If case ya’ll don’t know what Memphis-style means when it comes to barbecue, pitmaster Ernie Mellor is happy to explain.
“In the world of barbecue, there are four trains of thought: Kansas City barbecue, Texas barbecue, Memphis barbecue and Carolina barbecue. Memphis is far superior,” he said matter-of-factly in a telephone interview.
“It’s pulled by hand and cooked with spices — marinated for a short period and then slow-cooked over hard wood like oak or hickory or pecan.”
For the feast he’s planning for Saturday in Hanover Township, Mellor is bringing his own “Western Tennessee wood” and special spices that will enhance the flavor of pork ribs and a cut of pork shoulder called Boston butt.
Potato salad — that, too, will be Memphis-style — and cole slaw along with baked beans and banana pudding will round out the meal.
Proceeds will benefit “Center of the Village,” an after-school program at the Wyoming Valley Presbyterian Church in South Wilkes-Barre, which was recently formed from the merger of three separate churches.
“They’re doing good work,” said Mellor, who has visited the local church, where his sister, the Rev. Anne Emery, is pastor. He’s eager to donate his time and cooking talent.
Everyone from Martha Stewart, who included some of his recipes in her “Summer Grilling Cookbook,” to the judges at the Memphis in May World Barbecue Cooking Contest to Bobby Flay, who hosted him on his own barbecue show, seems to appreciate Mellor’s cooking, as do the people who have been buying tickets.
“They’ve been calling from Bloomsburg. They’re coming from all over,” said Mellor’s brother-in-law, Greg Emery, who is on staff at the church.
The barbecue will take place at R & D Memories in Hanover Township, where Emery expects Mellor will be stoking the fire already tonight. Seatings are from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 to 8 Saturday.
“I’ll be available for questions and answers,” Mellor said. “I expect I’ll have my ears full.”
Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children younger than 12.
They are available at Gallery of Sound locations in Wilkes-Barre and at the IBOP Coffee Shop at Northampton and Washington streets in Wilkes-Barre.