‘Winningest Man in BBQ' Brings Pork and Policy Advice to DC

WASHINGTON Unlike most prideful Southern chefs, Myron Mixon doesn’t brag about his barbecue. He doesn’t need to.

Since 1996, the Georgia native has won more than 200 grand championships, collected more than 1,800 trophies and been crowned the grand champion at the World Championship in Memphis four times — all for the magic that ensues when he introduces pig to pit.

Earlier this year, Mixon brought his award-winning barbecue to the area with his Alexandria, Virginia, restaurant, Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ, which he opened with restaurateur and certified barbecue judge, Joe Corey.

“Hell, we couldn’t screw this up if we wanted to,” Mixon said about the food at his new Northern Virginia joint. “It’s for real.”

Mixon joined the barbecue circuit after cooking meat for more than two decades. His dad owned a takeout barbecue business, and Mixon started helping out around the shop by age 9.

“As I got older, whether I wanted to or not, I was learning things. I was learning about how to manage fires, check meat for doneness, tenderness,” Mixon said.

In the ’90s, he got the itch to compete, and in his first barbecue competition, he took home two firsts and a third for his entries in the whole hog, shoulder and rib categories.

“So I was pretty well hooked,” said Mixon, who eventually entered 40 to 45 competitions a year.

His success on the circuit landed him the title, “the winningest man in barbecue,” and Mixon went on to host television shows, write cookbooks and launch a line of smokers. Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ is the latest in the “Lord of Q’s” lineup.

Mixon decided to bring his barbecue to the D.C. area for a number of reasons. For starters, the region’s restaurant industry is thriving. Plus, he says, the barbecue field isn’t too crowded.

“It’s not like being down in the South where everybody’s got a grill in their backyard. You don’t have that necessarily up here,” Mixon said.

And finally, his friend and former barbecue judge owned several restaurants in the area. A business partnership seemed inevitable.

Barbecue champion Myron Mixon, left, sits with his assistant grill master, Nick Cochran, while showing off a recently won trophy at Mixon’s Vienna, Ga., barbecue restaurant, Wednesday, Sept 10, 2003. Mixon has won more than 800 trophies, including two grand prizes at the south Georgia town’s Big Pig Jig, one of the nation’s premier barbecue contests. The 22nd annual contest runs Oct. 23-25. (AP Photo/ Elliott Minor)

The menu at Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster BBQ has everything from ribs, to brisket, to burnt ends, to Mixon’s must: Brunswick stew.

“That’s a Southern thing, especially where I’m from down in Georgia,” he said.

There are Jack’s peach BBQ baked beans, named after his father, and collard greens cooked in bacon and butter. Everything from the sauces to the desserts is made from scratch, and when Mixon’s in town, he’ll often “do a whole hog” at the shop.

Mixon said his dad never did get to see him compete or tell him that his barbecue was better — but that probably wouldn’t have happened anyway.

“He never would have said that. Not Jack Mixon, he never would have said that,” Mixon said with a laugh.

While slow-cooking meat is his specialty, Mixon warns hosts that barbecue isn’t always the best thing to cook and serve at summer shindigs. He recommends something a little easier, such as chicken, burgers and hot dogs “Something where you can get ‘em done and you can enjoy the festivities too,” he said.

“Don’t jump out there and take on the big items. Don’t jump out there and take on a 20-pound brisket or a 10-pound Boston butt or something big, because you’re going to be over there cooking, and everybody’s going to be over there enjoying your pool and your beverages and having a great time.”

When Mixon isn’t working over a pit, he’s tackling his new role in politics. For the second year, Mixon is the mayor of Unadilla, Georgia, population 1,500. He admits balancing politics and pork has been “very interesting.”

“When I decided to run, our little town needed some help. It had gotten into a little bit of disarray,” Mixon said. “I’ve been very blessed and I’ve been very successful at what I do, and I felt like I needed to do something for my city to get it back on track. And that’s what we do now.”

Mixon says his foray into politics has offered him an inside look at how the government’s sausage is made, and it has given him a few ideas as to how politicians in Washington can get along a little better. Let’s just say his solution involves loading up a bus and driving everyone down to his new restaurant.

“We can set out some brisket and ribs, hash out all our problems, work it all out, hold hands and sing Kumbaya,” he said.

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