reg Brooks of PigMasters in Greens-boro
describes the preparation process
as “butterflying” the pig: splitting it
down the middle then placing it atop
the racks skin-side up so that every
part can cook evenly at roughly 125
degrees for 10-12 hours.
“They are a rarity now, mostly because not everyone
has a good smoker or the time to do it right,” Brooks
His business specializes in pig-pickings for corporate
events and family get-togethers, where cooking the whole
pig and letting guests choose their favorite parts straight
from the source has what he calls a “novelty effect.”
But even if a lack of equipment and time deters back-yard
purposes, like Scott Ramsey, a competition-grade pig
cooker. Though his family-run business, Ramco Machine
and Pump Service out of Leland, tends to monopolize
much of his time, it hasn’t stopped him from pursuing
another activity that strikes close to home.
“I’ve been competing two years now,” Ramsey says.
“My first competition, I placed fifth out of 20 at the
North Carolina Blueberry Festival.”
Ramsey did better at this year’s blueberry festival, plac-ing
second. It helped to have Chestnut, a 23-year veteran
at competitive pig cooking, by his side.
“I probably won, in 23 years, about 75-80 trophies,”
Chestnut says. “I do more mentoring now. I will go out
there and work with somebody and show them exactly
how I done it.”
Ramsey entered the arena of competitive cooking
after years of volunteering his services and his smoker
for church events, neighborhood gatherings, and family
affairs. He quickly realized it was going to be a challenge.
“When I got to the cook meeting, they said ‘no sauce
allowed,’ and I was so surprised,” Ramsey recalls. “I said,
‘I might as well go home now.’”
At any casual function, he flavors the pig with his
signature sauce throughout the cooking process. For a
competition, the professionals may only use the basics for
consistent results and fair judging: baking soda, cooking
oil and salt.
cooks from cooking the entire pig, there are others
who do so for catered barbecues as well as for competi-tive
Charles Chestnut, top left, and Scott Ramsey receive their
pig for the North Carolina Blueberry festival competition
on Friday night and begin the preparation process.
Ramsey and Chestnut apply baking soda and lay rags on
the hog, part of the prep/cleaning process to draw the
blood out. Ramsey presses the pig between the racks in
his cooker. The racks hold it in place and allow it to be