Carey Bringle is the barbecue mastermind behind Peg Leg Porker (www.peglegporker.com), a brand of barbecue products and a Nashville, Tennessee restaurant specializing in dry-rubbed ribs and pulled pork. Bringle spoke with Gambit about his return to this week's Boudin, Bourbon & Beer (see Fork + Center, p.39) and how "barbetude" affects the barbecue community.
This is your third year participating in Boudin, Bourbon & Beer. How did you become involved in the event?
Bringle: I've been cooking barbecue for about 30 years, and I started the Peg Leg Porker brand about 12 or 13 years ago with sauces and rubs. I met Donald Link through the Southern Foodways Alliance and we became friends. He invited me to come and cook at this event before I even had a restaurant, so the first year I did it, I didn't even have a space open yet. I've been doing Boudin [Bourbon] & Beer ever since. I love the event, and I love to be able to come down and visit with Donald and Steven [Stryjewski] and everyone.
I also come down and do Hogs for the Cause, which I've been doing for three or four years. I've got some guys that I cook with that are on my barbecue team at Memphis in May, but I'm on their team when I cook in New Orleans, including Adam Biderman (of The Company Burger).
What are you preparing for the event?
B: We do the same dish every year, and it's called Memphis sushi. It's a saltine with cheddar cheese and house-made kielbasa with some of the dry seasoning and barbecue sauce on it. We deviate a little from the regular stuff; I figure that they're getting boudin from 49 other chefs, so we use a different kind of sausage. It's kind of a one-bite dish, which is nice. It's been a real hit.
How did you learn to barbecue?
B: I learned to barbecue from my Uncle Bruce. My whole family is from west Tennessee, but I was born and raised in Nashville. My family is from Covington and Memphis, and [barbecue's] something that's always been very revered and important to our family. My granddad was an OB-GYN and he delivered a lot of the children of the west Tennessee barbecue families. My uncle competed in the very first Memphis in May and taught me how to cook real young.
If folks are just learning how to barbecue, I'd tell them to go cook with a team to get a good sense of it. Most people in the barbecue community are very open and very willing to share what they do; we don't have a lot of secrets. We believe if you're keeping secrets, you're not teaching the next generation how to barbecue.
Some of the people can get too serious about it with the competitions, and they get what we call "barbetude," which is a bad barbecue attitude. We like to say, "Look, this isn't rocket science; it's barbecue." It's about friends, family and community, and you need to lighten up about yourself or you don't need to be doing it. — SARAH BAIRD