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Top 10 People [Pitmasters] of BBQ


Nothing can compare to a delicious, well-done barbecue, and these people know best how to prepare it. Meet the BBQ pros, 10 Pitmasters whose experience and passion are worthy of admiration.

AaronFranklin Pitmaster

Aaron Franklin

In the barbecue world, Aaron is often considered a legend. In the past, he launched his own restaurant in Austin under the name of Franklin Barbecue. At first, it was merely a little trailer, but over time things started to move. It grew and developed into a seasoned and respectable business. The restaurant has received multiple awards and proudly bears the status of the best barbecue joint in Texas, a highly prestigious award that only the best can win. In his book, “A Meat Smoking Manifesto”, Aaron Franklin sheds light on his numerous techniques that led him to success.

Chris Lilly Pitmaster

Chris Lilly

Chris Lilly is a famous barbecue champion who took part in a number of different contests and challenges and attained success. He is notoriously famous for being the only man who participated in the Memphis in May BBQ cook-off contest and won it five times. The contest is also jokingly known as the Super Bowl of Swine. Chris is the author of two books. His Alabama BBQ joint is widely considered to be the most influential in the country. He uses a mixed technique and combines the grilling speed with the low-and-slow method. His meals are for any day of the week.

Robert Rainford Pitmaster

Robert Rainford

A famous Canadian chef, Robert made plenty of appearances over the years. At one point he was also the host of an extremely popular TV show called “License to Grill”. He dedicated his whole life to the culinary career. Today, he is a renowned master of grill. He is best known for his Rainford Method. Robert’s personal advice is to always use a two-tiered heat approach. This is something many people forget about when grilling. It is necessary to have a cooler zone during intense grilling. Tody, Robert Rainford has the official status of the Chef Ambassador.

Steven Raichlen Pitmaster

Steven Raichlen

Steven Raichlen is a famous author and one of the most widely known BBQ pros. He is the author of a popular bestseller series, the Barbecue Bible, which is his most well-known work. In Colorado Springs, he founded Barbecue University which has been successful at preparing BBQ pitmasters. The primary ingredient that Steven always relies on is extra virigin olive oil. He uses it literally for everything and considers it to be the lifeblood of his barbecue. Another technique that he uses is cavemanning. Grilling food on the embers always gives a very special taste to his dishes.

Larry McGuire Pitmaster

Larry McGuire

When it comes to pitmasters who have their own distinct style, Larry McGuire is certainly one of them. His unique style is described as slow-smoked barbecue, something that Larry is very proud of. His BBQ career has been pretty successful. In a matter of just six years Larry opened as many as six different restaurants – roughly one per year. Now, he shows no intention to slow down and is determined to continue his ventures. Today Larry is clearly on track towards a celebrity status, and time will tell how much successful he’ll be. By far, his McGuire empire is clearly expanding.

John Mueller Pitmaster

John Mueller

John Mueller is perhaps a somewhat controversial character. He is known as a prominent member of the Texas barbecue community, and some people certainly love bashing him. Nonetheless, he succeeded in building a highly successful and well-performing family business that continues to remain popular up to this day, which was not an easy journey and required some courage and resolution on his part. His latest business enterprise is John Mueller Meat Co., which can be considered the next step in his career. While Mueller may not be the most popular BBQ star, he is undoubtedly a very talented pitmaster.

Johnny Trigg Pitmaster

Johnny Trigg

This is a seasoned and serious pitmaster. Johnny Trigg is also called the Godfather of Barbecue. His team “Smokin’ Triggers” has been noticeably successful in various competitions, particularly in Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational. Winning this famous competition is not an easy milestone, but Johnny Trigg has won it as many as two times, which makes him the only person with such a track record. He was awarded the title of Grand Champion, something that he deserved in full. Today he sometimes participates in BBQ Pitmasters and is included in the Barbecue Hall of Fame.

Daniel Vaughn Pitmaster

Daniel Vaughn

Daniel Vaughn is a well-known barbecue guru. It’s been a long time already since he became a barbecue editor in Texas Monthly. Thanks to its dedicated barbecue section, it is one of the most authoritative periodicals catering to barbecue lovers. Texas Monthly BBQ is widely considered to give the most extensive coverage on the art of barbecue. Daniel’s position is well-deserved as he demonstrated his level of expertise plenty of times. Additionally, Vaughn is known for authoring the book “The Prophets of Smoked Meat” where he details his approach to barbecue sprinkled with facts from his biography.

Max Lavoie Pitmaster

Max Lavoie

Max Lavoie, the BBQ Guru, is a proud family man and a successful entrepreneur from Quebec. He decided to dedicate himself to barbecue grilling at an early age, back when he worked at his father’s store. He received numerous awards in Canada as well as the USA. These include the first place for Product Innovation in Texas, among many others. His book is called “BBQ au Max”. Max Lavoie puts a heavy emphasis on spices and recommends using them on every suitable occasion. Today, Max continues to nurture and cultivate his passion for barbecue.

Pat Martin Pitmaster

Pat Martin

Pat Martin is from Nashville, Tennessee, and he is pretty famous there. Martin admits that he has a real, serious cause: to preserve the West Tennessee whole-hog barbecue tradition. As for himself, he learned it when he lived in Henderson, a small rural town in Tennessee. Today he runs several restaurants under his own name where he daily smokes a few hundred pounds of hogs in open pits. The hallmark dish is called the Redneck Taco which is served atop a hoecake and is covered with sauce and slaw.

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