Alabama barbecue icon to be inducted into national BBQ Hall of Fame

The national American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame will be honoring the late Robert “Big Bob” Gibson, a legendary figure in Alabama barbecue, for his contributions to the industry. Gibson, who was the owner of Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, will be posthumously inducted into the prestigious hall of fame later this year.

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

This year’s inductees for the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame were announced today in a press release.

Chris Lilly, a renowned pitmaster from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, holds an impressive title as a multiple Memphis in May world champion. Notably, he is also married to Bob Gibson’s great-granddaughter. Given his exceptional skills and contributions to the barbecue world, Chris Lilly was rightfully inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2016.

Lilly, speaking to, expressed her pride in having her great-grandfather-in-law join her at the barbecue hall. This is a significant moment for the entire Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q family.

“This holds an extraordinary significance not only for me and my family, but also for the city of Decatur,” Lilly expressed. “Big Bob Gibson’s restaurant has played a crucial role in the lives of those who have grown up here, and Big Bob Gibson himself holds a special place in the heart of the Alabama barbecue community.”

Lilly highlighted the tremendous impact of Big Bob Gibson when he began his barbecue journey in 1925. Not only did his influence extend to his own family, as all five of his children pursued careers in the barbecue business, but it also touched the lives of numerous individuals who have worked in the pit rooms at Big Bob Gibson’s. Many of these individuals have gone on to establish their own ventures, carrying forward the traditions that Big Bob Gibson initiated in Alabama.

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According to barbecue expert, Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson’s influence on Alabama barbecue is significant. 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 esteemed late John “Big Daddy” Bishop, founder of Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa, was honored with an induction into the hall of fame. Following in his footsteps, Rodney Scott, a South Carolina native and owner of Rodney Scott’s BBQ with two locations in the Birmingham metro area, was also recognized with this prestigious accolade in 2021.

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

In Alabama, barbecue is a beloved culinary tradition. From mouthwatering smoked meats to tangy sauces, the state is known for its delicious barbecue offerings. If you’re a barbecue lover, you won’t want to miss out on Alabama’s best barbecue spots. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favorite barbecue joints in the state, so you can indulge in some finger-licking goodness. Whether you prefer pulled pork, ribs, or chicken, these places have got you covered. So grab a napkin and get ready to dig into some of the most delectable barbecue Alabama has to offer.

Gibson, along with the late Matt Garner of Houston and the late Jose “Joe” Romero of Los Angeles, are the additional legacy inductees in the Barbecue Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

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Danielle Bennett from Auburndale, Florida, Rick Browne from Portland, Oregon, Steve Grady from Dudley, North Carolina, and Ed Maurin from Kansas City, Missouri are the four living inductees.

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

Jackie McClaskey, the president and CEO of the American Royal Association, expressed her admiration for the individuals who are being inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame. She described this honor as prestigious and emphasized the significance of barbecue as a sport. According to McClaskey, these pitmasters, restaurant owners, and barbecue enthusiasts are not only talented and creative, but they also possess a deep passion for what they do. Many of them have dedicated their careers, or even their entire lives, to serving the barbecue industry.

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

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