BBQ contests are a big thing across the USA and the world. With prizes up to $100,000, being a winning pitmaster in the many competitions can be pretty lucrative. Winners can get national television coverage and bragging rights which helps to promote their restaurants.

Cook-off judges have large BBQ cook-off judging sheets that take many elements of the entry into account. The presentation, bark, sauce, taste, smoke flavor, texture, tenderness, and a range of other scores are checked off.

Most of the successful pitmasters initially became well known for a BBQ restaurant they worked for or owned. Some have become rich by opening more branded restaurants. The big barbecue cook-offs have produced international celebrities similar to famous chefs who became rich such as Gordon Ramsey.

Chefs and pitmasters become popular enough to end up with their own TV shows or acting as judges. Famous pitmasters will also come together for large smoked meat events or lead teams that compete against other teams. There will usually be different categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket, sauce, and desserts.

It sounds like a delicious career to have. A big part of your life being smoking BBQ meat and enjoying eating it. How many kids, when asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” say, “I WANT TO BE A PITMASTER!” Most kids probably don’t know what it is all about unless one of their parents is like one of the following examples of famous pitmasters.

  1. Myron Mixon – The winningest man in barbecue

    Being called “the winningest man in barbecue” is not just a slogan. Myron Mixon has won more BBQ competitions than any other pitmaster in the world.

    As far as the world goes, he is a four-time World Barbecue Champion. If BBQ competitions were a sport like boxing, which some people have compared these barbeque contests to, he would be a heavyweight in the meat smoking world. A champion in the “smoke ring?”

    Getting rich as a pitmaster involves more than just traveling to one BBQ competition after another around the country and world. A smart pitmaster leverages their bragging rights as a winning contestant into a range of cash-generating endeavors.

    Not only a barbecue champion, he:

    • Is a partner in Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue, a restaurant in Alexandria, VA.
    • Has a successful BBQ cooking school.
    • Is a New York Times bestselling cookbook author.
    • Has a line of rubs and sauces and other BBQ products.
    • Has a line of smokers/grills: Myron Mixon Smokers.
    • Is a host of a series of TV shows.

    And that’s not all folks; Myron is the Mayor of Unadilla, Georgia. Good lord, he must be a busy man! 

  2. Melissa Cookston – female food entrepreneur extraordinaire

    We showed you the winningest man in barbecue; now we need to tell you about the winningest woman in barbecue! While pitmasters are often men, there are many women pitmasters. Melissa Cookston is one of the most successful female entries into the BBQ champion arena. She is also a female food entrepreneur extraordinaire.

    Here is a list of accolades, awards, and business accomplishments that is impressive. She:

    • Is a seven-time world barbecue champion and the only female barbecue world champion.
    • The only person to win the World Hog Championship three years in a row.
    •  Is the chef and owner of two restaurants in two locations – Memphis Barbecue Company.
    • Is the author of 2 BBQ cookbooks, “Smokin in the Boy’s Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South.”
    • Is a cooking show celebrity judge on “BBQ Pitmasters” (Watch on Netflix)
    • Has a line of sauces, rubs, and other BBQ products.
  3. Tuffy Stone

    George (Tuffy) Stone is not only an accomplished pitmaster; he is also a classically trained French chef. Why a trained French chef and a pitmaster? Tuffy began his culinary career in 1987 working at a French restaurant La Maisonette in Richmond, Virginia. His recipes and presentations show that influence.

    In 1993 he started his own catering company with his wife Leslie, called “A Sharper Palate,” a top-rated Richmond catering and events firm. He also owns a local BBQ restaurant chain in Virginian called “Q Barbeque.”

    He describes himself as a traditional wood burner who likes to use hickory wood in his smoking. Known for precision and obsession with the science of smoke has earned him the nickname “The Professor.”

    Tuffy says, “Treat smoke like salt and pepper. Make it be a supporting flavor to the natural meat itself.”

    This approach to cooking has made him influential in the world of BBQ and pitmasters. Tuffy founded a BBQ team in 2004 they call “Cool Smoke” that compete on the competitive barbecue circuit. Tuffy and his team have won contests all around the country, becoming a six-time Barbecue World Champion.

    Like our other famous BBQ champions, he appears as a judge on TV shows like BBQ Pitmasters. Of course, he has a cooking school and sells BBQ products, like sauces and rubs. And has a book – Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue you can buy for $27.00.

You to can get rich being a BBQ pitmaster

Are you getting the picture yet how it is possible to get rich as a pitmaster? Here is the roadmap to success to follow if you would like to do something you love and get rich.

  1. Have a love for smoked meat
  2. Work your butt off at a restaurant for some years
  3. Hone your BBQ skills
  4. Travel the country entering BBQ contests, and be ready to lose until you win
  5. Use your BBQ awards and recognition to build your brand
  6. Open some more restaurants using your celebrity status
  7. Start a BBQ school and write some books
  8. Get on national television
  9. Make a website and sell some BBQ products

There you go! It is easy. Just follow this plan, and maybe someday you will be featured in a blog on Caldwell County BBQ’s website!