New B.R. BBQ restaurant places fifth in national cook-off

New B.R. BBQ restaurant places fifth in national cook-off

The 12-hour brisket was nothing out of the ordinary: smoked the same way Bushwood BBQ has been preparing it since opening for business just four months ago at 4347 Perkins Road. But it was good enough on Friday to be judged fifth in the beef category at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest 2012.

"It wasn't officially a win, but being in the top 10 of that category was just insane," says Bushwood BBQ chef and co-owner Justin Page, noting that the brisket was placed highest in the beef category, trailing four tenderloins.

While the Memphis in May website lists only first-, second- and third-place winners, program coordinator Cindy Ring confirmed the fifth-place finish in beef for team Bushwood Country Club, led by Bushwood BBQ.

The barbecuing team, Page says, was the genesis for Bushwood BBQ. He and his three partners—Chris Holman, Matt McCollister and John White—had become members more than two years ago, traveling to Memphis for the annual cook-off and gaining an education in all meats sauce-heavy and slow-cooked. The four men, all University High School graduates, got the blessing from other barbecue team members to incorporate Bushwood into their eatery's name and this year were put in charge of entering a beef dish.

"We thought it'd be cool to see how this brisket stacks up, just as how we serve it in the restaurant," Page says.

And so on Thursday night they began the cooking process, napping in sleeping bags next to the meat and keeping the fire just right. "When we pulled that thing off the smoker, it was insane how perfect it was. I don't even honestly know how it happened."

Page says having a difficult dish finish so high among nearly 300 teams in a nationally prestigious contest is a big achievement and boost of confidence. In fact, he and team members are now considering driving the extra distance to enter in the country's other famous cook-off: The American Royal barbecue in Kansas City, which runs from early September to mid-November.

Ring says she knows of no Baton Rouge-led team winning a category in the 36 years the Memphis in May contest has taken place.

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