The Stories

Festival Tribute

At the 2013 Memphis in May International Barbecue contest, the Willingham’s team sold their barbecue to the public attending the festival. It was a first for the 36 year-old festival and a fitting way to honor John Willingham, who died a few days before at the age of 80.

Emotional Journey

Harry Soo, another barbecue Grand Champion and head cook of the Slap Yo Daddy BBQ team, cooked with the Willingham’s team at the 2013 festival. “It’s hard not to tear up as write this story enroute home from Memphis,” Harry writes. Read more.

Incredibly Intense

In 2012, Modernist Cooking authority Nathan Myrvold joined the Willingham’s team at the annual Memphis contest. “It was an incredibly intense experience; I trussed a whole hog for the first time in my life.” Read more.

The Freedom of Barbecue

Staffers at the Memphis Flyer remembered John Willingham as “a champion of all things barbecue.’ “I believe in the freedom of barbecue,” he told them in a 2009 interview. Read more.

Smoked raccoon?

As the Memphis Flyer discovered at the 2009 Memphis in May competition, Willingham’s is about more than just ribs. Smoked raccoon? Halibut? Moroccan seared duck? Read about it.

Hall of Fame

The American Royal barbecue festival in Kanasas City set up its Hall of Fame as barbecue’s top honor. John Willingham was honored at a 2012 induction ceremony. Read more.