BBQ joint in Alabama takes home top prize for pork shoulder at world championship

A popular barbecue restaurant from Alabama emerged victorious in the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest held in Memphis over the weekend. Surpassing its competitors, it secured the coveted first place position in the pork shoulder category.

Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ in Decatur has an impressive track record with 15 previous world barbecue championships under its belt. This renowned establishment has consistently excelled in categories such as pork, brisket, ribs, and chicken. Adding to their success, Executive Chef Chris Lilly has secured a well-deserved third-place win in the Kingsford Tour of Champions category, a recognition bestowed upon them by the general public.

Big Bob Gibson’s is renowned for its smoked chicken with white sauce. The restaurant was founded in 1925 by Bob Gibson, who began cooking for his loved ones using a hand-dug BBQ pit in his own backyard. Recognized as Alabama’s best BBQ restaurant by the Food Network last year, Big Bob Gibson’s has a long-standing reputation for its delicious smoked chicken and signature white sauce.

The grand champion of this year’s Memphis competition will be a familiar name to many Alabama residents. The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint, located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was awarded the prestigious grand prize on Saturday. After a grueling competition where countless pitmasters put their skills to the test, The Shed emerged victorious in the pork category. Their exceptional performance earned them the title of grand champion in Memphis, Tennessee.

The cooking competition, known as one of the top culinary contests in the United States, has a rich history dating back to the 1970s. However, with the growing popularity of culinary sports and the participation of talented chefs from all over, the competition has become more intense than ever before.

Over $150,000 in prize money was given to the 129 cooking teams from 22 states and four foreign countries who participated in the competition. They competed in three main categories: ribs, shoulder, and whole hog. In addition, there were other contests for hot wings, poultry, beef, and seafood.

In Memphis, pork always takes center stage.

Brad Orrison and Brooke Lewis, siblings from Ocean Springs, have been competing for 17 years with their team, The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint. The team is named after their restaurant. Impressively, they have won the grand championship three times.

“This is the trophy that everybody wants,” Orrison exclaimed, referring to the Super Bowl of swine.

Orrison, Lewis, and their team took the time on Friday to prepare two flavorful Duroc hogs. They injected each hog with marinades and placed them delicately over a bed of butter and bacon. This cooking contest is an annual tradition that is part of the Memphis in May festival. For Orrison, Lewis, and their team, it’s more than just a competition. It’s a gathering of friends from all over the country who share a deep passion for barbecue.

According to Lewis, the camaraderie among the competitors is strong, with everyone supporting each other. However, on Saturdays, the atmosphere changes drastically and becomes highly competitive, with an intense silence filling the park.

Orrison explains that one of the challenges of judging Memphis in May is that every team presents the best food in the world. The competition is tough because the judges may encounter three teams that have created the most delicious and mouthwatering bite of barbecue.

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MBS Staff
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