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Let’s Eat, Mississippi: The Shed takes top prize at Memphis in May barbeque competition

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

  • The Shed team returned to Ocean Springs from the Memphis in May event with their third Grand Champion win.

Brad Orrison didn’t plan on being a barbeque master. As a student at Ole Miss, he spent his spare time dumpster diving and rummaging through piles of garbage on the side of the street. The night before trash day was always his favorite day of the week. 

When he graduated, he built a trailer out of the salvaged boards and other materials he gathered to haul his growing junk collection back to his home in Ocean Springs. It was there that he decided what to do with the junk. Brad decided to build a takeout barbeque joint using his salvaged wood, ugly windows, and other materials. He was just 24 at the time, and his 19-year-old sister, Brooke, helped him cobble together a shed of sorts.

Brooke and Brad then practiced cooking, smoking, and timing meats to reach their peak of perfection. After many attempts, Brad finally perfected his Secret Shed Rub.

He then searched for the perfect sauce, calling on a local man known as Poppa, who had spent twenty years making his special sauce for friends. When Brad massaged his sacred rub onto his baby back ribs, followed by Poppa’s sauce, he knew they were ready to open The Shed. 

Their brother Brett, 22 at the time, returned home a few weeks after The Shed opened. He had recently graduated from Full Sail University with a degree in recording arts and worked as a sound engineer for the House of Blues in New Orleans. Brett used his knowledge and contacts to set up one of the finest Blues venues in the South. 

A Family Affair

That led to The Shed becoming a true barbeque and Blues joint, and it’s still a family affair. Brad is the idea guy, and Brooke works to make his ideas profitable. Brett handles the sound, and their mom markets the joint by telling everyone she knows about it. Their teetotaler grandmother even runs the beer bar, while their dad makes barbeque sauce, ShedSpred, mac sauce, bean sauce, slaw sauce and their many specialty sauces for retail. 

Customers loved it so much, they began to call themselves “ShedHeds,” and they even volunteered to help. They brought even more junk to build additions to the building so they would all have a place to sit. The Shed went from 300 square feet to 9,570 square feet with an office and stage. The joint can seat 120 customers inside, and another 450 outside. 

But don’t call it a restaurant. In all its tacky glory, The Shed is strictly a joint. Whatever you call it, it is a destination where families and friends come together to sit around the fire pits, visit, listen to live music and eat barbeque.

Best barbeque in the world

Some say it is the best barbeque on the bayou. It was also judged to be the best barbeque at the World Champion Barbeque Cooking Contest last weekend – The Shed team returned to Ocean Springs from the Memphis in May event with their third Grand Champion win.

The Shed, represented by Brad and Brooke, has competed in the event for seventeen years, taking home the Grand Champion trophy in 2015 and 2018. 

This year, The Shed took top honors with their championship entry in the whole hog category.

Another Mississippi barbeque staple, Ubon’s Barbeque of Yazoo City, placed fifth in the whole hog category. 

World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest is a BIG deal

Every year, crowds gather at the riverfront in Memphis for the popular Memphis in May International Festival. The month–long festival celebrates the best of Memphis with food, music, community and culture.

A big part of the festival is the four-day World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest – the largest pork barbeque contest in the world. It has been featured in the national broadcast finale of BBQ USA on the Food Network and is recognized by USAToday as “the most prestigious barbeque contest” with teams representing the best of barbeque, many of whom have spent years honing their craft for a shot at the more than $150,000 in prize money. This year marked the event’s 46th year. 

The Shed’s team walked away with a cool $26,000 in prize money for their Grand Champion win. 

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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