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Friday, May 24, 2024

Optimus Swine is a Master at Barbeque Competitions

Team Optimus Swine, pictured with Myron Mixon, after winning Grand Championship of the Seventh Annual Hog Drop BBQ Competition. (photo: Jon Wade)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — The smell of barbecue smoking on a grill means hanging out with friends, preparing the best bite and trophies for Optimus Swine.

Jason and Jon Wade, brothers, pitmasters and owners of Two Drummers Smokehouse in Toano, help make up the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) Master series team Optimus Swine, along with Jon’s 12-year-old son, Alex.

Sanctioning and judging over 300 contests a year, KCBS is considered one of the most prestigious organizations of barbecue and grilling competitions.

The Wade family got their start on the competition circuit in 2019 and ended the 2023 season by earning a respectable ninth place for KCBS Master Series Team of the Year.

The Wade brothers at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational BBQ. (photo: Jon Wade)
This year, competition season started off with a bang when Optimus Swine received a Grand Champion call at barbecue legend Myron Mixon’s annual Hog Drop in Unadilla, Georgia.

“Competition barbecue is such a different barbecue and style of cooking,” stated Jon Wade. “First of all, it is a one-bite challenge. You are not getting a full dish.”

There are a set of rules that must be followed for a KCBS Master series contest.

Each team must cook four types of meat — chicken, pork ribs, pork butt and brisket — and the cooking source must be wood, wood pellets or charcoal.

Every entry is given a white Styrofoam box with a number. That random number is the team’s identity for that competition.

Ribs ready to turn in to the judges. (Photo: Jon Wade)

There is a time limit to prepare, cook and turn in entries to the judges.

“Competition barbecue runs on a clock. If you are even one second late turning in your entry, you are disqualified.” Wade explained, “Timing dictates the taste and the bite.”

A panel of trained judges then rate the product on appearance, taste, and tenderness.
Wade says each team has its own process, cook style, cut of meat and seasonings.
“It’s cool because we have all taken each other’s classes, and seen each other’s cooking videos, but we still all cook differently,” said Wade.
According to Wade, while each team hopes to win a title, the atmosphere at a competition is one of community, “We have a Friday night potluck, everybody brings a dish and we hang out. We may compete, but we also see people we respect and when they win we are proud of them.”
To catch Optimus Prime in action locally, the team will be competing at the Brill Music and BBQ Fest at Jamestown Park. There will be opportunities to meet the pitmasters, purchase pit passes and soak up the atmosphere.

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