Chris Lilly emerged on the barbecue scene in 1992 when he began working for the world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, Ala. Recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having the best pork barbecue in the country and named the “Best Barbecue Restaurant in Alabama” by the Birmingham News. Lilly is now vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.
Lilly is also head chef of the award-winning Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, and the winner of 15 World BBQ Championships in several barbecue categories and a record four Memphis in May Grand Championships (2000, 2003, 2011, and 2014), as well as winning the American Royal International Invitational Cook-Off. Lilly was able to display his culinary talents abroad by capturing the Grand Championship at the 2003 International Jamaican Jerk Barbeque Cook-off. In 2012, he won the title of “King of the Smokers” at a national barbecue Invitational.
Widely recognized as one of the top pitmasters in his field, Lilly has been a guest chef for fourteen years running at the Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival, has served twice as guest chef at the James Beard Foundation and the American Institute of Wine and Food, was a presenter at the Low-Country and Caribbean Food Conference at Johnson and Wales University, and recognized as Celebrated Chef by the National Pork Board. In 2011, Lilly was an instructor for Pork Summit at Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.
In addition to his work at the restaurant and on the competition barbecue circuit, Lilly also lends his expertise to Kingsford® Charcoal as a national spokesperson, to many organizations such as the National Pork Board and KC Masterpiece for recipe creation, and to companies like Nissan, NASCAR and Ritz Carlton for private event catering.
Lilly has appeared on “Live with Regis and Kelly,” “The Today Show” thirteen times, “The Martha Stewart Show,” “ESPN College Football Live,” and “ESPN Game Day,” as well as numerous Food Network programs, including “Cooking Live with Sara Moulton,” “BBQ with Bobby Flay,” and “Paula’s Home Cooking” and has made countless special appearances on local stations nationwide. In 2011, he competed on the Food Network competition reality show “Best in Smoke” and also appeared as an expert judge on the 2011 CBS show “Ultimate Barbecue Showdown.” In addition to the television appearances, his cooking has been featured inSouthern Living, People, Food and Wine, Food Network Magazine, The New York Times, Men’s Health, The Wall Street Journal, and Maxim Magazine.
In 2009, Lilly authored a compilation of recipes, stories, and expert advice on outdoor cooking:BIG BOB GIBSON’S BBQ BOOK, Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint. The National Barbecue Association awarded it “Book of the Year” and it is now in its 7th printing. In 2014, Lilly’s second book and much anticipated follow-up is titled: FIRE & SMOKE, A Pitmaster’s Secrets.
In an effort to educate America on the fundamentals of championship barbecue, Chris was the co-creator of “The All-Star BBQ Showdown” for The Outdoor Life Network (OLN). This 9 episode BBQ television series aired in 2005. Along with creating the show, Chris has also assumed the Executive Producer role and hosted the show. In 2006, Chris continued with his television career as co-creator and executive producer of BBQ Championship Series on Versus Network.