(This post was originally published on June 13th and was updated on June 26th to include new event dates)
One of the best things about BBQ is that it is done low and slow so there is plenty of time to meet new people at events and make new friends. At the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party I met Tyson Ho aka the Arrogant Swine. Tyson, specialize in North Carolina style whole hog and has learned from one of the best in legendary pitmaster Ed Mitchell.
Tyson has some great NYC whole hog events coming up in Long Island City and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Each day has an afternoon session (12 PM – 4 PM) and an evening session (5 PM – 9 PM), so here are the dates with links to buy tickets:
- June 29th in Greenpoint, BROOKLYN – Purchase Tickets HERE
- July 20th in Long Island City, QUEENS – Purchase Tickets HERE
- August 17th in Long Island City, QUEENS – Purchase Tickets HERE
- August 24th in Greenpoint, BROOKLYN – Purchase Tickets HERE
- September 14th in Long Island City, QUEENS – Purchase Tickets HERE
- September 21st in Greenpoint, BROOKLYN – Purchase Tickets HERE
We took a few minutes to sit down and chat about BBQ, life and what got Tyson started in the world of BBQ.
Q: How did you get your start in the world of BBQ?
Arrogant Swine (AS): Right out of high school I worked in 3 and 4 starred restaurants in Manhattan. After doing that for a few years I left the culinary world, went to college and got a “regular” job. BBQ was a fun excuse to cook large volumes of food like in my kitchen days.
After tinkering around with different BBQ cuts I started to specialize in cooking the whole hog with Carolina legend Ed Mitchell as my main teacher. I’m currently the whole hogger in residence at John Brown Smokehouse where I take care of all hog events.
Q: Where did the name Arrogant Swine come from?
AS: Literally it was the only “pig” url available. I spent months trying every variant spelling of hog, pig, piggie, piggy etc. I tried every color e.g. red hog, blue pig, yellow pig etc. Basically someone has bought up every single bbq name possible to sit on it. Then one day I saw someone drinking an Arrogant Bastard ale. I looked up Arrogant Swine and I was the Arrogant Swine from then on.
Q: What is your favorite BBQ to cook; Brisket, Ribs, Whole Hog, Butt? Why?
AS: I’m a whole hog guy. I love having the flavor of each part of the pig all mixed together. Plus it just that much more fun to deal with animals the size of NFL line backers. It’s like why mountain climbers are compelled to tackle Mt Everest – because it’s there!
Q: Your upcoming events Hog Days of Summer are North Carolina style hog. Explain what North Carolina style BBQ is.
AS: North Carolina BBQ is the slow smoking of the whole pig over hardwood embers. We burn wood down to coals and shovel it underneath the pig all night in a manner that will get the shoulders and hams cooked while keeping the loins moist and juicy. I mainly smoke with oak but for the summer we might mix in some peach or pecan woods.
BBQ is noun in North Carolina. You might see BBQ chicken, or BBQ ribs, but when people say “BBQ” as a noun they mean hog.
Q: North Carolina whole hog is served traditionally with a pepper and vinegar sauce instead of a tomato based BBQ sauce. How do you feel about people that prefer regular BBQ Sauce?
AS: People will gravitate towards what they know and there are plenty others in NYC who will pour on the regular stuff. I’m looking to share the extra-ordinary. I did a lot of the saucing at the Big Apple BBQ party and there are plenty who come up to me asking for more sauce because they’re used to seeing a sloppy red sauce. I tell them to try the BBQ first, most of the time the reaction is the same. They take a bite. Their eyes roll up. No further sauce is asked for.
Obviously it won’t please everyone. Just like you will never move some people away from Coors light. Many many people will take a swig of Alchemist Double IPA and spit it on the ground. But we must keep with our traditions because the world needs amazing beer and hardcore BBQ. Exceptional people seek out the two and we want exceptional people to share it with.
Q: For anyone first getting into BBQ, especially in NYC where space and ability to have grills is limited, what advice would you give them? Any tips for apartment cooking to get true smoke flavor? (Without setting off all the fire alarms)
AS: If you don’t have a grill and want to practice just cook in your oven at 250F-275F. Smoke flavor is only one component of BBQ. The other is texture which is very hard to learn. Anyone can get ribs cooked, very few make laud-worthy ribs. God help anyone trying to learn smoking and brisket cooking at the same time. So play the oven, record your times, your temperatures. Once you got that down finding a means to put the wood cooking into action is matter of passion.
Q: I am a beer guy, do you have any favorite que and brew pairings?
AS: I feel wheat beers are best for whole hog. It draws into mind the iced teas which are required drinking down South. So if you’re looking for a flavor profile, think black tea, citrus, nothing too hoppy.
Q: Where can our readers follow your adventures? (FB, Twitter, Website, etc… I will link them all)