The annual Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest will be held in Tom Lee Park on the banks of the mighty Mississippi May 17-19. Memphis in May is one of the big ones when it comes to barbecue festivals. Hundreds of teams compete for over $110,000 in prize money and the prestigious honor of World Champion. Last year a team of four James Beard award-winning chefs came together with three Southern pitmasters to form The Fatback Collective. This juggernaut, which included our own Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, managed to earn second place in the whole hog category in their first competition. They will return this year to go for the big prize.
There will also be local Nashville teams included, not the least notable of which will be Carey Bringle's Peg Leg Porker team. If you drop by his booth and mention you're from Nashville and Bites sent you, he might even let you take a turn at the legendary ice luge he crafted from an old salad bar. Ticket info, including the chance to buy a V.I.Pit pass, is available at the festival's website.
They've added a Southern Food Writing Conference with a host of famous and infamous Southern writers, including Jennifer Cole from Southern Living, Jennifer Justus (the best thing about The Tennessean), Brett Anderson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Nashville food writing legend John Egerton. A complete list of the speakers and the full schedule are available at the event website. Here's the skinny on the rest of the conference:
The Southern Food Writing Conference celebrates the art and the craft of writing about food in the South. Join our outstanding panel of speakers as we explore various facets of food in the South, from traditions of cookbooks and family recipes, to the connections of race, gender, income and the environment to the food traditions of the South. You will interact with some of the legends of Southern food writing, and meet the next generation of the profession. Professionals from the worlds of newspapers, magazines, books and blogs will bring their perspectives on the current state of Southern food and those who write about it.
The conference is designed for both the writers and the readers of Southern food writing. Food enthusiasts, professional journalists, food bloggers, as well as devotees of all things Southern will enjoy the two day program we have prepared for you.
Whether you head east or west, there's some great eating and socializing to be done the weekend of May 18-19. Of course, that's my girlfriend's birthday so I'm in trouble either way. Might as well get yelled at with a bellyful of barbecue ...