While I will do my best to keep this a short story and give you the facts there is a lot involved in this story and you will read.
First of all – I am from the Northeast and to be more specific Connecticut if you haven’t learned that from my other posts and while growing up when we talked about having a BBQ that consisted of having Hot Dogs and Hamburgers on a grill to me that was living well. Ribs and Chicken were normally grilled too but smoking meat was not something we did or at least I didn’t remember. Rubs for sure where not something I can recall the most marinate I could think of is Italian Dressing that my mom would put on Steak Cubes for kabobs.
Now to be completely fair to my mom and my up bringing we are Italian and for the most part we didn’t really grill out. My mom was the cook and we had a lot of cold weather so grilling only happened for a few months out of the summer, which we only had a little hibachi grill so it was not really large enough to do more than a steak or some burgers.
Once I started cooking I really got into grilling so I invested in several grills along the way and fell in love with my TEC infrared grill but after several moves and getting dropped down a set of stairs in a move from Redmond Washington back to Florida.
So – in the mid nineties I moved to Charlotte, NC and I was in early 20’s I was on my first adventure on my own. Meeting a whole bunch of people at a growing and younger company, I was having so much fun learning and working I got invited to my first PIG PICKEN. I said I have no idea but what the heck let’s give it a try…. I would say I had BBQ before in a BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Ribs at restaurants but never saw a whole hog in the ground being slow cooked. I was fascinated!!!
So my love affair started with true southern BBQ. Yes – maybe I’m a DAMN Yankee for coming to the south and ever leaving! Charlotte, NC, Dallas, TX, several spots in Florida which is the south and I will have another post on that someday.
Charlotte was a great place to learn as I will tell you they take it very serious there – Charlotte being right on the border of South Carolina also give me the ability to try the mustard based delicacies as well. Then spending time in Texas I had the opportunity to start another love of brisket and beef! There are so many things to try from sausage, pork, beef, ribs, butts, and briskets… I could go on! Whenever I travel, I always try to find the best places in town to give a try…
I will say that all my experimenting and everything else really didn’t pan out as well as once I started to watch BBQ Pitmasters on TLC… I’m sure many of us didn’t know as much as we do since the introduction of that show or at least I’m willing to admit it!! I have had an electric smoker and then purchased a Big Green Egg when I started trying to get more serious. I wanted to learn a little more about controlling a fire and getting the amount of smoke into my meat that I wanted which with an electric smoker is much easier and since I will never compete I will tell you that a really good electric smoker could be in my future. I really like the Jack’s Old South line and I would invest and was most likely going to do it until I really just thought about the costs and space commitment that it will require for me. I don’t have enough space or need for the size that is but who knows…. with me I could end up getting one someday. My main problem with the egg is cook space… I have the large and even considered getting an extra large as well but the problem really is just the cook space… I know there are several ways to extend and so forth… this is not a story about the egg.
I became a KCBS Certified BBQ judge and have traveled all over the country including Mesquite, NV for Grilling in Mesquite, which was a highlight for me. I was hopping my mug would get on TV but not sure I ever saw it. Having the ability to meet Myron, Johnny, Tuffy and many others on the show and some that aren’t including Ray Lampe / DR. BBQ is always a treat and I will tell you that they are not what they seem on TV at all. Some are nicer and some aren’t at all! Myron is nothing like his TV persona or at least not as you would think from an approachability perspective – he is very approachable, takes pictures with everyone, and talks to anyone and laughs and jokes. Sure he wants to win and his cocky about it but heck when you have won as much as him and you continue to… WHY NOT BE!
I was a fan of Myron Mixon because as a Miami Hurricane I love Swagger, but I also loved Johnny Trigg since Ribs are my favorite and he really is the rib master. My wife doesn’t like the show as much as I do and she was never really a fan of rubs but since watching the show I have found a great balance of what she wanted and what I could create so …. she likes my Johnny Trigg type ribs. Now, I haven’t said this along the way… my wife is really really … really!!! Understanding of my hobbies and the fact that some are very expensive and time consuming like my Ham Radios, Cameras and Grills… with that said she is amazingly supportive of me and really as much as she makes fun of me likes to see me happy!
She couldn’t figure out what to get me for our anniversary and ended up purchasing me a seat at Jack’s Old South Cook School in Unadilla Georgia, which I’m sure you have never heard of outside of Myron’s House. I never heard of it so when I did some quick mapping it’s really close to Perry, GA which has some decent hotels and places to eat… with that said you won’t be eating much outside of his class as meals are provided.
DISCLAIMER – if you are expecting me to provide you any of his recipes or tricks you could forget it! There are two reasons I won’t – the first is he asks you not to take any video, tape audio or put them on the Internet. Second is – no matter what! Integrity is a core value of this and mine is something that this man does for a living, provide an opportunity to learn,, and charges very fair price once you hear everything you get. Also, it’s just not classy and if I saw someone posting these things I would tell him so he could have them removed. I wouldn’t want someone stealing my work and I don’t think it’s fair to share his without permission. Ok I’m off my soapbox.
It was a 5 or so hour drive for me from Florida so I packed up and got in the car – and started my drive. I will say that if you have never been through North Florida and Southern Georgia there is some pretty country through there.
I stayed in Perry, GA where you could find several reasonable priced hotels, which were clean and safe. I stayed in a Ramada Inn for somewhere around $64 with free breakfast and Internet.
So Myron you do receive several communications from the cook school the night before (and week) and they ask you very clearly not to show up early Friday night as they are trying to get setup with all the tents, cooking and check-in. Honestly, there were a lot of people in the driveway waiting and if I knew now that there would be the rush that there was as well as the wait to check in I will tell you this… wait 15-20 mines. You will get checked in just fine and there is NO LACK of Food or anything if you’re a little later. TRUST ME! ☺
I’ll go into each day a little more detail but here is the layout of the weekend:
The Venue – Myron’s house. He has several (12) tables setup for standing and prep work where you work with a team on each category (Chicken, Shoulder, Ham, Brisket, Spare, and Baby Back Ribs. He also has a venue with one long table down the middle and about 8 on each side pointing at his perch, which has a mirror on top of the table for all to see. Many flock for the front but I will also say that Myron at all times stops and let’s you come up and look, will ask for questions and answers any and all in his way (Yes, if you don’t like adult language remember it is Myron ☺). There are a men and women’s bathroom and tons of parking. They also had several versions of his (Tom the maker was there as well) Water Cookers for sale which if I had more space for I would have gotten one we are just in a small backyard spot right now. Overall, the location gets an A+. One small thing I will point out – trains fascinate me and he had a rail line that goes through Unadilla in his back yard. It’s a working track for sure as there are several LONG trains that go by over the weekend. The only reason I mention that is because of my affection for the sound and the view… it means nothing to the class but I liked it ☺
Friday – Low Country Boil with all the fixins. Kegs setup with beer, soda, and some great sweet tea. I ate so much – Hushpuppies were my fav☺ I don’t eat Catfish but the Fried Chicken was amazing. Myron and all his staff are setup to answer any questions as well as all the equipment you see on TV is setup to walk around on and take pictures on/in. You also get to talk to a bunch of people that range from serious competition to backyard as well as people like me that just love BBQ and want to learn. There isn’t much learning the first night more of just getting ready for what you’re going to learn and a great party.
Saturday – Early start 7am. Coffee, Sweat Tea, Sodas as breakfast Danish, and other stuff. Trust me eating isn’t a problem – like I said I had free breakfast at my hotel so I did have a bite there but still had some great stuff while at JOS.
Saturday morning is all about Whole Hog. How to prep the hog in detail starting with prepping the ribs, cleaning up fat, how to cut, what to look for in a hog. Then you go through all the injecting making which is the one that Myron uses in competition… How to inject, where to inject and why… how to rub and how much to use and why. How to wrap – why to use props to keep the hog in certain positions and so forth. Timing of when to put on and what temperatures to expect in different areas of the hog.
Saturday lunch was hotdogs and hamburgers with all the sides you could ask for – I will tell you that his twice baked potato salad that is in his book was so good that I am going to have to make it at home.
Saturday afternoon you start with brisket, shoulder and butt training and then break out into teams, which allow you hands on training and experimenting. You have several people from JOS walking around helping with any questions or comments. While getting ready for brisket prep if you know about Myron’s brisket at all and the fact that it is most likely his strongest category outside of whole hog – Myron’s Wagu Brisket is really great. High marbling content and very expensive. He mentioned that he spent over $5000 just on briskets for the class.
Ribs, Chicken and everything else is the exact same way… once you learn all his glazes, marinades and timeframes when, how and why they take your food and cook it all! They have all their competition smokers going and his old staff of “black shirts” is doing everything – cooking, wrapping, panning and then resting. Saturday night has another huge meal of Pork Chops and other food as well as all the fixins – Stuffed again with the great food! So much to eat … and it was all great!!!
One thing – Saturday night there is plenty of time to get orders in for any of JOS’s products that Myron is using throughout the weekend. I was surprised on how there was NO hard sell on any products. He mentioned what he was using and it was available. Tom passed out order forms and of course they preferred cash but as Tom said we would find a way to take your money and that was true to course. Honestly – I bought a few things that I really needed. Rib Racks are invaluable, I love the MEAT RUB and I thought the Rib Rub was a little too sweet for my taste but most love it.
Well – Sunday morning has now come around and after breakfast we are finishing up. Whole Hog comes off, and you are invited up with a small basket, and they start pulling for you. Class all comes up and although it’s a little unorganized how could you keep us all in line ☺. They always… I mean always ask did everyone get a first change on everything before seconds. You have a few people in everything in life that just keep cutting in line but overall most people were very cool. I had thirds ☺ Bacon off a whole hog if you have ever had it is like cotton candy and well worth it!
Myron then went though this process of building a whole hog box for turn ins as well as how he setups his area for onsite judging. He didn’t hold anything back and as he was talking through all of the process he answered questions on any topic but specifically on box building. I told tons of pictures again but I will not post just out of respect for his class.
After the whole hog and the other meats were being prepared for serving there was open time to walk around and get your orders from the night before as well as about an hour of just open Q&A about anything. Timelines, temperature, processes, trial and error, back yard and home cooking questions, and whatever other topic you want.
Then the meats start getting passed out from what you cooked Saturday and it keeps coming and coming… WAY TOO MUCH FOOD if that is at all possible ☺
Chicken, Ribs both Spares and Baby’s, Brisket, Shoulder, Butts and you just keep eating while Myron is answering questions and talking openly.
Now during the whole class and breaks and whatever open time there is Myron will take any pictures and sign any books or whatever else you want. Completely approachable and willing to take all the time in the world for interactions – not at all what you would expect from the TV persona… with that said make sure your ears can take it because he does use Adult Language ☺ So – if your someone that gets offended easily you are forewarned.
Myron also pulled out his notebook of his dad recipes and shared them with the class. Taking notes is critical – they provide you a notebook and pen and make sure to write down everything. I had met a husband and wife from Tampa and we sat together and shared notes the whole time to make sure we all got it. We had a blast.
There is sooo much extra food that they bag up all the categories and put them on a table for you to take home with you. I took a bunch as people were flying or other stuff and there was so much extra. Since I was driving I could get it home and we would not let it go to waste.
I’m sure I’m missing a ton of things and please ask any questions you might have and I’m happy to help. My final conclusion on the class is this:
WELL WORTH THE MONEY! So that’s my take on the JOS Cooking School I hope you enjoyed it.
• How many times in life do you learn from the best of the best in something
• FOOD – I mean everything from Friday night to leaving on Sunday was great! That alone is worth the price of the class.
• Getting to see it done and ask questions from a true master
• Socialization – so many BBQ people to talk to and meet. I met two people from Tampa and have kept in touch.
• Brisket – I will say that this is the one thing I learned so much about that I will ensure never to get it wrong again
• Ribs – Although I thought his were sweet I made them myself with a few tweaks and my family said the best ever.
• Memories … need I say more?
• BUGS! – There are NATs every night and they are the worse. Bring Bug Spray for sure that is the biggest con of the whole event.
• Location – Not the easiest place in the world to get to and find a good hotel but not a huge deal either. I liked the hotels in Perry.