Atlanta, GA,
09:06 AM

Memphis BBQ Pit Master Earns Titanium Tongsman Title

Two Tennessee Finalists + Celebrity Chefs battle before SEC Championship game

Atlanta, GA – After earning the Johnsonville Tongsman finalist positions last month, Angelia Howard of Nashville and Brent Little of Memphis battled it out in a live grill-off event before the Dec. 4 SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

After the 30-minute contest time ended, Little collected just five points more than Howard to capture the Titanium Tongsman award, a custom set of grilling tongs to match his new title, and a Pit Boss pellet grill.

Little’s creative Memphis-Style Hasselback Sausage Burger was presented on a plate showing off a grilling tongs silhouette dusted with a BBQ dry rub, which seemed to impress the judges in terms of originality and adhering to the Tongsman theme. Meanwhile, Howard’s Super Savory Gumbo Smoked Sausage Sandwich captured high points for flavor and presentation.

As part of their finalist roles, Little and Howard were accompanied by some serious grilling and cooking power. Little partnered with seven-time world BBQ champion and restaurateur Melissa Cookston, while Howard was assisted by Chef Richard Ingraham, a cookbook author, restaurant owner and personal chef to several professional athletes and celebrities, including Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade. The two Tongsmen finalists and celebrity assistants battled it out, grilling their sausage-based recipe during a 30-minute contest in hopes of being crowned the Titanium Tongsman.

Little and Howard emerged as the two Tongsman contest finalists after consumers of all skill levels were asked to share a photo or video to Instagram or Twitter, showing off how they made room on the grill for sausage. Favorite sausage recipes, humorous tong skills and a variety of grilled sausages were among the entries submitted for this fall’s Tongsman contest sponsored by Johnsonville.

The contest also featured another impressive group of pit master and grilling experts, who served as contest judges. They scored the two finalists on creativity, taste, adherence to the Tongsman theme and visual presentation. Serving as Tongsman contest judges were John Cooper, the Johnsonville 2020 Tailgate Pro winner, and celebrity grilling enthusiasts and Pit Boss brand ambassadors Willie Robertson, Justin Martin and Lee Ann Whippen. Robertson and Martin are former Duck Dynasty stars and avid grillers. Whippen is a certified KCBS BBQ judge and world champion pit master.

Little’s recipe, the Memphis-Style Hasselback Sausage Burger, features Johnsonville’s smoked rope sausage and sausage strips, complemented by a tangy BBQ cheese sauce. In Howard’s first recipe competition, she submitted her Super Savory Gumbo Smoked Sausage, featuring Johnsonville’s andouille smoked sausage, topped with her creole mixture. Both finalists were also awarded a $1,000 and enjoyed tickets to the 2021 SEC Championship game following their contest.

About the Finalists:

Angelia L. Howard (@chef.a.lynn): Angelia is a Nashville native and 25+ year human resources professional-turned-aspiring chef. Angelia grew up cooking alongside her grandmothers and that passion was never far away. At the urging of her maternal grandmother, she attended the Art Institute Tennessee, which fueled her pursuit of her longtime love of cooking. The rest, she says, is “HerStory.” A huge fan of retired NBA player Dwyane Wade, Howard followed the Instagram account of his personal chef Richard Ingraham, learned of the Tongsman contest and created her successful sausage recipe!

Brent Little (@engineerofque): Brent grew up loving to grill in North Carolina. Moving to Memphis in 2013, Brent joined Pig Diamonds BBQ, one of the oldest teams that competes at Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. He’s honed his BBQ skills ever since. In May 2021 he became the head chef for Pig Diamonds BBQ, leading the team to 11th place in the whole-hog category during the Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Competition. It was there he competed against Melissa Cookston, who took third in that competition.