A custom created hog is barbecue champion’s secret weapon
I had the pleasure of meeting the winningest woman in barbecue a couple years ago when I visited her Memphis BBQ Company and fell in love with their food. Despite being a 7-time world barbecue champion, being featured on cooking shows and Food Network, and being a cookbook author, Melissa Cookston is so down to earth.
Melissa Cookston, the “Winningest Woman in Barbecue,” has created and will cook a custom-bred hybrid hog to help her claim her third grand championship at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. She is also the owner of Memphis BBQ Company with several locations in the southeast. She has written two cookbooks and has appeared on TV shows including “Today,” “BBQ Pitmasters” and “Chopped.”
“These are some pampered pigs,” Cookston says. “You have no idea how spoiled they are. These are happy hogs, and I’m a firm believer that happy hogs taste better.”
The breeding program, believed to be unprecedented in the 40-year history of Memphis in May, aims to produce hogs with optimal levels of protein, fat, texture, and flavor to complement Melissa’s preferred hog-cooking style in order to produce a better product.“These are some pampered pigs,” Cookston says. “You have no idea how spoiled they are. These are happy hogs, and I’m a firm believer that happy hogs taste better.”
To produce these “Utopian” hogs are the breeding of a 600-pound Berkshire sow with a boar of an undisclosed breed renowned for its fat content. Cookston controls the genes of the custom hybrid hogs, but the diet as well. One of the hog’s favorite treats are giant marshmallows.
Good luck, Melissa! We’re rooting for you!