KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Three titans of the barbecue community were inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue over Labor Day weekend.

“Famous Dave” Anderson, Melissa Cookston and Jeff Stehney were inducted on Sept. 2 during a ceremony held at the site of this year’s barbecue-themed weekend at the Kansas Speedway.

The first to be recognized was “Famous Dave” Anderson who started his barbecue empire on Big Round Lake in Hayward, Wisconsin, in 1994. Since then, Anderson has grown Famous Dave’s restaurants into one of the biggest barbecue chains in the world with more than 180 restaurants.

Anderson addressed the crowd about his journey from his first restaurant in Wisconsin to his place as a barbecue icon today.

Next, Melissa Cookston, the “winningest woman in barbecue,” addressed the barbecue lovers in the crowd. A seven-time world champion on the competition circuit, Cookston continues to bring her Southern style to all her culinary creations as well as in her two restaurants. She has also authored two barbecue-themed cookbooks. 

During her acceptance speech, Cookston referenced her love for the people in the barbecue community of and how this has become a passion in her life.

Finally, Jeff Stehney, president and co-founder of Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que, thanked his family and supporters during his induction. Stehney has been competing in the American Royal World Series of Barbecue for 28 years. Since starting his career as a pitmaster at the American Royal, Stehney has grown Joe’s Kansas City restaurants to one of Kansas City’s best-known barbecue destinations for visitors to  Kansas City and a mainstay among residents of the area.