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Growing up in Greenville, SC, Charlie McKenna learned early on about the art of true Southern BBQ. McKenna graduated from New York’s Culinary Institute of America in 2000. He then cooked under legendary chef Norman Van Aken in Florida, before becoming a sous chef at two of Chicago’s four-star fine-dining landmarks: Tru and Avenues in The Peninsula Hotel.
Charlie opened the flagship Lillie’s Q restaurant in July 2010 in Chicago, named for his Grandmother Lillie, who taught him the art of southern cooking. At Lillie's Q, he reimagines Southern-inspired BBQ into unique, authentic and delicious flavors. Since opening, McKenna and Lillie’s Q have garnered critical praise and awards from both local Chicago and national media – including being named “Best New BBQ Restaurant in the Country” by Food & Wine magazine.