WILLIAMSBURG — Spam is a dirty word in some foodie circles, but Mike Myers proudly displays the awards proclaiming him one of the nation’s finest culinary experts when it comes to the mystery meat.
Earlier this month, he traveled to Austin, Texas, to participate and ultimately win Spamarama, an Austin institution dating to 1978.
“I came with my guns loaded for that trophy,” Myers said from his restaurant kitchen, Myers Grill and Catering in Williamsburg.
Spamarama, which was held July 6 at Moontower Saloon, featured 27 teams, some with seven or eight members. The main requirement is that the entry dish be made of at least 51 percent Spam.
Myers, who has owned and operated his restaurant for 23 years and has been in food service for 53 years, competed in the professional category.
Facing Spam dishes paired with ramen noodles, peanut brittle, chili and more, Myers entered “Three Pigs” in the competition. The dish featured thin sliced pork tenderloin, Spam and pork belly garnished with grilled onions, barbecue-sriracha aioli and wasabi aioli.
He smoked the tenderloin and pork belly here before driving to Texas to ensure optimal results.
“Spam gets a bad rap, but it’s a really good product,” he said.
For his effort, Myers claimed the esteemed “Spamerica Cup,” which is awarded to the top combined score of the taste and showmanship categories. Myers finished first in both.
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“As the years progress, it’s gotten fancier and more elegant,” Myers said. “It’s tough to win.”
This was his third time participating in Spamarama and third time placing among the best. He won in 1989 with a “Spamwurst” dish, and placed second to his brother, John, in 2007, the last year before a 12 year hiatus when an organizer left the area, according to the Austin-American Statesman.
Before the hiatus, the event had been drawing thousands of people.
Myers’ connection to the competition was his brother, who was a multi-time Spam-cooking champion having participated more than 20 times in the event.
Brothers Mike and John had developed a rivalry, and after John died from a heart attack in March, Mike was determined to travel to Texas and win the crown. The Spamerica Cup had even been renamed to include John Myers, who won the cup more than anyone else.
“I wanted to keep John’s legacy going and bring the cup back to the family,” Mike Myers said.
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