The heat will be on when a group of Pirongia mates battle it out in a 'barbecue war' this weekend.

The Pirongia Porkers BBQ Team are hoping to roast the competition at Meatstock, a two-day festival in Auckland.

The event is dubbed "the carnival for carnivores" and brings together barbecuers, chefs, demonstrations, workshops, live music, food trucks and craft beer.

Pirongia Porkers from left Bex Shirley, Kurt Shirley and Nathan Olliver-Thompson are gearing up to roast the competition at Meatstock. Photo / Bethany Rolston
Pirongia Porkers from left Bex Shirley, Kurt Shirley and Nathan Olliver-Thompson are gearing up to roast the competition at Meatstock. Photo / Bethany Rolston

The Pirongia Porkers are one of 50 teams determined to be crowned the top barbecuers and bring home the bacon — $8000 of cash and prizes.

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Kurt and Bex Shirley, their mate Nathan Olliver-Thompson and Bex's dad Bob Turrell make up the team of meat-lovers.

For the last year the group has met regularly to simulate competition conditions and cook for their family and friends.

Teams present 'hand-in boxes' filled with portions of meat to be judged. Photo / Supplied
Teams present 'hand-in boxes' filled with portions of meat to be judged. Photo / Supplied

At Meatstock teams of up to four work around the clock preparing and cooking cuts such as beef brisket, lamb, pulled pork, pork ribs and chicken.

There's lots of banter, non-stop cooking and painstaking monitoring of meat — and not much sleep.

Pirongia Porkers are using three charcoal barbecues at the event — an Octopit XL, a Charmate Stack drum smoker and a kettle.

Team member Bex Shirley prepares a 'hand-in box' at a previous competition. Photo / Supplied
Team member Bex Shirley prepares a 'hand-in box' at a previous competition. Photo / Supplied

Throughout the two days the group must present 'hand-in boxes' filled with portions of meat to be judged.

Kurt's earliest memory barbecuing was helping his dad cook on a gas barbecue at the family bach as a child.

He was inspired to start barbecuing competitively after attending Meatstock in 2017.

Kurt and Bex fell in love with charcoal and wood-fired barbecues.

Since then they've competed in various barbecue competitions around New Zealand. Kurt says the competition is "all about low and slow".

"We cook on a low heat for a long amount of time," he says.

"Nothing compares to the incredible flavour that produces."

Kurt says competitive charcoal and wood-based barbecuing is growing in New Zealand.

"Competitions like Meatstock allow your average backyard battler to have a go and test themselves in a competition situation. We come from all walks of life."

Nathan is the butchery manager at New World in Ngāruawāhia and previously worked as a butcher at Te Awamutu Pak'nSave.

He says the perfect barbecue is about taste, texture and presentation — in that order.

"Your combination of heat, wood, smoke, cut of meat, rubs and sauces is key," he says.

"You have to be blown away by the first bite."

It's different from cooking at home.

"When you're cooking at home you can say, 'Dinner's going to be another half hour'. But in a competition, you've only got five minutes either side of the hand-in time."

They thanked main sponsor Te Awamutu butchery Expleo, which provides much of the group's high-quality meat.

Meatstock is at the ASB showgrounds on February 16 and 17.

Tickets from www.meatstock.co.nz