Alabama barbecue icon chosen for induction into national BBQ Hall of Fame

The late Robert “Big Bob” Gibson, a legendary figure in Alabama barbecue, will be honored posthumously as he is set to be inducted into the prestigious national American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame later this year. Big Bob Gibson, known for his iconic Decatur-based barbecue joint, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, has left an indelible mark on the barbecue scene in Alabama and beyond. His legacy and contributions to the world of barbecue will be celebrated through this well-deserved induction.

In the Barbecue Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024, Gibson, the inventor of Alabama white barbecue sauce, is being recognized alongside four living inductees and two other posthumous inductees.

The American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame unveiled the names of this year’s inductees in a recent press release.

Chris Lilly, a world champion pitmaster who is married to Bob Gibson’s great-granddaughter, has already been inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2016.

In a proud moment for the entire Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q family, Lilly shared with that having his great-grandfather-in-law join him in the barbecue hall was truly special.

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“This holds a significant meaning not just for me and my family, but also for the community of Decatur,” Lilly expressed. “The presence of Big Bob Gibson’s restaurant has been a source of immense value for all those who have grown up in this city, and Big Bob Gibson himself holds a special place in the hearts of the Alabama barbecue community.”

Lilly explained that when Big Bob Gibson started in 1925, his influence extended beyond his own family. All five of his children went on to work in the barbecue business. Additionally, many individuals who have worked at Big Bob Gibson’s and have since ventured out to establish their own barbecue establishments have kept the traditions that Big Bob Gibson started alive in Alabama.

According to barbecue expert Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson’s influence on Alabama barbecue cannot be understated. He states, “So now what we think of as Alabama barbecue and all the things that set us apart, a lot of those things can be traced back to Big Bob Gibson in his pit room.”

In 2019, the late John “Big Daddy” Bishop, the renowned owner of Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa, was honored with an induction into the hall of fame. Following in his footsteps, Rodney Scott, a native of South Carolina and the proud owner of Rodney Scott’s BBQ with two locations in the Birmingham metro area, joined the esteemed hall of fame in 2021.

The 2024 inductees will receive recognition at the 44th American Royal World Series of Barbecue, scheduled to take place in Kansas City, Kansas from October 30 to November 3.

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Gibson is not the only one being recognized in the Barbecue Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024. Joining him are the late Matt Garner from Houston and the late Jose “Joe” Romero from Los Angeles.

Four individuals have been selected as the living inductees for this prestigious honor. They are Danielle Bennett from Auburndale, Fla., Rick Browne from Portland, Ore., Steve Grady from Dudley, N.C., and Ed Maurin from Kansas City, Mo.

Van Sykes, the owner and pitmaster at Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer, was among the 10 finalists for induction in the Class of 2024. The announcement of the finalists took place on May 8.

Jackie McClaskey, president and CEO of the American Royal Association, expressed that being inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame is a highly esteemed accolade for the deserving individuals. In her media release, she highlighted the fact that for many, barbecue is not just a hobby but a true sport. These pitmasters, restaurant owners, and barbecue enthusiasts showcase remarkable talent, creativity, and an unwavering passion for their craft. Their dedication to the barbecue industry is evident as they have devoted their careers, and in some cases, their entire lives, to serving and advancing this beloved industry.

The American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame, a national organization, is committed to acknowledging, recording, and safeguarding the rich heritage of barbecue.

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