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Twitter Feed: Local BBQ start-up spices his butts with social media

You can almost smell the HTML: A screen cap of Plaid Pig BBQ's StokerApp.

The Auburn University Office of Sustainability is encouraging Tiger tailgaters to plan their menus with locally produced food (as long as it isn’t red meat), haul it to their site on bikes and cook it with solar grills.

But when it comes to game day gastronomy, nothing says 2009 quite like what Plaid Pig BBQ’s Mike Raburn is doing all night long on home game weekends on the corner of Moore’s Mill and Hamilton roads.

Mike Raburn tweets his meat.

“I’m an Internet guy,” said Raburn as he checked the temperature inside his grill, beer in one hand, MacBook in the other.

In addition to his barbecuing, Raburn is the driving force behind Stangnet.com, a 1.5-million-page-view-a-month Web site for Ford Mustang enthusiasts. He has lived in Auburn for 10 years.

“I’ve got three or four Web sites that I do … and I’m just doing [Plaid Pig] for kind of a hobby,” he said. “Another hobby gone wild.”

And increasingly geeky.

It's the digitally controlled wood that makes it good: Mike Raburn hard at work before the La. Tech game.

When he expressed the need for a computer application to help monitor and control the stoker that regulates the heat inside his custom built grill, even his partner, Donnie La Curan, a local Web site developer who spends his days in Internet code, was confused. But intrigued.

“I mean it’s a barbecue, just add fire,” La Curan said of his initial reaction. “But after understanding exactly what it would do, I realized how it could help him.”

Plaid Pig — currently just Raburn, whatever friends stop by and his grill set up across from Christine’s Gourmet Steak and Wine, where he sells the meat — claims to be the only “low and slow” pulled pork artisans in Auburn.

“When he cooks a Boston butt it can take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours,” La Curan said.

plaidpig3La Curan’s creation, StokerApp, allows Raburn to simply set a temperature and walk away.

“My application is an interface for the stoker,” he said. “The stoker is the piece of hardware that does the work and knows when to blow air in. You can use just the stoker and adjust settings on the LED panel, but what fun is that when you can control it from your computer?”

And check that the “grate right” is at 223 degrees … 229.9 degrees … 239.6 degrees … from your Twitter account.

“[The grill] announces updates [via Twitter] every eight minutes,” Raburn said. “The idea is for people to eventually come into my Web site, pre-order your butts that I’m going to cook on Friday, put your credit card info in, and then they can track it on Twitter and I’ll send them a message saying, ‘Your butts done, you can come pick it up.'”

He laughed.

“I mean, you have to be a cook and a geek to do this.”

About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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