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Mike Mills and Amy Mills Share Their Legendary Lives in Barbecue – 17th Street BBQ Interview | Behind The Smoke Podcast #47

At NBBQA conference 2018 with Mike Mills Amy Mills holding PraiseTheLard

RIP Mike Mills

The world lost a legend on Dec. 29, 2020 when our friend and iconic BBQ pitmaster Mike Mills died.

BBQ legend Mike Mills and Amy Mills were guests on the Behind the Smoke: BBQ War Stories podcast

Legend Mike Mills was the essence of #BBQFamily and true hospitality. The BBQ legend and great person genuinely cared about our small BBQ business and gave us tips that we still use to this day.

Mike Mills at Cali Comfort BBQ during an NBBQA Bus Tour

We will never forget hosting the @17thstreetbbq crew and the legendary Mike Mills and Amy Mills at Cali BBQ when the NBBQA Annual Conference landed in San Diego in 2012.

Amy Mills and Mike Mills at #IAMBBQ2018 with Behind The Smoke Podcast
Mike Mills and Amy Mills recorded a Behind The Smoke Podcast at NBBQA

We are so grateful that we also got to interview Mike Mills and Amy Mills on our podcast to hear in person the incredible life he lived.

Behind the Smoke recording a podcast with Mike Mills and Amy Mills from 17th Street BBQ

To Amy Mills: We are sending our love from California and are here for anything you might need. ❤️??


“How can I help?” – Mike Mills

When the BBQ Hall of Famer and legend Mike Mills and the @17thstreetbbq team visited @calibbq as part of the @nbbqa San Diego Bus Tour, we were just a small BBQ restaurant learning the ropes of the true slow-smoked barbecue world.

Mike Mills took the time to ask us questions, answer our questions, give us advice and even thank us for our hospitality.

No matter how big his fame got he always took time to humbly share his knowledge. We learned of stories like this from all over the globe.

Thank you Mike Mills for teaching the next generation how to do bbq right and more importantly, how to lead with your heart.



About this Interview with Mike Mills and Amy Mills:

This BBQ podcast interview featuring Mike Mills and Amy Mills was recorded at the River Ranch Stockyards during the National Barbecue and Grilling Association’s IAMBBQ 2018 National Trade Show and Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

At NBBQA conference 2018 with Mike Mills Amy Mills holding PraiseTheLard


10 Moments from this Episode:

  1. Southern Illinois Former Miner, Metropoulos wins home run derby over Canseco {18:14}
  2. Local Man Recalls Clinton’s Love of Baby Back Ribs {19:38}
  3. “Following up is not only half the battle in PR & Marketing, it’s the whole battle.” Amy Mills {32:50}
  4. “If you do not have a customer, then you are on break, if you have a customer in line, then you are not on break.” – Mike Mills {34:35}
  5. “Marso’s don’t take breaks.” – Derek’s father, Don Marso {35:55}
  6. “You don’t work until you are tired, you work until you are finished with the job. Derek Marso {36:55}
  7. “Shawn, why are there no other cars on the road this Sunday? Because we work when everyone else doesn’t.” Shawn’s grandfather, Luben Walchef {37:41}
  8. “Danny Meyer and Michael Romano came on a surreptitious visit to (17th Street BBQ) and asked to talk with Mike Mills.” – Amy Mills on how the Blue Smoke partnership began. {41:47}
  9. “They went all over the country and tried BBQ everywhere. I feel like (Danny Meyer and Michael Romano) were the first ones to that kind of field work. People didn’t do that. Now it’s a big thing to make a BBQ pilgrimage.” – Amy Mills {42:20}
  10. “Danny Meyer is just an incredible individual. His mind and the way he thinks and the way he talks to people…and treats people, it is just incredible.” – Mike Mills {43:45}


In 2012, the National Barbecue and Grilling Association (NBBQA) hosted their annual trade show and educational conference in San Diego, California. We were very excited for BBQ legends and industry leaders to visit our restaurant in Spring Valley. Before the NBBQA Conference, Gene Goycochea lobbied successfully to get Cali BBQ on the BBQ Bus Tour of San Diego.

During the San Diego BBQ Bus Tour, the great Mike Mills and his daughter Amy Mills visited Cali BBQ and their curiosity and humbleness had a profound impact on all of us.

After Amy Mills and Mike Mills published their second book Praise The Lard, we reached out on Instagram DM to see if they could interview them on our Behind The Smoke Podcast. We did not know at the time that we’d get that opportunity at NBBQA’s Trade Show and Annual Conference at the River Ranch, Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas for #IAMBBQ 2018.

Iconic Pitmaster Mike Mills is affectionately known as “The Legend” in the world of barbecue. He presides over the pits at his two nationally acclaimed 17th Street Barbecue barbecue restaurants in Southern Illinois.

Barbecue heiress Amy Mills, daughter of barbecue legend Mike Mills, is considered the industry’s go-to person for all things barbecue. She is the James Beard Award-nominated author of Peace, Love and Barbecue, a television personality, and a branding, marketing and PR pro. Her company, OnCue Consulting, offers premiere barbecue industry education and she consults with restaurants and barbecuers world-wide.

Mike Mills is also the only barbecuer with top-security clearance to board Air Force One and he’s the only barbecuer who’s been featured in Vogue magazine four times!


Mike Mills and Amy Mills | 17th Street BBQ in Murphysboro, Illinois 

  • Named Best Ribs in America by Bon Appétit magazine (September 2007) and featured on the Food Network special Bon Appétit Picks the Best. 
  • Restaurants and Institutions magazine called Mike America’s most-revered barbecue restaurateur. 
  • For 13 years, Mike Mills was the only three-time Grand World Champion at Memphis in May, otherwise known as the Super Bowl of Swine. His record was tied in 2007. 
  • Mike is the barbecue guru at and a partner in Blue Smoke restaurant in New York City. He was a founding partner in Memphis Championship Barbecue in Las Vegas. 
  • His book, Peace, Love, and Barbecue was nominated for a 2006 James Beard Foundation award and received the 2006 National Barbecue Association Award of Excellence.
  • In October 2008 he was honored with the Pioneer of Barbecue award at the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest.
  • Mike Mills was inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2010.


Talking BBQ and Business with Mike Mills and Amy Mills of 17th Street BBQ

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