Winningest Woman in Barbecue’ Melissa Cookston to be inducted into 2017 Class of Barbecue Hall of Fame | Grilling with Rich Winningest Woman in Barbecue’ Melissa Cookston to be inducted into 2017 Class of Barbecue Hall of Fame

Melissa Cookston to be inducted with 2017 Class of Barbecue Hall of Fame

Posted By: Richard Wachtel
Published: May 24, 2017

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Melissa Cookston, the “Winningest Woman in Barbecue,” will be inducted into the 2017 class of the Barbecue Hall of Fame at the American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri. A 7-time world barbecue champion, Cookston recently won her 5th first-place trophy in Whole Hog at the prestigious Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, where she is also a two-time Grand Champion. Cookston will be honored at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony over Labor Day Weekend 2017 during the American Royal World Series of Barbecue at Kansas Speedway.

A trailblazing woman in a barbecue scene traditionally dominated by men, Cookston is also a successful restaurateur, having opened Memphis Barbecue Company locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi; Dunwoody, Georgia; and Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the steakhouse STEAK by Melissa in Southaven, Mississippi. The Mississippi Delta native has authored two cookbooks, “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South,” and serves as an Ambassador for Smithfield Foods.

Each year, the Barbecue Hall of Fame honors three individuals who have made outstanding and significant contributions to barbecue through extraordinary achievement and service. Its mission is to identify and honor the evolving history and traditions of barbecue and to preserve and document the heritage of barbecue in the world.

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“It’s a true honor,” Cookston said. “I am very humbled to be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame among some of my heroes in the world of barbecue.”

About Melissa Cookston:

Melissa Cookston was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta and is a trailblazing female food entrepreneur smoking the competition.

Cookston is a 7-time world barbecue champion; owner of restaurants Steak by Melissa, a successful steak house in Southaven, Mississippi and Memphis BBQ Company, a successful barbecue restaurant with locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Dunwoody, Georgia; an author of two cookbooks, “Smokin in the Boy’s Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South;” and a celebrated southern Delta chef.

Recognized nationally from many appearances on national news and talks shows as well as cooking shows and Food Network, Cookston served as a judge on season 4 of Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” and was named one of America’s most influential BBQ Pitmasters and personalities by Fox News in 2015. Cookston is a Smithfield Brand Ambassador and is a frequent contributor to Smithfield communications and marketing efforts.

About the American Royal Association:

Woven through the history of Kansas City since 1899, the American Royal provides opportunities for youth and adults from around the country to compete in our Livestock Show, ProRodeo, Horse Shows, and the World Series of Barbecue®. These events allow the American Royal, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, to give over $1 million annually for youth scholarships and support agriculture education programs. In 2016, over 90,000 attendees attended American Royal events generating over $60 million of economic impact. To learn more about the American Royal, visit

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