From team members to competitors, two tents sit feet from each other at WCBCC

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 3:15 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Brent Little and his team the Pig Diamonds sit at Liberty Park this week, looking to take the top prize in the whole hog category of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest.

“...that coveted Memphis in May trophy. It’s known globally,” Little emphasized.

Little, an engineer who moved to Memphis from North Carolina in 2013, got a chance to showcase his talents at the last year’s SEC Championship Game for the inaugural Johnsonville Titanium Tongsman Contest.

His recipe won a submission contest: shaping a sausage into a circle and putting it on a hamburger bun with cheese in the middle.

It’s Little’s way of paying homage to the appetizer many Mid-Southerners enjoy, the sausage and cheese platter.

“My first bite of Memphis was tasting that cheese and sausage with the dry rub on it and you get that cheese with it. That’s something unique to Memphis,” Little said.

At the Tongsman Challenge, Little was paired with 7-time BBQ World Champion Melissa Cookston to help prepare the dish.

They won the grand prize.

“...have (Cookston) as my sous chef? Melissa Cookston as my sous chef? That was a shock in itself,” Little said, reminiscing last December.

“My job was basically to be a cheerleader,” Cookston said. “I’ve never done that before, so that was new for me. We had a fantastic time.”

6 months later, the two are now competitors in whole hog at WCBCC, their tents just feet away from one another.

You can throw a set of tongs from one tent and hit the other.

Cookston says the BBQ competition isn’t as cut-throat as some may think.

“It’s a lot of friends that you only see once a year,” said Cookston. “We’re all in one area, and really we’re just wishing each other the best.”

“You know, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, they all come to Memphis for this competition,” said Little.

So whether it’s as competitors or team members, one thing is for sure, barbeque brings the world together during Memphis in May.

“I really wish Brent the best,” Cookston said. “I know he’ll do well. He is a great competitor, and if I can’t win, I hope he does.”

Cookston got 3rd last year in whole hog, Little finished 11th.

Little is shooting for a top-10 spot this year.

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