After days of blissfully temperate weather, Houston punked the crowd at Go Pig Or Go Home with temperatures in the 90s. Fortunately, there was plenty of beer to go around at host location 8th Wonder Brewery and as far as the food, no one should have gone home hungry.
Judges Ronnie Killen (Killen’s Steakhouse and Killen’s Barbecue), Michael Pelligrino (Max’s Wine Dive, Anjeo), Lily Jang (KHOU Channel 11), Brian Ching (Houston Dash) and rapper/avid Houston food fan Bun B—clipboards in hand—made their way through over 20 offerings featuring pork. Live music from local alternative band Potbelly kept the festivities going.
The charitable beneficiary this year was OpHeart, which supports pediatric cardiac care by providing revolutionary 3-D printed versions of infants’ hearts to doctors in advance of surgery. The doctors are able to study and work on these exact-replica “practice hearts” before performing surgery on their patients.
This was pastry chef Rebecca Masson’s first time to compete and the Fluff Bake Bar owner acquitted herself admirably, tying for second place with Ryan Hildebrand of Triniti. Masson made a Kimchi Pork Belly Croissant while Hildebrand’s Pork Gyro also found a lot of favor with the judges.
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Top honors from the judges went to Richard Kaplan of Weights + Measures for his Panko Crusted Tete de Cochon with Kumquat Glaze and Bacon Fat Butternut Squash Panna Cotta. The judge’s trophy was a huge Championship Belt like what boxers receive after a good fight in the ring. Kaplan seemed thrilled with his prize, trying the belt on for size and raising it over his head in a victory stance.
Matt Marcus of Eatsie Boys, the food truck that’s a sister company to 8th Wonder Brewery, took home second for his Beer Braised Cabbage and Roasted Pig kolache.
Black Hill Meats supplied over 40 suckling pigs at-cost for the competition and also entered the fray. Perhaps the good karma came back to them sooner rather than later, as their sister company took first place in the People’s Choice category. The entry, a collaborative effort by Ranch To Kitchen home meat delivery service and caterer A Fare Extraordinaire, was Charcoal Grilled Mini Baos with pulled suckling pork and kimchi and blood sausage mini terrines.
Truth be told, everyone’s booth had delicious bites on-hand and judging had to have been super-tough. It’s a fair bet we’ll be treated to a fifth year of Go Pig Or Go Home! next year.