MIM Scrapbook #4 – Pork Barrel BBQ talks to BBQ Legend and World Champion Pat Burke of Tower Rock BBQ
Some say legends are born – that an opportunity in time presents itself and the stars align and transfer one from a position of commonality into a legend. As a kid I was sure my transformational moment would come in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, a three ball two strike count with my team down no less than three runs in the pivotal game seven of the most important World Series in the history of baseball. With one swift swing of the bat I’d go from a who is he to a legend – that’s how legends can be born.
Others say legends are made – that one can’t go unnoticed for too long if they keep repeating greatness. These are the folks who go about their business not seeking the recognition they deserve, no, they go about their business simply doing what they know how to do at the highest possible level it can be done. Sooner or later people start talking and the legend starts growing. These are legends built over time and many accolades, accolades that are not achieved by the alignment of stars, but through hard work, dedication and skill – that’s how legends can be made.
The word legend is often thrown around without much consideration – after all, if we were all legends none of us could actually be one. What cannot be argued is that barbecue has legends, both born and made. Pork Barrel BBQ was fortunate enough to cross paths with several of them at this years Memphis in May.
It was a hot Wednesday afternoon, as sticky as a good sweet BBQ sauce, as we pulled into our site and struggled to keep cool. At first glance, we failed to note just who our neighbor for the weekend was. At the time there was just too much going on and we were trying to track our rented picket fence down (how would we survive our first Memphis in May without a rented picket fence we were asking ourselves?). The fence finally came, the Weber Smokey Mountains were all set up and the heat of the day began to subside, finally giving us a chance at repose and the time to take note of our surroundings. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we had won the lottery, heck you might have thought we had already won Memphis in May – in many ways maybe we had.
Just inches from our three Weber Smokey Mountains stood the beautiful trailer of Tower Rock BBQ out of Murphysboro, IL. Yes, the Tower Rock BBQ lead by Pat Burke of Apple City Barbecue Fame where he won three World Championships at Memphis in May with his partner Mike Mills. Our first meeting came on Thursday morning and we knew from that moment on we were in for a special weekend.
Pat and his crew showered us rookie’s with their generous hospitality – not only can he cook a mean pork shoulder, he can cook one heck of a bacon and egg sandwich! It was a great honor for us to learn some of Pat’s tips and tricks – he is an encyclopedia of BBQ and truly a legend.
In one year of BBQ competitions Pat and his Apple City team won 14 of the 17 contests they entered – it is clear that his legendary status was made by repeating greatness. Pat was kind enough to take some time to talk BBQ with Pork Barrel BBQ - here is that interview.
Stay tuned for more of our Memphis in May Scrapbook and an interview with Pat’s Apple City teammate Mike Mills, another legend of BBQ.