Melissa Cookston was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta and is a trailblazing female food entrepreneur smoking the competition.
Cookston is a seven-time world barbecue champion; owner of restaurants Steak by Melissa, a successful steak house in Southaven, Mississippi and Memphis BBQ Company, a successful barbecue restaurant with locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Dunwoody, Georgia; an author of two cookbooks, “Smokin in the Boy’s Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South;” and a celebrated southern Delta chef.
Recognized nationally from many appearances on national news and talks shows as well as cooking shows and the Food Network, Cookston served as a judge on season four of Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” and was named one of America’s most influential BBQ Pitmasters and personalities by Fox News in 2015.
BBQ Bob (Robinson) has become a name that is synonymous with Pellet Grilling. Being a pioneer of the Pellet Grill industry has left him with stories going back to the late 80’s, when he first fell in love with the fastest growing segment of the grilling industry today. He was the first Pellet Grill retailer in the Midwest through his retail store in Kansas City, and to show people what the grills were truly capable of, he decided to join some BBQ competitions.
BBQ Bob stopped competing around the mid 1990’s, but in 1998 he made a cameo appearance on a team with Fast Eddy – for the Jack Daniels World Championship Competition. They were the only team using a Pellet Grill at that time, out of 28 teams, and they won Reserve Grand Champion that year (2nd place).
He has been referred to as the Godfather of Pellet Grills in the Midwest and has unofficially been welcomed as a “BBQ Celebrity” by his cohorts. However, Bob considers himself a pioneer, not a celebrity.