MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - Deep smoke, celery seed and popping flavors prove Memphis barbecue legends' sandwiches taste as distinctive as their ribs.
For the second week, three of the Mid-South's top chefs - Chef Ben Smith of Midtown's Tsunami (http://www.tsunamimemphis.com/), Chef Rick Farmer of L'Ecole Culinaire cooking school & restaurant (http://www.lecoleculinaire.com/memphis/) and Chef Luahn Thomas, L'Ecole Culinaire's assistant program director - tackled a blind tasting of barbecue from four of the Bluff City's undisputed champs:
* LEONARD'S PIT BARBECUE (http://www.leonardsbarbecue.com/)
* CHARLIE VERGOS'S RENDEZVOUS (http://www.hogsfly.com/)
* JIM NEELY'S INTERSTATE BARBECUE (http://www.interstatebarbecue.com/)
* COZY CORNER BBQ (http://www.cozycornerbbq.com/)
This time, the chefs dug into the restaurants' pork shoulder sandwiches. Each time, they could taste differences in seasoning, sauce and slaw that made it easier -- or sometimes, harder -- to identify the sandwich's maker.
"Some of them put heavier smoke (on their pork) than others," said Farmer.
"The balance, too," added Thomas. "When we found that the flavors -- it was a good sauce that had great smoke all the way through -- those were our favorites."
The chefs leaned toward Cozy Corner's sliced pork sandwich with its deep smoke and hoagie roll.
Pick up The Memphis Flyer's latest edition this week for its taste-testing of 12 Mid-South barbecue biggies' sandwiches. Then, come back here to link to the Flyer's Hungry Memphis food blog for more coverage of the tasting and the barbecue festival: http://www.memphisflyer.com/blogs/HungryMemphis.
No failing restaurants this week! For all of this week's Memphis-Shelby County restaurant inspection scores, please click here.