Chef Charlie McKenna
Chef Charlie McKenna is famous for bringing award-winning competition BBQ and timeless Southern cooking to Chicago. McKenna and Lillie’s Q have garnered critical praise and awards from both local and national media—including being named Best New BBQ Restaurant in the Country by Food & Wine magazine in 2011. And now his Lillie’s Q gourmet sauces and rubs have taken off into the stratosphere, stocked at 6,000 stores across the nation and overseas. The sauces are the #1 bestselling premium sauces in the United States.
McKenna graduated from New York’s Culinary Institute of America in 2000 and cooked under legendary chef Norman Van Aken in Florida before becoming sous chef at two of Chicago’s four-star fine-dining landmarks: Tru and Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel. During that time, McKenna also won numerous awards on the competition BBQ circuit, including a first-place win at Memphis in May, widely regarded as the world championship of barbecue.
Shortly after opening restaurants in Destin, Florida, and Chicago, McKenna opened Lillie’s Q outposts in the Chicago French Market and the United Center. After gaining recognition for his award-winning sauces, McKenna began bottling them. Now, Lillie’s Q Sauces & Rubs can be found all over, even at Crate & Barrel, Target, Walmart, West Elm and other retailers.