Ernest Twisdale’s 2014 was the kind of year that veteran whole hog barbecue cooks dream of. He entered 10 contests, placed 1st in half of them and won the North Carolina Pork Council’s Whole Hog Barbecue Championship. It was, by all standards, a banner year.
It was also Twisdale’s first year cooking on his own. He had cooked under three-time state champion Joe Peterson for six years, soaking up Peterson’s wealth of knowledge and learning the tricks of the trade. And last year, he was ready to do it himself.
In his very first contest as head cook, the 2014 Spencer-Penn Centre’s Pig Cookin’ Contest, Twisdale placed first. Several months and several 1st place finishes later, he found himself at the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship in Raleigh, competing against the best of the best.
“The pigs were beautiful,” Twisdale said. “They were a great size and weight. I knew that if I cooked it like I should, it would be a good pig. And it was. I really was tickled about how it turned out.”
Twisdale took first place in the championship competition. His mentor, Joe Peterson, finished second.
While not all newbies are likely to reach Twisdale’s level of success right off the bat, he does have a few pieces of advice for those just entering the world of whole hog cooking. Know your grill, have a good sauce and don’t get discouraged.
Twisdale will kick off his competitive cooking season this year at the Newport Pig Cookin’ Contest. Let’s see if he can top last year’s success!