The First Black Woman Ever Was Just Inducted Into The BBQ Hall Of Fame

In the United States, barbecue is an institution. Depending on what part of the country you are from, you will have known and been raised on a distinct kind of barbecue. Whether your heart yearns for the vinegar-based whole hog barbecue from North Carolina, or you prefer a more mustard-based fare like they do in South Carolina, you probably feel very strongly about it (via The Smithsonian). There's no denying the indelible, unique impact that barbecue has had on food and American culture.

According to The Smithsonian, the first recorded traces of barbecue date back to when Christopher Columbus first arrived on the shores of North America. Since then, barbecue has gone on to be a genuine phenomenon — spurring cooking competitions, TV shows, and food-focused road trips. Adrian Miller tells Food & Wine that the barbecue industry overall is somewhat misrepresented and doesn't fully honor those who paved the way for today's pitmasters and chefs, creating a place in food culture for them to really shine. That's why Desiree Robinson being inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame is such an historically huge deal.

The 83-year-old Memphis, Tennessee, native is the co-founder and pitmaster of Cozy Corner, one of the city's most popular barbecue restaurants (via Memphis Magazine). Robinson, who started the restaurant with her late husband, Raymond Robinson, has been working at the establishment for over four decades.

Why is Desiree Robinson such a trailblazer?

She admits that hearing the news that she was inducted was quite mind-boggling ("I almost passed out," she told Memphis Magazine), but also delighted her. Robinson is used to working without recognition, Food & Wine reports. And although she is the one being inducted, she made sure to give credit to her late husband, the one she credits with creating all the recipes.

Miller, who is on the Hall of Fame nominating committee, explains that Robinson's induction highlights two very important things. Robinson, according to Miller, is a prime example of what an accomplished restaurateur looks like — her late husband may have started the restaurant, but she made it what it is today. The second point, Food & Wine reports, is that Robinson is shining a light on the fact that Black women have been in the barbecue game for a very long time, without due recognition.

But this isn't the only place where Robinson is making strides. She's also the first Black inductee to be honored while living. Prior to her, the previous three Black pitmasters — Henry Perry, Christopher B. Stubblefield, and John "Big Daddy" Bishop — were all honored posthumously (via Food & Wine).