Hog tying the competition
It certainly was “some pig” that a local business owner helped prepare for an international competition, coming in first place for the whole hog section.
For the past three years, George Logue, chef and owner of Acme Barbecue & Catering Co., has traveled to Memphis, Tenn. to participate in the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest with The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint.
This past May, their hard work beat out all of the other teams in the whole hog section.
“It’s a pretty prestigious award,” Logue said. “It was fun to be on a team with (The Shed). We worked so hard for three years. We wanted to get first place. We wanted to get on stage.”
About 140 teams flocked to the event, held during Memphis in May, a month-long festival. While there are many categories in which to compete, the main three categories are whole hog, ribs and pork shoulder.
“We always do whole hog,” Logue said.
The majority of the points in the competition come from a blind taste from the judges.
Before judges can taste the hog, however, it must be cooked.
The hog is kept on ice until it is ready to be prepared. The fat is trimmed and they take out everything except the meat. The hair is shaved and the hog is washed in warm water before the cooks start injecting it with flavors, such as apple juice, vinegar and barbecue sauce. It is stuffed with sausage and lined with bacon.
The outside is oiled. The inside is rubbed with a special rub.
The Shed’s team is one of very few teams that prepare the hog standing up. It takes a full 24 hours to ready the barbecue, which cooks overnight in a jeep.
Since most people use regular smokers, Logue said he thinks they have one of the most creative smokers. The creativity also allows for a better taste.
“The juices drip down (when the hog is standing up),” Logue said. “It makes the meat more tender.”
A giant water pan under the hog keeps it moist. They keep the temperature at 200 degrees. The ears are covered in foil because they burn easier than the rest of the body.
Wood is used to add flavor and color to the hog.
“It’s beautiful, all the wood going, the charcoal,” Logue said.
Logue, and another teammate from Florida, were the only ones who competed who were not from The Shed.
Logue stumbled into their kitchen during a national barbecue convention in South Carolina, where they were preparing a whole hog.
“They asked if I wanted to help,” he said. “I said ‘Sure.’ They asked if I wanted to go to Memphis with them.”
The first year Logue participated, he mostly hung back and watched.
“The first year I went, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It was crazy. I was standing back because I didn’t want to be in the way. The last two years, I helped more. They were using some of my ideas.”
This year, they had a plan.
“This year we put the hog on and I had a good feeling,” Logue said.
Just because they won once does not mean the team is stopping. He said The Shed wants to do it every year and as long as they get on stage, he doesn’t care how although winning the three major categories would be good.
Having so many different teams together making barbecue allows for a learning opportunity, because each region cooks differently, especially with the different flavors.
“It’s crazy how many different flavors you can have,” Logue said.
Whilst cooking the hog, he also visited other teams, many of which featured ambiance.
For The Shed, their tent was made to look junky with rusted metal, as a throwback to its beginning: a man who loved digging through dumpsters to find items, such as the jeep in which the hog was prepared.
Other spaces had three-story tents with corporate sponsors, who walked around the crowd distributing passes to parties.
“We cook,” Logue said. “We eat. We hang out.”
Logue also cooked alligator ribs for Adam Richman, best known for his Travel Channel eating challenge television show, “Man v. Food.”
In addition to winning the whole hog portion of the competition, The Shed’s team also came in first place in poultry.
This was not the end for Logue’s barbecuing competitions this year.
At the end of June, he, his father and two cousins represented Acme Barbecue in Buffalo, N.Y. It was the restaurant’s first time competing.
“If we start doing well, we can move on,” Logue said.
Acme Barbecue opened a little more than three years ago, he said.
“My father and I always loved cooking,” he said. “People loved our barbecue. We wanted to get it out there.”
When the opportunity came to open the restaurant, he did not want to miss it.