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Hogstravaganza! Party platter features a whole hog, sparklers, horns and music

Updated March 6, 2023 - 5:01 pm

At Project BBQ, hogs gone wild.

The food truck permanently housed in the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas celebrates supersize barbecue with Hogstravaganza, a spit-roasted head-on whole suckling pig stuck with sparklers (à la bottle service), then served on a platter surrounded by a bevy of attendants: roasted potatoes, corn, pineapples and more.

Party horns and music blare, announcing folks are gettin’ piggy wit it. The only thing missing? Litter bearers, stripped to the waist and oiled, to hold the hog high as they deliver it to the table in the Project BBQ yard.

“It’s loud and fun and exciting and obnoxious all at the same time,” said Rob Baker, a partner in Project BBQ, laughing. “Everybody loves that wow factor. It’s a great photo-op along with great taste.”

The big pig starts at about $750, depending on the size and any added sides (loaded housemade chips, street tacos, empanadas and so on). The pigs, sourced from a farm in Ohio, range from 30 to 60 pounds. A smaller animal feeds about 10 to 15, a large one about 20 to 25.

Rex Bernales, the Project BBQ chef and partner, massages the outside of the pig with a mixture of soy sauce and the red dye used for Chinese barbecue. He fills the cavity with onions, garlic, shallots, cilantro and seasoning, then spit-roasts the pig for about 3½ hours.

“I try to get as close to a lechon color as I can,” Bernales said, referring to the Filipino term for roast suckling pig, with its ideal skin texture and color: crisp, caramelized, a sheen of burnt orange, sheltering juicy savory flesh.

After being captured by smartphones, Hogstravaganza is carved by a chef assigned to whole hog duty. The pig must be ordered at least a week and a half in advance. Porcine pleasure inquiries: circalasvegas.com/drink-dine/project-bbq.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ItsJLW on Twitter.

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