So much pork, so little time. That’s how I felt at the Time Warner Cable Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival. This year I, along with My92.7’s Frankie Stone, was a judge. We loved every finger-licking moment of it. This was my first year. This was Frankie’s third. She had a system.
As celebrity judges, we tasted ribs and pulled pork prepared by backyard grillers. On Friday, we judged a category called Anything But. There was a killer blueberry cobbler, succulent lamb, juicy cornish hens, tuna sandwiches and chicken wings – lots of chicken wings. My table judged tasty prawns with a white fish wrapped around something and yellow rice.
That was Friday night. It was chill and festive. Saturday, however, was intense. We were instructed by official Memphis Barbecue Network judges (real judges). We were assigned our tables and told not to open the boxes until instructed. It felt like I was back in high school taking the SATs. We were also told not to talk, talk, about pork. We were instructed to judge only the meat on our not table. We were not to compare the meat to our favorite restaurant, our own grilling skills or ribs we may have eaten for dinner the night before. It was only about the ribs on the table. We couldn’t give too many 10s. We couldn’t give too many low scores.
Finally, we got the green light to open the boxes. I started drooling. Before we could dig in the MBN judge volunteers suggested how to open the boxes. Popping the tops and digging in wasn’t acceptable.
By the time we got the boxes open, a puddle of drool had collected in my plate. I buried my face in my first rib. I didn’t look up until it was clean. The celebrity judge in front of me had only taken two bites out of his first rib. He pensively pondered the tenderness and flavor. He sat it down. He took two bites of a rib in box no. 2. He pondered. He asked a volunteer to bring him some water (as if we had a waiter). He cleansed his palate and proceeded to the next rib.
I ate and scored all six ribs as he pondered and nibbled. In fact, I was devouring ribs from my favorite box while he and other judges at my table were still writing their scores. This is where I made my mistake. While I was eating the ribs I considered the best at my table, other judges milled about the room tasting the best ribs from other tables. My girl Frankie collected her favorite ribs in a carry out box. Be sure to check out the photo in the gallery.
By the time we judged the pulled pork, I knew what to do. I tasted, judged and I’m still eating leftover pork today.