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Memphis in May; BBQ at its Best

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Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 4:19 pm

     Memphis in May is the Super-bowl of Barbeque.  If there’s a bbq contest to win, this is it!  People come from all over to win an award at the WORLD”S LARGEST PORK BBQ COMPETITION.  The competition is hot and the weather is hotter.  This is the event to attend! 

      I was a judge at the event a few years back and let me tell you, these people are serious when it comes to the competition.  The mentality?  Play hard and work harder.  Everyone is welcoming and excited to be there.  Walking by the booths, it is common to be welcomed in with a beer and a chair to sit in.  The booths are exquisite!  Each team is judged on the booth(according to the year’s theme), their presentation, story behind the meat and finally the blind tasting. 

     How about this hot tip, Peace, Love, and Barbeque!   This James Beard nominated cookbook was written by Mike Mills, who gave me a tour of the event!  Mike is known as the grandfather of barbeque, owns 6 nationally accredited bbq restaurants, and holds four World Titles for barbeque.  Needless to say, the man raises the bar in barbeque!  Now, how’s that for a tour guide?    

     I followed the journey of one particular group from The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint.  

The founder and co-owner, Brad Orrison, told me about their origin, a backyard bbq’r that built a shed to sell takeout and now has 5 locations!  Brad let me watch as their whole pig was brined, rubbed, and loaded into their smoker oven that was actually in an old car!  He spent 20 hours smoking the pig, cleaned his booth and prepared his plate for the judges.

     This is where I came in!  Each team was given a white styrofoam box to present at precisely the right time.  If their slot was 11:05, it needed to arrive just then.  (They are strict and extremely well organized.)   The funniest thing was watching grown mean holding out their boxes and running like little girls to make sure their display stayed intact!    

     Brad’s team made it to the finals where they took home 3rd place in the whole hog category!  With the Ms. Piggie contest (ever seen a man in a tutu?), entertainment and many food booths, Memphis in May is an unbelievable event.  If you can’t make it, how about bring the competition to your home?  Invite your friends for a BBQ and enjoy! 

Here are some of my favorite BBQ Recipes we’ve done on Bringing it Home:

Dry rub with Master cut Pork Ribs 

Chipotle Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes and Braised Greens

Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with White Corn Succotash

Keep it fresh and good luck on the barbeque!

Laura McIntosh 

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