With the first big grilling holiday coming up this Memorial Day weekend, now seems to be a good time for a tasty tidbit of news from the most prestigious barbecue contest — and the local team that won it.
Blues Hog, which operates out of Washington, Missouri, was named the grand champions of Memphis in May, considered by many to be the Super Bowl of barbecuing competitions.
On May 14, the team led by Blues Hog owner Tim Scheer and Brad Leininger of Branson won the whole-hog category of the 44-year-old contest.
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That win put them in a “best of show” competition with the winners of the two other main categories: ribs and pork shoulder — a division Blues Hog won in 2020 in Memphis.
And Blues Hog came away with the grand champion trophy. Along with some big trophies, the team also took home a total of $32,600 in cash prizes.
In all, 212 teams from 24 states and four countries competed.
“It’s a big deal,” Scheer said of the Memphis victory. “There’s none bigger than that one.”
Born and raised on a hog farm in New Haven, Missouri, and a former basketball standout for Southeast Missouri State University, Tim and his wife, Terri, bought Blues Hog from Bill Arnold in 2015.
Prior to taking over the company, Scheer had been competing since 2008.
“It all started on the farm, just grilling on the weekends. I told my dad, who’s still working every day on the farm at 72, that I’d found a way to make the hogs smell good,” he said.
Since Scheer started in competitions, he has won dozens of trophies, for ribs, briskets and shoulders at well-known contests such as the American Royal World Series of BBQ, the Jack Daniels Invitational and the Kansas City Barbecue Society competition.
Along with competitive cooking and tending to Marble Ridge Farms, where the Scheers raise wagyu cattle and mangalitsa pigs, the family also operates Gateway Drum Smokers.
Those drums have helped Scheer create a fundamental change in barbecuing method: “hot and fast.”
With the “low and slow” cooking method dominating barbecue contest for years, Scheer switched to cooking directly over coals, cutting cooking times by half, or even more.
“We took everything we knew about barbecuing and kind of chucked it out the window,” he said. “Actually, what we did was just went back to the old-school method, cooking right over the coals.”
It should also be noted that winning Memphis in May has historical significance in STL, where the quality of ‘cue rivals that found in Kansas City, Memphis and Texas.
In 2000, local restaurant Super Smokers won the grand champion trophy at Memphis in May. Owner Terry Black used that win to expand his number of stores and helped spread Memphis-style barbecue throughout the area.
Then a member of Black’s team, Skip Steele, got together with Mike Emerson to open Pappy’s Smoke House, which led to the establishment of several other popular joints, such as Bogart’s, Dalie’s and Adam’s.
But don’t look for Blues Hog to open a sit-down restaurant. Said Scheer with a laugh, “We already have too many irons in the fire now as it is.”