Alumnus praises the lard – Daily Egyptian

milwakee wi 1st place ribsThis weekend marked the 27th-annual Praise the Lard barbecue cook-off in Murphysboro. The event featured 76 teams from 14 different states and a team from Germany.

Randy Twyford, owner of Twyford BBQ & Catering, entered Praise the Lard this year for the fifth year in a row. He competed in both the Kansas City Barbeque Society and Memphis Barbecue Network competitions at the event.

Twyford, 54, of Jacksonville, graduated from SIU in 1982 with a degree in general agriculture with minors in animal science and journalism.

Twyford left his job at Valspar Paint in November 2008 to commit to his barbecue business full time. While still at Valspar, he participated in barbecue competitions and only catered small orders.

He and his wife Marla purchased a food truck four years ago and use the truck to sell barbecue ever since.

Marla Twyford and Ruben Gomez make up the rest of the Twyford BBQ team.

“I’m the chemist of the team,” Marla said. “I mix sauces, pick out flavor components, and build the competition boxes.”

Randy and Marla met Gomez five years ago at their first duel event. Gomez already had experience in barbecue and helped the newcomers. Now, Gomez helps the team as an advisor and consultant. He also helps with seasoning, cleaning and prep work, Randy said.

This year, the Twyfords took a step back from competitions because of two family tragedies.

Praise the Lard was the couple’s second event this year.

“We come here to win,” he said. “If you don’t think you can win, you might as well stay at home.”

Twyford BBQ had success in the MBN ribs competition, finishing third out of 18 teams.

Judging for the MBN competition consists of individual presentations in groups of three with the best team moving on to the finals.

Chuck Averwater, 61 of Memphis, Tenn. is a judge for the MBN, KCBS and Memphis In May competitions.

“MBN uses three judges who come to the team’s table individually,” Averwater said. “Teams have 15 minutes to give a presentation to the individual judges. The judges critique the team’s entries on appearance, tenderness, flavor and overall impression. One team in each group must receive a 10 for overall impression.”

KCBS is judged by using a blind taste test. Teams must present their selected meat in a plastic foam box issued by the sanctioning body. Teams must turn in their food by the established drop-off times.

For KCBS, Twyford entered all four categories including chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Out of 57 teams, Twyford finished 24th, 48th, 37th and 30th respectively.

As much as the competition is about winning, Twyford said it’s equally about the camaraderie of the competitors.

“Some of the best friends we have are from barbecue teams throughout the country,” he said. “The whole camaraderie of the barbecue industry, and the competitions, people can’t believe it.”

Mike Mills, of Murphysboro, said although everyone will help each other out, the ultimate goal is to win.

“Teams dream of having the winning taste, the winning barbecue,” he said.


Article by Brent Meske
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