Barbecue Champ Melissa Cookston Joins "BBQ Pitmasters" as Permanent Judge

World barbecue champ Melissa Cookston has another job on her plate: She is the new permanent judge on “BBQ Pitmasters,” a popular series on the television channel Destination America.


Cookston, who is the co-owner of Memphis BBQ Co. in Horn Lake, Mississippi, joins the show for the season four premiere June 2 at 8 p.m. Part of a three-judge panel with Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone, Cookston will appear in six episodes, including the semi-final and final competitions.


In a press release, Cookston had this to say about the show and the judges’ expertise: “Together we bring a wealth of competition and professional cooking experience to the judging table, providing featured teams the ability to gauge how their skills fare against their fellow competitors and the nation.”


The pitmaster of Yazoo’s Delta Q barbecue team, Cookston’s credentials are impressive. Between 2010 and 2012, the Yazoo’s won three whole hog championship titles and two grand championship titles. Last week at the Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Content, the Yazoo’s won again in the whole hog category, taking home a second place victory.


In addition to “BBQ Pitmasters” and the competitive barbecue circuit, Cookston is a hands-on owner of Memphis BBQ Co. along with John Wheeler, who is also a world champion pitmaster. The pair operates their original restaurant in Horn Lake and a second restaurant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. They plan to open additional locations by the end of the year.


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