Christina was born and raised in St. Louis, MO to a big family. She is the oldest and only girl out of six boys. She knew at a very young age that cooking was her passion. Although her grandmother found it odd when she was little, she preferred to watch Ina Garten and Paula Deen over Sunday morning cartoons. She decided to pursue this passion by enrolling herself into culinary school. She did exceedingly well, graduating at the top of her class as a student ambassador and captain of the culinary competition team. (ACF, American Culinary Federation) She has since won many culinary competitions and auditioned for Food Network Star Season 11. She was honored to be cast for the show. After the show wrapped, a mutual chef friend introduced her to chef/owner of Sugarfire Smokehouse, Mike Johnson. Apparently, love at first sight does exist. The two have been inseparable ever since. Christina and Mike joined forces! Together they now have five children, seven restaurants, two very large dogs and a lot of love. Mike and Christina both began their culinary careers in French influenced fine dining. Mike has shown Christina the light, BBQ is the way to go! They now work to grow their business and compete together all over the globe in BBQ competitions. The most recent competitions were in Paris, Australia, Memphis in May, and the Kansas City Royal. Christina is a fierce competitor with a wild sense of humor and a big heart. There are many exciting things on the horizon for Christina……STAY TUNED!!!
Hailing from a background in fine dining, Chef Mike Johnson launched his culinary career under young Emeril Lagasse before heading north to develop his skills under the expertise of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter and Gabino Sotellino. Johnson then traveled to Paris to train at the prestigious Le Buisson D’Ardent, and served a stint under Belgian Master Chef Daniel Joly in Beaver Creek, Co. before bringing his culinary expertise home to St. Louis.
Today, Johnson’s the chef and owner of St Louis’ Sugarfire Smoke House, an award-winning restaurant known for its succulent brisket, pulled pork and ribs, as well as its signature sandwiches and sides that shine light on Johnson’s dynamic capacity. With six locations (and counting), Sugarfire has consistently been ranked best barbecue in St. Louis and Johnson continues to establish himself as culinary master and renowned competitor, placing 1st in the 2015 Memphis in May World Championship (seafood), 3rd in the 2014 Memphis in May World Championship (poultry), and most recently, 3rd in the 2015 World Food Championship (bacon). Furthermore, Chef Mike is thrilled to see his latest venture Hi-Pointe Drive In come to fruition as his passion pursuit of burgers. Chef Mike has been featured on a variety of national television shows, including Food Network’s BBQ, Brews & ‘Que (feat. Michael Symon), Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, and Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay! Keep up with Chef Mike Johnson on Twitter!
John David Wheeler, Head Cook for the Natural Born Grillers BBQ Team, is one of the most award-winning BBQ cooks in the world. Among his many accomplishments, he’s a two-time winner of the overall Cooking Team of the Year award, winner of the World Grand Championship at Memphis in May, winner of three separate World Championships and over 75 Grand Championships, not to mention winning literally thousands of other awards.
As co-Pitmaster of the Memphis Barbecue Company, John and his co-partner Melissa Cookston own and operate one of the hottest BBQ restaurants in the country. Melissa is a wildly celebrated Pitmaster and multiple World Championship winner. Together, the two of them establish Memphis Barbecue Company as the only restaurant in the world to feature two World Championship Pitmasters at the helm.
John David Wheeler is a special guest of the Yak Ales Barbecue Festival in 2017.
Jim Johnson is a KCBS master barbecue teacher, and highly decorated barbecue pitmaster, having won 76 Grand Championships during his 28-year competition career. Jim has finished first in every category at four Memphis in in May contests on four occasions, and has finished in the top ten nine times. Jim has also been crowned the Whole Hog World Champion at the prestigious Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational. Jim and his wife Becky are part of the KCBS International Outreach team.
Jim Johnson is a special guest of the Yak Ales Barbecue Festival in 2017.
Adam North is a recognised meat expert, avid industry advocate, public educator, ambassador and charismatic host, amongst other things. He has a passion for quality food and wine and has always been determined to discover the ‘best of the best’ in the world.
Adam has built himself an impressive reputation in the industry. He has been successful in transforming his business, Hopkins River Beef into one of the most renowned, highly respected and award winning quality meat suppliers in Victoria. Adam was also a founding partner of Entrecote – a French inspired steakhouse that has redefined steak and frites in Melbourne – a true haven for meat lovers and a favourite ‘hot spot’ on the Melbourne scene.