Finger-Lickin' Fun At Gautier Pig Out Festival - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Finger-Lickin' Fun At Gautier Pig Out Festival

Team Preparation H swears their meat will soothe your soul.

"We cooked this shoulder for 14 hours, and we're very pleased with how it turned out,"  team leader Henry Tillman said.

But it's these fearless men and women who will be the judge of that.

"Please don't talk to anybody!" one contest director warned.

Of course talk wasn't necessary, because today, it's all about the taste. One judge shared his strategy.

"You have to look at it, decide which piece you wanna get, and then when you decided that, you grab it and get after it. And when you get after it, you'll know the tenderness, the taste, and all the goodness mixed up in the meat," judge Shawn Panni said.

But it takes more than just goodness to earn a perfect 10.

"When you taste it your mouth has to pop, you know you've got a  good meat when your mouth pops!" Panni said.

When a judge puts on their apron to test the food, they're looking for three things: taste, appearance, and tenderness. But what makes a perfect 10? It's a matter of personal preference.

"It's got to be tender, juicy, ribs especially have to fall off the bone," judge Bob Dever said.

"It's real sweet and has a good wood flavor to it," Panni said.

"I look for the spices more than anything. It's got to be spiced just right," judge Nidja J said.         

Whatever the trick, the scores are serious business. An empty plate is a tell-tale sign of a near perfect score. These judges say it's all finger-licking good.

"We're on the see-food diet, we see food, and we eat it!" Dever and J. said.

That "pig-out mentality" is the secret ingredient Team Preparation H swears by.

"We'd like for them to say "Mmmm good!" Tillman said.

Eighteen teams competed in this weekend's Pig Out, and it wasn't just about the meat. Saturday's judging awarded prizes to dishes like gumbo and potato salad.

By Keli Rabon

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