North Carolina’s championship pork barbecue cooking team was crowned on Saturday in downtown Raleigh as the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship was concluded.
The new state championship team is Trade Mart Traders captained by Arthur Williams. Charles Chestnut and the Three Little Pigs team finished in second place, followed by Charlie Meeks team, Captain Charlie’s Cooks, and Joe Peterson’s Down Home Cookers.
In a separate Showmanship contest, the winning team was John Kearney’s Haulin’ Hog, followed by Grant Gammon’s Taste of Heaven and Bruce Daniel’s Big Bad Wolf. The Showmanship competition judged teams for their thematic representation/decoration of their respective cooking areas. This year’s Showmanship judges were Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Andrea Weigl of the Raleigh News & Observer, and Russ Johnson of the Grass Cats.
The championship cooking team was chosen best among 30 teams assembled for a cook-off held in conjunction with the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival being hosted in downtown Raleigh by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). Blind tasting results and on-site judging tabulations are combined to determine the cook-off winners.
The blind taste judges were were Anna Laurel of WTVD-TV, Chef Jason Smith of 18 Seaboard restaurant, N.C. Pork Council (NCPC) board member Mark Daughtry, and syndicated bluegrass radio personality, Cindy Baucom. The on-site, certified judges were Pat Adams of Snow Hill, Lubin Prevatt of Raleigh, Keith Fuller of Fair Bluff, and Peter Oser of Holly Ridge.
The hog cooking contest, sanctioned and sponsored by NCPC, got underway on the evening of the 27th and concluded the following day. The cooked barbecue was collected after judging, chopped and sold to the general public. Bluegrass fans were able to watch the entire process unfold in the parking area of the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts.
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) organization managed the food service operation. The NCPC donated sales proceeds to IFFS, along with a contribution of up to $10,000 to the IBMA Foundation.
Ann Edmondson, director of communications & marketing for the NCPC, commented, “This was a close contest, based on what I heard from the judges. We are proud of the teams competing for the title and also proud of the many other teams around the state that compete in smaller contests every year. They are all a valued part of the pork community.”
Every year, the best-known whole hog cook cooking teams in North Carolina fight it out to determine the state’s pork barbecue cooking champion. When the IBMA announced its intention to bring its music festival to Raleigh, an agreement was made to combine North Carolina barbecue and world-class bluegrass music.
The Wide Open Bluegrass events brought more than 60 of the nation’s leading bluegrass acts to perform in downtown Raleigh at the Convention Center, the Red Hat Amphitheater and the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. Additional acts performed at a variety of smaller music venues across the city.