Ge­or­gia’s Sec­ond Gen­er­a­tion

Chattanooga Times Free Press - Parade - - WHAT AMERICA EATS -

My­ron Mixon and his 26-year-old son, Michael, are a study in old- and new-school bar­be­cue. My­ron, the lead pit­mas­ter of Jack’s Old South Com­pe­ti­tion Bar-B-Que Team, speaks with a slow-as­mo­lasses ca­dence you’d ex­pect to hear in their tiny home­town of Unadilla, Ga. Michael talks in rapid-fire cir­cles, with a grin as wide as a barn door.

His dad is a bar­be­cue leg­end, but this isn’t a coat­tail ride for Michael. When he turned 19, he formed his own team and won the Ge­or­gia Bar­be­cue As­so­ci­a­tion cir­cuit. To­day he is one of the youngest pit­mas­ters to lead a cook team and puts a mil­len­nial spin on his work.

“We’re play­ing with stuff that I would never af­fil­i­ate with bar­be­cue,” says Michael. That means tast­ing more than 40 dif­fer­ent types of mango to de­velop a con­cen­trate for a mari­nade, in­cor­po­rat­ing Asian fla­vors like gin­ger or ap­ply­ing Latin in­flu­ences like ha­banero flakes. He plans to bring those fresh fla­vors to his brisket at the up­com­ing Kansas City Amer­i­can Royal World Se­ries of Bar­be­cue.

When My­ron re­tires, Michael will take over the em­pire, but for now he’s build­ing his own. He’s an ambassador for Cabo Wabo Tequila and has his own Food Net­work show, BBQ Rig Race, which fol­lows four teams as they drive cus­tom bar­be­cue smok­ers across Texas.

Tra­di­tion­ally, bar­be­cue res­tau­rants cook food the own­ers were raised on. That of­ten means brisket in Texas, whole hog in the Caroli­nas and pork in Mem­phis. But what if a pit­mas­ter is from a melt­ing pot like New York?

“In New York City, we don’t have rules. We’re not tied to the Texas Trin­ity of brisket, ribs and sausage, or cook­ing whole hog,” says Billy Dur­ney. A for­mer celebrity body­guard, he left the se­cu­rity field to pur­sue his pit­mas­ter dreams and open Home­town Bar-B-Que in Brook­lyn’s Red Hook in 2013.

“At Home­town, we’re a can­vas of the beau­ti­ful, mul­ti­cul­tural, eth­nic city that I grew up in,” says Dur­ney, 45. “I spent time with Vietnamese gro­cers, own­ers of Korean res­tau­rants and peo­ple from Oax­aca [Mex­ico] and the West Indies.” That trans­lates to spe­cial­ties like lamb belly Vietnamese banh mi sand­wiches, Ja­maican jerk baby back ribs, Korean sticky ribs and wood-fired Oax­a­can chicken.

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