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Festival Dates: Feb 20-23, 2014

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Chris Lilly emerged on the barbecue scene in 1992 when he began working for the world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, Ala. Recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having the best pork barbecue in the country and named the "Best Barbecue Restaurant in Alabama” by the Birmingham News. Lilly is now vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Franchises operating two company-owned restaurants and a franchise in Monroe, North Carolina.

Lilly is also head chef of the award-winning Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, and the winner of 11 World BBQ Championships in several barbecue categories and three Memphis in May Grand Championships, as well as winning the American Royal International Invitational Cook-Off. Lilly was able to display his culinary talents abroad by capturing the Grand Championship at the 2003 International Jamaican Jerk Barbeque Cook-off. In 2012, he won the title of "King of the Smokers” at a national barbecue Invitational.

Widely recognized as one of the top pitmasters in his field, Lilly has been a guest chef for eleven years running at the Food Network's South Beach Wine and Food Festival, has served twice as guest chef at the James Beard Foundation and the American Institute of Wine and Food, was a presenter at the Low-Country and Caribbean Food Conference at Johnson and Wales University, and recognized as Celebrated Chef by the National Pork Board. In 2011, Lilly was an instructor for Pork Summit at Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.

In addition to his work at the restaurant and on the competition barbecue circuit, Lilly also lends his expertise to Kingsford® Charcoal as a national spokesperson, to many organizations such as the National Pork Board and KC Masterpiece for recipe creation, and to companies like NASCAR and Ritz Carlton for private event catering.

In 2009, Lilly authored a compilation of recipes, stories, and expert advice on outdoor cooking: BIG BOB GIBSON'S BBQ BOOK, Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint. The National Barbecue Association awarded it "Book of the Year.”

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