This summer, the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach is going whole hog.
As part of its wide array of summer continuing education cooking classes for all ages, the Institute will host renowned pitmaster and entrepreneur Phil Wingo for a two-day barbecue intensive on Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11.
Wingo, a two-time World Food Championships [WFC] competitor and Culinary Fight Club champion, is also the creator of a line of seasonings, marinades and rubs under his brand, #porkmafia. He is also a caterer, food judge and consultant.
International Culinary Institute executive director, Chef Joe Bonaparte, met Wingo in 2015 at a boucherie event hosted by Tank Jackson at his heritage farm, Holy City Hogs, in Wadlamaw Island.
According to Eater New Orleans, a boucherie is a “traditional, community-oriented affair where a whole bunch of people get together and cook a pig. The whole damn thing.”
Bonaparte cites the Holy City Hogs boucherie as a camp situation, with due respect given to the animal – humanely raised and now killed as humanely as possible – the end result being the use of the whole hog with no waste whatsoever.
Bringing in Wingo for the barbecue class is in line with Bonaparte’s ultimate vision for the Institute’s barbecue training center.
“My idea with this barbecue center is to expand it and bring in a specialist six times a year or more – and get more than we would teach as far as barbecue and backyard grilling,” he said.
Bonaparte recalls meeting Wingo at the Holy City Hogs event.
“He’s a real personable guy, and he was out there all weekend, cooking all kinds of stuff. We stayed in contact, and I asked him if he wanted to do a class. We worked out some details.”
Wingo, 53, said he caught the barbecue bug when he was nearing 30.
“I was an ironworker for 25 years, doing construction in the Chicago area – and the construction industry dropped out of the market and everything took a dump. I had to do something else,” he said.
Because he already enjoyed cooking in his backyard and was interested in barbecue contests, he signed up for a judging class through an organization called Memphis In May International Festival, which according to its website, “hosts the city’s largest events like the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Memphis in May also produces extensive education, international, and economic programs for the city.”
After judging for a time, Wingo realized that he was more a cook than a judge, and began cooking in between judging obligations.
“I started catering and did a tailgate business,” he said. “I was cooking for sporting events where I would be cooking for 30 people or 200 people. I also got lucky and won a few contests – and it kind of just exploded.”
His business, #porkmafia [www.porkmafia.us] is thriving also – offering signature seasonings under that brand as well as producing private-label seasonings and rubs for restaurants, barbecue teams and others.
His passion for barbecue has taken him around the world, as far afield as Finland, the Netherlands [Amsterdam] and Israel. When Wingo spoke to The Sun News for this story, he was back in Memphis for Memphis in May.
As for the barbecue class, the word “intensive” makes sense to Wingo.
“A lot of people think about going to a class like this and just want to watch. No, we would prefer you go ahead and get a piece of meat and get your hands sticky. We want them to be involved, so they know what to do when they are home,” he said.
What can people expect from the two-day class?
“We will prep on the first day, and one of the last things we will do will be putting the pig into the smoker. That will be the meal on the second day. We are going to do chicken, beef brisket and sides in between that time.”
The event is inclusive – open to anybody and all skill levels.
“I think it’s great, because I don’t mind getting the new people into it – because once they go to something like this, they’re hooked,” he said.
Barbecue is an intensely regional affair, and while Wingo acknowledges that there are different styles, he claims none of them as his own.
“I try to get people who cook to call it their own style,” he said. “Whether it’s low and slow or hot and fast, you’ve got to make it your own and be happy with the end product.”
The two-day class takes place Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $425, awarding 1.400 Continuing Education Units upon completion.
For more information about this class as well as a listing of all summer continuing education food classes for adults and children at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, visit http://www.hgtc.edu/jobtraining or call (843) 477-2020.