About Big papa



Dana “Big Papa” Hillis is much more than a barbecue man! Dana’s original career as a general contractor started to take a back seat as his 5 children grow up and moved on. Having to feed his boys and an abundance of wrestlers along the way Dana found his true passion in cooking. 

In 2007 Dana and his wife Janet started their professional competition cook team Big Papa’s Country Kitchen. Big Papa worked countless hours perfecting his own signature sauces, rubs and methods quickly becoming a top competitor. 

Big Papa’s accomplishments have been growing steadily since:

  • 42      Grand Championships
  • 36      Reserve Grand Championships
  • Best      of the Best Grand Champion - 2008 and 2010
  • National      BBQ Championship - Las Vegas, NV - Best Ribs In America
  • Best      of the Best Apple Pie Championship
  • 28      BBQ sauce Championships
  • Finalist      at the Sam's Club World championships
  • FBA      Team of the Year standings: 2008 - 10th, 2009 - 5th, 2010 - 1st, 2011 -      2nd, 2012 - 1st
  • Award      winners at the Jack Daniels
  • Award      winners at the Kansas City American Royal
  • Reserve      Grand Champion at the World Food Championship in Las Vegas in 2012
  • Over      100 First Place Category wins
  • 2012      Florida BBQ Association President

With their family expanding with marriages, grandchildren and grand-dogs  Dana and Janet settled back down in Naples, FL. Big Papa’s Country Kitchen then set their sites on vending and catering. Big Papa’s Country Kitchen is a regular at several communities Food Truck nights, Festivals, Fundraisers and other gatherings around Southwest Florida. 

In August 2012 Big Papa started hosting Professional and Backyard Cooking School. The first Professional two-day class had over 25 professional barbecue teams in attendance! The Backyard BBQ Class is a one day class, teaching the non-competing folks how to master the grill and impress their friends and family. 

Not only does Dana cook BBQ he writes about it; he has been witting barbecue columns for several years for the National BBQ News, Woods N Water and the BBQ Times. Often Dana writes about his life as a competitor BBQ team and his family.

Big Papa loves cooking so much he annually feeds the kids at New Beginnings, assist with Operation BBQ Relief as well as cooks turkeys every Thanksgiving for Golden Gate High School Wresting team.