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Brazilian barbecuers use Memphis in May experience to help popularize American BBQ in home country

Published: May. 14, 2022 at 9:56 PM CDT|Updated: May. 14, 2022 at 11:51 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Two Brazilians, Bruno Panhoca and Adriano Pedro, are revolutionizing the world of American-style barbecue in their home country, and they’re using their experience in the U.S. to help them.

Eight years ago, Panhoca was one of only three certified pitmasters in Brazil, so he says.

Since then, he’s received sponsorships from companies like Jim Beam, a celebrity BBQ personality in Brazil.

“Nobody was doing (American barbecue),” Panhoca said. “I said ‘that’s a good market. If nobody is doing it, we have an opportunity.’”

Whereas Pedro is a caterer, cooking barbecue for large events.

The two met Memphian Brent Little, head pitmaster for Pig Diamonds, one of the teams in Memphis in May’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

Little, an engineer, was working in Sao Paulo when he met the two.

“I met Brent on Instagram,” Panhoca said. “I did a post doing some ribs, some pork ribs, and I said ‘that’s the Memphis style.’ I received a message in lousy Portuguese from Google Translate: ‘Thanks for spreading the work of Memphis in Brazil.”

When Pedro met Little, they bonded over smoking bologna.

The two went to the same butcher shop, and over time their culinary relationship went beyond just bologna.

“We started talking all the time, doing recipes together, and then he invited me to come (to Memphis in May),” Pedro said.

Little invited the two to join Pig Diamonds in 2019, fulfilling a dream both had to put their cooking skills to the test on the world stage.

“I never had a chance to come, but I knew how big it was,” Pedro said.

“We’re competing against idols, people that I never imagined to shake hands with,” Panhoca added.

Pig Diamonds received first prize for their mustard based BBQ sauce on Friday night, the team’s first trophy in seven years.

“We are world champions,” exclaimed Panhoca.

“There are no words to describe it because everybody was just cheering and screaming like crazy. We were not adults in that moment,” said Pedro.

On cloud 9, a cloud of smoke that is, the two will go home with memories to last a lifetime, but they’ll be back next year and however many years they’re able to make it to Memphis in May, as this competition is a part of them now.

“I’m a life member, forever,” Panhoca said, gesturing the Pig Diamonds tattoo on his forearm.

When asked if there will be an all-Brazilian team participating in Memphis in May, the two both said to watch for next year.

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