Becoming Top Dog in Whole Hog

Every year since 1985, the North Carolina Pork Council has organized and sanctioned the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship as the culmination of the Whole Hog Barbecue Series local competitions across the region. The chefs who qualify in the local events come together to duke it out for the title of Champion.

The very first Championship took place in Raleigh at the N.C. State Fairgrounds on May 18, 1985 and was won by Willis Peaden and Jim Elder from Havelock.

In the history of the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship, no year was more amazing than 2013.

The International Bluegrass Music Association held its World of Bluegrass annual conference and festival in Raleigh (the first year in a three-year commitment). The Whole Hog Barbecue Championship was a cornerstone of the event and played a key role in luring people to what turned out to be the largest, most successful event ever hosted by downtown Raleigh.

The North Carolina Pork Council donated the meat from the contest to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, a local hunger-relief organization that sold sandwiches and raised more than $20,000 to fight hunger and preserve the bluegrass tradition.

Since then, the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship has returned to downtown Raleigh as part of the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival. Get more details on this year’s contest here.

The Best of the Best

It takes a skilled and seasoned barbecue chef to earn the grand prize at the annual Whole Hog Barbecue Championship. Each has a reason to be proud.

And some have more than one reason. Five chefs have won more than once, and two have won it three or more times.

For a complete list of winners, check out the Whole Hog Barbecue Hall of Fame.