Manning native to appear on Cooking Channel show tonight
by The Associated Press | June 20, 2017 6:30 am
Manning native Howard Conyers is an aerospace engineer with NASA.
He has a Ph.D., has served as a lecturer in his field and now lives in New Orleans.
But this week, he will be showing off his culinary skills when he appears 9 p.m. today on the Cooking Channel’s “Man Fire Food.”
Conyers specialty when wearing an apron is whole-hog barbecue. The pitmaster couldn’t share too many details about his appearance on the show before it airs, but said it includes his passion for Carolina whole-hog barbecue, along with its history.
“I’ve been involved with whole hog barbecuing since I was four years old, watching my father,” Conyers told NASA, adding that he cooked his first whole hog at 11 years old, continuing to perfect his skills until he headed to college in North Carolina.
Conyers earned his undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T State University and a doctorate in mechanical engineering and materials science from Duke University. He later accepted a position at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and settled down in nearby New Orleans in 2009. He wanted to help the community still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
“I saw it as a way to help rebuild and give back to the community,” Conyers told NASA. “I made the decision to accept the job at Stennis partially because of that opportunity.”
But on trips back to South Carolina, Conyers said he realized that whole-hog barbecue was dying.
“Ultimately, I realized it was my responsibility to carry it on,” he said.
So Conyers started cooking competitively, gaining recognition for his traditional barbecue and his story as a rocket-scientist-turned-pitmaster.
Now he’s a historian and lecturer on the South Carolina whole-hog tradition. He’s even working on a book about it.
That recognition earned him a spot on “Man Fire Food,” where he’ll show off his traditional skills, backed up by his engineering experience – like using a converted refrigerator to cook, or a burn barrel to make his own coals.
“What I do is really an art form and skill,” Conyers said. “It’s a true tradition, and I want to maintain that tradition. At the same time, I want to seek ways to improve the technical process itself.”
For more information on Conyers, go to go.nasa.gov/2sQ0PBT.