Garland Hudgins has won over 35 trophies since he began partaking in barbecue competitions. Over 11 of those were first-place trophies.
Rebecca Hudgins, a certified barbecue judge, attends all events with Garland. Both of them say that they do everything relating to barbecue together. They have been together since 2009.
The Quaker Steak & Lube is one of many restaurants Garland Hudgins does business with. He teaches classes there and prepares them for upcoming barbecue events. The next one will be held on May 30 and 31.
By Manny Correa
Few people in South Carolina can claim to know barbecue better than Garland Hudgins.
Hudgins, a charter member of the South Carolina Barbeque Association, traces his love of barbecue back to his father, who would drive 100 miles to eat good barbecue. Garland remembers waking up Saturday mornings, “and we’d jump in the car and ride two hours to eat a barbecue lunch. That’s what got me into it.”
As a child, Hudgins used to cook whole hogs on wood and coal pits in North Carolina. He continues to cook that way in Columbia, S.C., as he teaches barbecue classes and competes in barbecue contests every couple of weeks.
Hudgins and his wife, Rebecca, founded Carolina Outdoor Cooking in 2010. It is not a moneymaking venture, he said, but rather a hobby and a tool to help give back to the community. He doesn’t make a living from barbecue because “it doesn’t pay the bills,” he said. “That’s for sure.” Hudgins – who used to be a DJ at nightclubs, weddings and almost every event imaginable – now is a technical supervisor at Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The Hudginses have earned over 30 awards since they started competing in 2004, which includes 11 first-place awards.
Despite his success, Hudgins said the main reason he does what he does is to give back to the community. “Not only was I benefiting by having fun – and maybe winning a prize here and there – but there were also other people getting benefits from it, too,” he said. “Every event we ever competed in was for a charity. It just does your heart good to see. No matter what we do, we don’t lose the focus on what the whole benefit is at the end – raising money and helping somebody else.”
Hudgins said some of the most rewarding experiences in his barbecue career were the Family Connections contests. Family Connections is a special needs group that raises money for children with disabilities such as autism.
Hudgins, who “loves helping children,” has won the Family Connections contest twice in a row and calls it his “claim to fame.”
In fact, the first time he and his wife, Rebecca, won a contest together was at a Family Connections event in 2009. Hudgins and Rebecca recall the day as being cold and windy. The two had labored to make barbecue in the middle of the storm all day and all night until, the next day, they were chosen as the competition’s winners. It was only their third time competing as a team.
Making barbecue, consulting for others and judging competitions are all passions for Hudgins and Rebecca, he said. But he stresses that his primary goal for doing what he does is to help people.
“We do competitions, we put up barbecue classes and we consult with people putting on their own fundraisers,” he said. “Basically what we do is go out and cook barbecue, have fun and give back.”