Food has been a part of my life forever! At age 13, I started working in my uncle’s BBQ business. During this time, I watch, learn, and developed a love for cooking. In 1988, I was 23 and after spending 2 years as a manager at McDonald’s I opened my first restaurant, Neely’s BBQ. Over the next 2 1/2 decades, Neely’s BBQ grew to 5 locations in Memphis, Nashville, and New York City. In 1997, Neely’s BBQ was named the Best BBQ in Memphis and featured on The Today Show with Al Roker. In 2007, I was named Restaurateur of the Year and inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs.
Fueled by the popular appeal of my restaurants, I embarked on a career as one of America’s favorite celebrity chefs with Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys, where I shared the secrets behind my favorite dishes and my passion for food, family and fun. Down Home with the Neelys was the highest-rated series debut in the history of Food Network’s “In the Kitchen” block. The show enjoyed thirteen successful seasons on that network and its sister channel, GAC. I also, enjoyed one season where I hosted Road Tasted with Neely’s. I travel around the country experiencing some unique food business.
Building on his tremendous success in television, I became a respected cookbook author with New York Times best-seller Down Home with the Neelys (Knopf, 2009), The Neely’s Celebration Cookbook (Knopf 2011) and Back Home with the Neelys (Knopf), was published in April 2014. In 2013, I partnered with QVC to offer a line of branded cookware.
In 2014, I has served as a national brand ambassador for Family Dollar Stores. I have also represented several other major brands in national marketing campaigns including Kraft Foods, Ms Paul’s Fish, Sam’s, McDonald’s and Boston Market. Most recently, I partnered with an amazing restaurant, This Is It BBQ and Seafood in the Atlanta area where is I served as brand ambassador for their franchise group with plans to open locations across the country and in Canada.
With nearly a decade of experience as a television personality, I was proud to take my media career to a new level for the 2016 – 2017 season by hosting and executive producing SAVE TO WIN, a brand new game show which will featured nationally every Saturday on the CW Television Network as part of its “One Magnificent Morning” programming block.
I have appeared on various national television and radio shows including Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Chew, The View, The Talk, The Rachael Ray Show, The Arsenio Hall Show, The Queen Latifah Show, In the Kitchen with David, The Wendy Williams Show, The Monique Show, The Steve Harvey Show, Home & Family, Anderson Live, Bethenny, Martha Stewart Radio, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, BET’s Lift Every Voice and Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns Sister Circle and Pickler and Ben. In print, I’ve been featured in a variety of national magazines and papers including The Wall Street Journal, People, USA Today, Food Network Magazine and Sam’s Club Magazine. I regularly appears on stage offering inspirational speeches and cooking demonstrations to audiences across the United States, Mexico and Asia.
I’m enjoying this incredible ride and the best is yet to come!!
For my entire life, BBQ has always intrigue me. From cooking on an open flame, creating spices, and combining great ingredients to make the prefect sauce. Operating BBQ restaurants never seemed like a job, it was always a hobby! Whether, I’m in my backyard, doing cooking demonstrations, or in my restaurant, I’m truly at my best when I’m standing in front of my grill!