DR. JOSHUA SHOOK
The Meat Doctor
HAMTOWN SMOKERS COMPETITION BBQ TEAM IS BASED OUT OF SMITHFIELD VA – THE HAM CAPITAL OF THE WORLD – AND IS LED BY PITMASTER DR. JOSHUA SHOOK, AKA THE MEAT DOCTOR (PER TUFFY STONE). JOSH HOLDS A FOOD SCIENCE PH.D. FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY WHERE HE SPECIALIZED IN MEAT SCIENCE AND MUSCLE BIOLOGY.
Josh’s deep-rooted passion for meat and meat processing originated as a freshman at the University of Georgia where he learned the butchering trade at the UGA Meat Science and Technology Center. He now uses his extensive meat knowledge to lead various innovative efforts in new product development at Smithfield Foods. This same knowledge also gives the HamTown Smokers team an edge in building complex flavors and smoking techniques that makes their barbeque a force to be reckoned with on the competition circuit.
Along with very good friends (JJ and Craig) and his wife (Heidi), they entered their first contest in 2017, where they were fortunate enough to receive 1st place in pork, 3rd place in ribs, and 10th place over. After this finish, the excitement level and passion quickly escalated. They finished their first year with 5 Top 10 finishes out of 6 contests which included 1 Reserve Grand Championship
GET TO KNOW JOSHUA SHOOK
Through his experiences at Smithfield Foods, Joshua was able to make lasting friendships with pitmasters such as Sterling Ball (aka Big Poppa), Tuffy Stone (aka The Professor), and Chris Lily who motivated him to try competition BBQ. He quickly built his own Big Poppa drum smokers and began practicing.
During his college years, Josh spent countless hours cooking whole hogs on a homemade cinderblock pit. He developed an appreciation for cooking directly over coals as the flavor that is developed by this method of cooking is unique compared to the flavors developed by other indirect methods. Based on this knowledge, he elects to utilize the direct method for cooking their competition meats. He accomplishes this by using a variety of drum smokers from Gateways to homemade drums made using Big Poppa smoker kits. There is something magical about the simplicity, yet complex method to cooking great meat over a simple bed of coals.
While beef is always a family favorite, Josh has a devotion to pork. Traditionally, pork has been thought of as “the other white meat”, having less elegance and flavor than beef. However, this could not be further from the truth. A well marbled pork shoulder or rack of St. Louis ribs with a dark rich red color has the potential to be one of the most flavorful pieces of meat you have ever cooked, but do not forget about the sophistication of a well smoked pork belly. In all, pork provides numerous well marbled, juicy, flavorful cuts when given the proper time and attention that is so well deserves.
ABOUT SMITHFIELD FOODS AND HAMTOWN
2018 proves to be their first full year on the KCBS circuit with an anticipation to compete in at least 15 contests. While their competitive nature drives them, they truly enjoy the time spent at contests with their families, as their children (Brynleigh, Wager, Liam, Grayson, and Ellie) all look forward to competition weekends and cooking “meat” with their families.
While none of the children are old enough to compete in Kids Q’s just yet, they are excited for the day to come where they can watch their children begin to develop the same passion for outdoor cooking that drives their parents. To them, BBQ is the ultimate family sport and they look forward to every weekend they get to spend with their families pursuing their passion.
GREATEST BBQ ACHIEVEMENT
While the competitive team of HamTown smokers is still in its first full year of competition, they have had numerous achievements to be proud of. One that rises to the Top is being crowd Reserve National Pork BBQ Champion by the National Pork Board at the 2018 Giant National Capital BBQ Battle against some of the best competition in the country. This award is a result of the combined scores from the blind judging of pork shoulder and pork ribs as well as an onsite score in both categories. To compete in such a contest on Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital was a great honor, but to be awarded as 1 of the Top 2 pork cooks at this particular contest was a very rewarding accomplishment.