Pin It

3-Course Interview: Jeff Struckhoff & James Cruse 

The barbecue pitmasters talk about what it takes to compete in Hogs for the Cause

click to enlarge 3course-1.jpg

The Aporkalypse Now team was named High on the Hog Grand Champion and won the Best Ribs and Best Whole Hog awards at 2015's Hogs for the Cause, a barbecue and pig roast festival that raises funds to support families dealing with pediatric brain cancer. Team captain Jeff "Chickenfoot the Goat Slayer" Struckhoff, an attorney at team-sponsoring law firm Galloway Johnson, and pitmaster James Cruse spoke to Gambit about smoking a hog and competing at the event.

What makes a winning team?

Cruse: Communication is huge with us. Throughout the year we focus on the charity aspect and developing the team. I travel the country competing. We pass recipes back and forth through email. You need to go in there on top of your game, prepared.

  A lot of guys will Google, "How long does it take to cook a hog?" and that doesn't work. You've got ambient temperature, the size of the hog, moisture content, marbling, thermal mass and fat content. All that plays into it. The hog will tell you when it's done.

Struckhoff: At the competition, timing is everything. For the whole hog, if you are turning it in to the judges at 2:30, you don't want it done at 8 a.m. The same goes for public food. At the event, we have parallel tracks: We have competition food that has to be executed at a certain time, and we also have to have a steady flow of public food coming out.