Ribs are extraordinarily popular (who doesn’t love ’em?), so this division of Memphis in May tends to draw the most contestants. This year, 122 teams entered, making the competition especially stiff. In the end, Cordova, Tennessee’s aptly named High Life on the Hog claimed first place. Get a taste of the action on the following pages, and hit up memphisinmay.org for full results. Photography:Joe York
Back in the day, Murphysboro, Illinois barbecue legends Pat Burke, of Pat’s BBQ, and Mike Mills, of 17th Street BBQ, led Apple City Barbecue to the first-ever perfect score at Memphis in May. “We cook what we call real barbecue,” Mills points out. “We do it the old-fashioned way. We’re not masquerading the flavor. You get a little of the spice, a little of the sauce. It’s delicious.”
The Apple City Barbecue tent feels like a family reunion and victory lap for Burke and Mills. Their “The Boys are Back Tour” is the first time they’ve teamed up in 18 years. “I’ve been getting antsy,” Mills says. “Now was the time.”
Big Mo of New York City’s DTS Harlem X-Press uses a “trashcan cooker,” made of a 50-gallon drum, to cook his ribs in the final hour. “It finishes the ribs with a flame-kissed touch at the end,” he explains.
The dirty secret of Memphis in May is that the whole riverbank is filled with delicious pig and, if you’re just a hungry member of the public, you can’t eat any. It’s a caloric torture device, but Memphis local Hal Davis outsmarted the barbecue gods: he founded his own team. Was forming Porkstars a lot of work? Yes. But all that pig is better than a concession stand any day.
Oxford, Mississippi’s PorkFiction gonna get medieval on that pig’s ass.
Trip Spear, head cook for the hometown BBQ Team, chillaxes in a hammock while he waits for his ribs to cook. What sets them apart? “That’s a good question.” His team placed 103rd this year.
Well, isn’t this a tasty trifecta of ribs, beans and weenies?
The guys from Olive Branch, Mississippi’s The Other Team have been watching way too many Vietnam movies. Their necklaces are made from the rib bones left over from their 1998 prize-winning ’cue.
The Swinos’ penchant for panties helped them win second place in the Miss Piggy Idol competition. No word yet on whether it will get the Collierville, Tennessee team a) divorced b) arrested or c) awarded the special judge’s prize for most creepy. Until next year...