Windsor team battles over barbecue

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WINDSOR—Four-year-old Henry Pulley II stayed up until 1:30 a.m. Saturday. His father, Henry, pulled an all-nighter.

George Pulley of Windsor pulls apart barbecued baby back ribs for judging during the Hamtown Pork and Fork Fest at Isle of Wight Fairgrounds on Saturday. Pulley has won 45 national awards for his barbecue. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

The elder Pulley was competing in the Hamtown Pork and Fork Fest at Isle of Wight Fairgrounds, where other professional competitors stayed up all night cooking for the next day’s judging. His son got to spend the night.

“We pitched a tent,” Henry Pulley said.

Henry Pulley and his parents, George and Linda Sue Pulley, as a part of the 3Ps Cooking Team of Windsor, competed against 15 of the nation’s top barbecue cooks sanctioned by the Memphis BBQ Network.

Competitors start with a whole pig, which is cooked throughout the night. The Pulleys use a combination of oak and hickory to cook their pig.

“You have to make sure the temperature stays at 200 to 220 and that (the fire) is vented,” Henry Pulley said.

George Pulley began competing in 1993 and has won 45 national titles while traveling throughout the country. His wife appreciated having a competition in their own backyard.

“I think it’s wonderful that we don’t have to travel to Memphis or Florida,” Linda Sue Pulley said.

The Pulleys did not make the finals.

Connie Caruso and her husband, Rich Militano, traveled from Yardville, N.J. For the money they spent to compete, Caruso joked they could’ve spent a week in Bermuda.

Preparing for a competition involves preparing the sauces and rubs, equipping the trailer for hauling the cooker and preparing the meat. It’s all worth it, Caruso said.

“We both like to cook and it’s something we can do together,” she said.

To make it even better, they took third place in the pork shoulder division

Terry Rhinier, special events coordinator for Smithfield and Isle of Wight Tourism Bureau, was pleased with the two-day event sponsored by her agency and Smithfield Foods.

“The contestants were happy, and we had some great bands there,” Rhinier said.

For a donation to the ASPCA, visitors could try the barbecue and choose their favorite.

“For the People’s Choice contest, people had mounds of food on their plates,” Rhinier said.

Country Boys from Suffolk won the award. The team plans to open a restaurant in Smithfield.