BBQ Hall of Fame Inductees Announced (2024)

On Wednesday, May 25, the American Royal announced the Class of 2022 inductees to the Barbecue Hall of Fame, which honors those who have made significant contributions to the American barbecue tradition and community.

In addition, the slate now includes three legacy inductees (notable figures who have passed away) as well as a brand new Impact Award to recognize organizations or groups of people instead of individuals.

The 2022 Class

And the four inductees are . . .

  • John Markus: Television producer, and competition pitmaster who launched the BBQ Pitmasters television series.
  • Ed Mitchell: An Eastern North Carolina barbecue legend who not only founded a series of restaurants in Goldsboro and Raleigh but became a national evangelist for traditional whole hog barbecue at events like the Big Apple Block Party in New York City.
  • Joe Traeger: Inventor of the pellet cooker and founder of Traeger Grills, Joe Traeger is one of the few figures in barbecue who can truly be said to have created an entire category of cooking equipment.
  • Lee Ann Whippen: Champion competition pitmaster, founder of six barbecue restaurants, and a media personality who's a regular on shows like BBQ Brawl and Master of 'Cue, Lee Ann Whippen has done a little bit of everything in the world of barbecue, and she's done it very well.

Congratulations to this year's new class! All four are great additions to the Hall of Fame, and they will be honored in person this fall during the American Royal World Championship of Barbecue in Kansas City.

2022 Legacy Inductees


BBQ Hall of Fame Inductees Announced (1)

Adam Scott serving barbecue at the 1948 Tobacco Tamasha celebration in Wilson, North Carolina (N.C. Department of Archives and History)

This year the Committee selected from among all the figures nominated by the public three legacy inductees who played an influential role in shaping the long American barbecue tradition. The 2022 Legacy inductees are:

  • Bobby Mueller: Though the restaurant bears his father's name, Bobby Mueller was the one who managed the pits at Louie Mueller Barbecue and helped make it a Central Texas icon. Mueller, who passed away in 2008, helped popularize the massive beef short ribs that are now synonymous with Texas barbecue, and his son John and daughter LeAnn went on to found respected barbecue restaurants of their own. Another son, Wayne, keeps the fires burning at Louie Mueller's today.
  • Karen Putman: A noted fine dining chef who crossed over into the barbecue world, Putman became one of the first women to compete on the barbecue competition circuit in the Kansas City area and won four World Champion titles. A founding member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, she was also an author and teacher who mentored an entire generation of competition cooks as well as restaurant chefs. She died in 2011.
  • Adam Scott: was a pioneering North Carolina barbecue caterer and restaurateur, and in honor of his Hall of Fame nod I have decided to write a longer profile of him, which you can find here on on RobertFMoss.com once it's finished . Scott was an early pioneer of commercial barbecue in eastern North Carolina, representing the transition from informal catering operations to permanent restaurants, and he had a huge influence on the evolution of that region's barbecue style and tradition.

Impact Award

One of the reasons it's important to tell the stories of barbecue pioneers like Adam Scott is that far too many important figures — especially the countless African American cooks who helped define and propagate the tradition — have been long forgotten. There are dozens of photographs and illustrations from the 19th century showing men tending open pits with long shovels and mops, but most of their names have been lost to history.

This year the Barbecue Hall of Fame chose to honor these unknown cooks with its inaugural Impact Award, a new category that is meant to honor groups of people who have made a lasting impact on the world of barbecue but aren't represented by a single individual. As the Hall phrased it in the induction announcements, this year's Impact Award goes to "all unsung Black barbecue cooks whose contributions to the art of barbecue deserve to be remembered and memorialized. Many of these unknown pitmasters include talented cooks from the South during and after the Civil War who pioneered the barbecue of today."

BBQ Hall of Fame Inductees Announced (2024)
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