A Few Minutes With A BBQ Legend

Saturday, October 25, 2014 - by Steve Ray
Mike Mills takes time to catch up with an old friend after he signed her cast
Mike Mills takes time to catch up with an old friend after he signed her cast

The Jack Daniels Invitational BBQ Contest held each October in Lynchburg, Tn. has been described as “The Masters” of the BBQ competition world.

And like The Masters, “The Jack” as it is referred too, is a contest of the best the sport has to offer and also serves as sort of family reunion of past champions and participants.

Enter Mike Mills.

Mills was the BBQ Pitmaster of Apple Wood BBQ team. In the early to mid 1990s he and his team won just about every contest there was to win in that era. His team was based in Murprysboro, Il.

He is known as the Father of modern day competitive BBQ.

“I first heard of competition BBQ in 1988,” Mills said. “I heard of Memphis in May and I thought to myself that I could do that.”

“After I went there I knew I was hooked and I was going to make sure there was a contest later that year in Murphrysboro.”

Mills served as a judge for this 26th edition of The Jack.

“What I like about coming to these contests is keeping the BBQ tradition going,” Mills said. “These are such special folks out here and these contests are full of friends and people we’ve met along the way.”

Standing enjoying a rest under some shade, Mills is beckoned by a contest official that someone is here who must see him. Mills follows the official and sees an old friend who has a cast on her leg. They hug and of course, after a joyous reunion, he bends down and signs her cast.

“You see, this is what I mean by keeping these things going.” Soon, Mr. Mills has to go back to his role as guest judge, sampling pork and brisket with five other judges at the table. The most famous and influential person in BBQ settles quite comfortably into is role as BBQ judge along with close to 100 other judges.

Never once forgettting, where it all started. 

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