Bryan Krantz poses with BBQ Legend Myron Mixon in Unadilla, Georgia

Refining Those Barbecue Skills

Our nonprofit Tailgate Tigers’ competition efforts had us feeling like we were on the right path leading up to this year’s Hogs For The Cause event in New Orleans. Every year we take a hard look at the results of our turn-in from both a self-assessment and judges’ assessment point of view. 2023 was the first time in several years the judges’ assessment didn’t reconcile with our team’s point of view. So we went to school on it, literally.

I have watched Food Network shows like Iron Chef, Top Chef, and BBQ Pit Masters, and usually after a season or two, I’ll drift away to other food-related offerings. With our Hogs competition involvement, I still keep an interest in the BBQ Pit Masters series. To my mild surprise, a solicitation showed up in my social media feed for Myron Mixon’s Barbecue classes sometime before the holidays last fall.

My first reaction after reading through the website was, “Where the hell is Unadilla, GA?” My next thought was, “I wonder how far a drive Unadilla is from New Orleans?”

Myron Mixon is the loud and proud self-proclaimed “Winningest Man in Barbecue.” His bio describes him as follows… a four-time world barbecue champion. The chief cook of the Jack’s Old South Competition Bar-B-Que Team, the Mayor of Unadilla, GA, and Chef/Partner in Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ in Old Town, Alexander, VA.

On TV, Myron is the Executive Producer and host of “BBQ Rules,” the host of “Smoked,” and a star of two other hit shows, “BBQ Pitmasters” and “BBQ Pit Wars” on Discovery’s Destination America.

Two of us made the seven hour drive to the barbecue mecca in Unadilla, and the weekend of serious classes filled half a notebook of notes. The 55 attendees of the class came from across the country and from all walks of life. A few were competitors like us, some were Barbecue business owners or staff, and others were corporate team building groups. The Myron Mixon BBQ School can be found here.   

We cooked over 800 LBS of various meat on Myron Mixon Smokers, seasoned with Myron Mixon Rubs, and sauced with Myron Mixon Sauces. In the near decade of Barbecue craft we have accumulated, I have found a lot of new ground. While Myron is brash and bombastic, he is also a generous teacher and happily passed on his craft to our group. His class is not an intro to barbecue. He covers a tremendous amount of ground, but it is all very organized, and he is warmly interactive. If you don’t get something and Myron is involved with someone else, there is always his son Michael or one of the other staff to help you.

As you progress through the class, you begin to understand how he builds flavors. He also cooks most products at a hotter temperature with faster cooking times (The exception being the whole hog, which cooks at a lower temperature than most other self-help videos and guides call for).  

His Georgia roots call for a vinegar based sauce, but for each product, the different levels of injections and sauces are much sweeter than any Carolina-style vinegar style of sauce. His rubs are built the same way, with his rub process consisting of two layers: savory and sweet. This is pretty typical for the competition guys & girls.

Whole hog and butt preparation were pretty standard stuff. Trim, inject, rub, and cook. Of course the flavors he is adding in the injection and rub are uniquely his own.

His approach to pork spare ribs begins like everyone else, but once you have trimmed, injected, and rubbed, his process leaves the standard trail most other competition ribs follow.

The equipment is well-made and designed with a sense of utility and durability.  He has offset, water cook, pellet, and vertical feed systems and the pricing online seems to be competitive with other equipment, some of which is frankly not as well-made.

The knowledge Robby Ruel and I gained in this weekend at the school was a revelation, and we hope to use it as a paradigm in our efforts to be competitive at Hogs in the future. Each year this local competition is harder with more competitive talent from across the country participating. Perhaps we can make a new breakthrough.

One thing I know for certain: Elvis ain’t dead. He’s in Unadilla, GA teaching Barbecue classes, and we done been to Graceland.