While it initially seemed strange that Charlie McKenna — a fine dining veteran of both Tru and Avenues — would open a barbecue joint in Bucktown called Lillie’s Q last year, it made sense once we learned that McKenna and his dad had been competing on the barbecue circuit for years. In fact, the two actually won the pork shoulder category at the prestigious Memphis In May World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest in 2007. They’ve continued the pilgrimage down to Memphis ever since, and this year placed 12th overall in the pork shoulder category, missing the top 10 for the first time in five years by less than .1 points. Heartbreaking! Still, the crew decided to take a camera along, and it amounts to something of a free online guide to competition barbecue. Vegetarians should probably look away.
Watch as McKenna talks through the specifics of prepping a pork shoulder, injecting it with flavor, and how one goes about presenting barbecue to the judges. All told, this looks like way more work than we imagined, though we were assured that the crew was able to have a few drinks along the way. Check out the prepping stage below, and see if you can pick out any tips.