John Willingham knew how to make great barbecue, and it was a passion throughout his life.
"John Willingham was a true legend of barbecue," said the organizers of the Memphis in May Festival, "winning awards everywhere he cooked, and winning friends at every stop with his own brand of wisdom, humor and kindness." The contest organizers termed him "the most acclaimed barbecue chef in the world."
In 2012, John was inducted into the American Royal's Hall of Fame, barbecue's top honor. The award recognizes contributions to the advancement of barbecue by individuals in the competitive, business and entertainment communities.