When the Pork Checkoff challenged grillers to show off their chops, competitors nationwide took pork to the next level. BJ Hoffman of Grimes, Iowa, has been named America’s Top #ChopGriller for his tip of grilling rib-eye bone-in pork chops upright, which allows the small fat strip to melt and self-baste for easy saucing.

“I ask my butcher to cut my pork rib-eyes one and a half inches thick, so the nice, thick bone acts as a solid foundation,” said Hoffman, who competes on the barbecue circuit with his Honeybadger BBQ team.

The #ChopGriller contest encouraged pork fans to visit PorkBeinspired.com, choose their favorite pork chop (porterhouse, bone-in rib-eye, boneless rib-eye or New York) and submit a 140-character entry describing what makes their pork chop the top chop. Eight finalists (two from each pork-chop category) were selected, and Americans across the country had the chance to weigh in on who they thought had what it takes to be named America’s Top #ChopGriller.

“This contest encouraged pork fans to show their passion and to Grill Pork Like a Steak while learning more about the new cut names and cooking temperatures,” said Pamela Johnson, director of consumer communications for the Pork Checkoff.

Forget Ordinary BBQ
Chef and cookbook author Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe helped spread the word and served up extra inspiration by sharing his tips to keep chops tender and juicy.

“Pork chops are the perfect complement to the grill,” Lampe said. “My secret to grilling the ultimate pork chop that nobody can resist is to cook it like a steak – between 145 and 160 degrees, followed by a three-minute rest.”

Lampe also shared his new recipes for Spice-Crusted Ribeye Pork Chop with Mango Sauce and Dry-Rubbed Porterhouse Pork Chops with Steakhouse Butter, which are featured at PorkBeInspired.com. In addition, he showcased the Pork Checkoff’s “Grill It Like A Steak!SM” message during a national media tour at the start of the summer grilling season.

“This resulted in many top-market interviews and placements in media outlets, including nationally syndicated TV shows such as The Talk and Better TV, and websites, such as Examiner.com and TheDailyMeal.com,” Johnson said.

In addition to social media support, the Pork Checkoff promoted the #ChopGriller contest through its blogger partners, who helped contribute to the final tally of nearly 6,000 entries and 22,000 finalists’ votes, along with more than 231,000 views of promotional grilling videos.

Griller Gives Back
The Top #ChopGriller contest boasted one of the biggest prize packages in recent National Pork Board history. Hoffman received $15,000 toward a backyard makeover, a summer’s worth of free pork and a Large Big Green Egg® grill and grilling prize package.

Hoffman plans to use his winnings to help support the Iowa-based Retrieving Freedom charity, which places service dogs with disabled veterans.

“My wife is a nurse with the Veterans’ Administration Hospital, and I’ve been blessed to see the crucial physical and emotional support these dogs provide veterans and their families,” said Hoffman, who noted that the service dogs come from animal shelters. “Retrieving Freedom is doing something special for America’s heroes, and this was a fitting way for me to help.”

As he builds an outdoor teaching kitchen at his family farm’s near Whitten, Iowa, Hoffman is continuing his pursuit of pork perfection.

“My advice to all barbecue enthusiasts is simple,” Hoffman said. “Cook what you like and the flavors you like, not what everyone else tells you to like, and from there, experiment often.”