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Melissa Cookston, restaurateur and World Barbecue Champion   

What’s your secret sauce? “A good sauce has a lot of different ingredients, as does a successful business. For starters, never sacrifice quality to turn a dollar. At my restaurant, we don’t ever take shortcuts. Another ingredient of success is culture. I’m from Mississippi, the Hospitality State, and I treat every guest as if she were sitting down at my own dining room table. Lastly, don’t ever forget where you came from, no matter how successful you become. I firmly believe in paying it forward. I get a lot of questions from people who want to start a barbecue business or enter a competition. I’m not necessarily going to send them my sauce recipe, but I’ll always tell them, ‘This is what’s worked for me. It may not work for you, but I’ll be glad to share what I know.”

The co-owner of Memphis Barbecue Co. and vice president of the National Barbecue Association recently released her first book, Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room

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