters03THE PITMASTER Ed Mitchell, the North Carolina legend himself.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters04They don’t come any finer than Don McLemore of Big Bob Gibson.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters05Really proud of our protegé Billy Durney, of Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He was over the moon to be included in the 2014 line-up. This is his sweet daughter, Emma Rose.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters06Proudly representing the STL … long-time friend Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse with Mike and Phillip Heern.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters07I’m surrounded by brisket boys. Daniel Delaney of Delaney BBQ and Wayne Mueller.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters08Our pit boss, Phillip Heern, with Elizabeth Knight and Luke Ray of Ole Hickory Pits.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters09The crew. This is our core 17th Street pit crew ..

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters10… and this includes all of our volunteers. The best!

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters11John Hulslander, of Gator John’s BBQ in Ft. Myers, Florida, has attended a handful of our OnCue classes and he’s become a dear friend. Erik Hernandez is our pitmaster from Memphis Championship Barbecue, our Las Vegas operation. We couldn’t do it without them!

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters12Stevie Mitchell, brother of Ed Mitchell. Always a blessing to spend time with him.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters13These guys. Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville and more, and Sam Jones of Skylight Inn in Ayden, North Carolina. Barbecue family through and through.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters14Barry and Wayne are rib-cutting machines.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters15Tracy Heern, a supervisor at our Marion, Illinois restaurant, works alongside Wayne. This was her first trip to New York City.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters16Shelley Phillips, Tim Love, and me. Shelly and Tim are part of C3 Presents, the new owners of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters17Tracy and Barry are working with Randy Kane and David Bogan, amazing volunteers.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters18Phillip Lorelle of the Union Square Events kitchen joined up to learn more about working the pits. The Union Square Events kitchen also has an Ole Hickory Pit. They produce amazing food. Think about them if you need catering in New York City or the surrounding area!

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters19Shane Linn and his son, Lawson Linn, of Townsend Spice. The freshest kitchen spices and custom blenders of dry rubs. You should check them out.


BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters21Mike and Tim Love. Tim and I met several years ago when we were judges on the Food Network show Best in Smoke.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters22We supplied the ribs for the rib-bon cutting, signifying the opening of the celebration. That’s one of our custom R. Murphy Legend Series knives on the tray. You can buy a set here.

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters23Cheers to the start of the 2014 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party!

BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters24Danny Meyer, Mike, and Ed Mitchell have witnessed the tremendous growth of this party.


BlockParty_CrewAndPitmasters26Pit Crew, day two. Wardrobe change. The New Pork Times, reporting for duty.



The next generation. These pictures make me smile. Top: My children, Faye Landess and Woody, with Ryan Mitchell, son of Ed Mitchell. Bottom: Andrew Lilly, son of Chris Lilly, Faye Landess, Woody, and Jacob Scott, Erin Campbell, and Claire Campbell of Ubon’s.


All pics © Ken Goodman Photography

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