The third and final act of the inaugural Cochon Heritage BBQ weekend began with a giant plate of cheese and four glasses of wine — as, we've now determined, all good things should start.
Next door, Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville Kentucky, gave an overview of the umami-yielding properties of Red Boat fish sauce, including examples of its use in both American and Mexican cuisine. (We all got our own sample bottles to take home, along with a packet of the brand new Red Boat seasoning rub.)
And further down the hall, Dr. David Newman held a Heritage breed hog butchering demo, a reminder of the pork-filled competition still to come.
Out on the streets of downtown, an open air kitchen was already smoking, and a small farmers market was set up along Main Street. We headed to Felicia Suzanne's before the big competition to take in some (more) bourbon in honor of National Bourbon Month, and enjoy barbecued oysters and a Whole Foods BLT bar.
No sooner had we gulleted a few oysters and BLTs than the main event, the Heritage BBQ competition at the Columns at Court Square, beckoned us with its porky siren song.
The competition centered around a 4+2 Judge's Plate. Each of the nine teams crafted a snout-to-tail plate featuring a pull, a muscle, a bone, a stew, a mayo-based side, and a mustard-based side. From the official Cochon Heritage BBQ Program:
By the end of the competition, the winner was announced (with second and third place winners also noted.) Todd Mussman of Local 3 in Atlanta was the overall winner, with special marks given to his pig head gumbo served with dirty rice calas.
Mark Newman and Miles McMath of St. Jude, the only hometown winners, were given second place honors for their spread, which included a Yorkshire pudding, a pecan pie, Koolaid pickles, and an offal corndog (the offal/awful homonym led to a couple of enjoyable, if predictable, "Who's on first?" moments.) We believe Newman and McMath may have gotten a few extra points for their special guest, Sadie, the three-week-old piglet, who stayed tucked into her cage under the serving table. (She went home, unharmed, to live with Miles McMath.) Craig Bell of Sub-Zero Wolf in Chicago took home third place.
The weekend was a whirlwind of cochon camaraderie that swept through Memphis with Hurricane Isaac at its back. We're already looking forward to next Labor Day.
For more coverage, visit Pam Denney's Memphis Stew or check out this week's Food News in the Flyer.