Food and Drink, Long Island City
Jun 04, 2013

Getting Personal with Tyson Ho, the “Arrogant” Hogmaster

An interview with whole hog master, Tyson Ho of John Brown Smokehouse

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Headache Because we see that a lot of you have a clear penchant for BBQ, Astoria, this week we bring you a very special “Getting Personal” with John Brown’s official whole hog master, Tyson Ho.  Specializing in Eastern North Carolina BBQ, Tyson proudly cooks up a whole hog during special events such as the upcoming, Hog Days of Summer.  If you like what you see here, make sure to sign up and get ready to enjoy the meat fest on June 22nd.

What is the Arrogant Swine and what was your inspiration for starting this project?

TH – The Arrogant Swine is a bunch of carnivores working to bring traditional North Carolina BBQ to New York. Traditional NC BBQ is smoking the entire hog for up to 16 hours over wood embers. This as old school as they come, rooter to tooter, everything but the squeal cooking.

I’m doing the Hog Days of Summer to showcase true NC BBQ because I think that whole hog is the best BBQ. Then again I also think my wife’s the hottest woman in Queens and that my cat is the cutest animal on the internet – your opinions might differ. So we’re doing these pop-ups with the most expensive pigs money can buy and cooking them in the traditional way to see if NYC will love it as much as I do. I’m confident they will.

What constitutes a successful BBQ for you? What are the essentials?

TH – My criterion for a successful BBQ is simple – can it invoke an involuntary smile? When people see the hog there’s always that involuntary smile. I’ve had vegans pose for photos next to my hogs. Wood & silliness are critical ingredients for good BBQ.

How did you start working with John Brown? What do you enjoy most about this collaboration?

TH – John Brown’s lawyer got them a 200lb heritage breed pig as an anniversary gift and an entire event was planned around it. Unfortunately there was really no way to shoehorn such a large animal into their smokers. So a mutual friend told them about this nutty hog guy with a car-sized smoker. From that day on I became JBS’ in-house whole hog guy charged with cooking at all hog events.

The most fun out of the collaboration is the difference in styles and BBQ philosophies Josh Bowen and I have. That dialogue between Kansas City/Texas and North Carolina is a lot of fun for me. He also made me fall in love with pecan wood. Here in NYC, all rival BBQ styles can break bread together.

What’s the most amazing BBQ you’ve had in Queens?

TH – A shameless plug for the BBQ family – but I love the brisket over at Alchemy Texas (sister to John Brown’s). It’s cooked in an Oyler pit, the single greatest smoker in Queens, and basted with beer and foie gras. It’s amazing because I actually enjoy it; I’m normally not a big brisket fan. Make sure you get a beef rib there as well.

What do you love about Queens? What do you love about Astoria?

TH – I love Queens because it’s the home I grew up in. I went to college in Texas and stayed for a spell in Arizona but it’s not home if I can’t have noodles anytime I feel like. I love Astoria because where else can I shop at a Romanian butcher, grab tonkotsu ramen for lunch, and get zatar spices & merguez sausages for dinner all in one hood? And that’s not even scratching the surface!

2 Comments

Tyson

Adam

I don’t know if there’s a great story in there. A convoluted tale yes. Hope to see you at a Hog Days event and I’ll definitely bore you with the details. :-)

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Adam

Great insight here. Nice interview. How did Tyson Ho, a Queens native who did some time in Texas, come to be cooking Carolina-style whole hog? There’s gotta be a great story in there somewhere!

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