RALEIGH, NC—Twenty-six cooks arrived in Raleigh Friday afternoon with hopes of winning the 2015 Whole Hog Barbecue Championship, but only one walked away with the trophy and bragging rights. After an overnight cook-off and extensive judging, Joe Peterson of Roanoke Rapids earned an unprecedented fourth title. As the Raleigh Christmas Parade concluded, Peterson was named the 2015 Whole Hog Barbecue Champion by the North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC).
The second place winner was last year’s champion Ernest Twisdale also of Roanoke Rapids, followed by Chris Fineran from Little River, SC for third place and David Murray from Snow Hill for fourth. Judges found themselves at an impasse on this year’s Crispy Skin Award winner when nearly perfect skin was offered by Peterson, Fineran, Murray, Jim Bristle and Bobby Prescott, creating a five-way tie.
The championship cook was chosen best among the 26 cooks assembled for the cook-off held in conjunction with the Raleigh Christmas Parade. Blind tasting results and on-site judging tabulations were combined to determine the cook-off winners.
In a separate showmanship contest, judging creative and imaginative decoration of their cooking areas, Fineran won top honors, with Larry Hicks coming in second and Tyler Whitley winning third.
The on-site, NCPC certified judges were Pat Adams of Snow Hill, Paul Derrick and Lubin Prevatt of Raleigh, and Charlie Martin of Greenville. The blind taste judges were pork producer and NCPC board member Brian Kennedy of Pink Hill, Greater Raleigh CVB president and CEO Denny Edwards, “Holy Smoke” co-author William McKinley, and Chef Jeff Edwards of UNC-Chapel Hill Dining.
Longtime judge and barbecue aficionado Prevatt remarked, “I’ve never judged a more consistent group of well-cooked whole hogs in a contest. All of the pork was moist, tender, and delicious. It was a tough, but excellent competition.”
Ann Edmondson, director of communications and marketing for NCPC, commented, “According to the judges, this was the best—and closest—contest they’ve judged. We’re proud of our winners and all those who came to compete. Our Whole Hog Barbecue Series cooks are a valued part of the pork community.”
The hog-cooking contest, sanctioned and sponsored by NCPC, got underway on the evening of the 20th and concluded the following day. The cooked barbecue was collected after judging, chopped and sold to the general public. The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) managed the food service operation and kept all barbecue sales proceeds.