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3 Eyz BBQ and Munchin' Hogs Down to the Wire

December 11, 2012

The iconic barbecue smoke. The stress leading up to turn-in time. The thrill of hearing your team's name called to the stage… competition, after competition. This is the just the start of the journey to becoming the KCBS Team of the Year. And for 3 Eyz BBQ and Munchin' Hogs @ The Hilton, it has been one heck of a year.

As the 2011 and 2008 KCBS Team of the Year, in addition to multiple top ten finishes over their 10 years in competitive barbecue, Munchin' Hogs @ The Hilton is quite familiar with the what it takes to navigate through tricky highways and tough judges. In 2012, the team competed in 36 competitions across the United States, and with 52 weeks in the year, well… you get the point. This team is dedicated to the Q. But don't let the team's ending success fool you as this competition season didn't start out on the winner's track, and that, perhaps, is what makes their current 2012 second place Team of the Year standing so notable.

"You know, we came out of the 2011 season just kind of burnt out," said Robert Magee, lead pitmaster for Munchin' Hogs @ The Hilton. "So at the start of 2012, we just wanted to have fun." From the beginning of the 2012 season, until around June, fun was exactly what the team had. Instead of working to really understand the judges and flavor profiles that exist amongst the different competitive regions, the team threw random recipes at the judges to see what would pass and what didn't do so well. The team was enjoying competition barbecue while leaving the stress of maintaining "the best" standard behind. This "fun" phase lasted until the Sam's Club National BBQ Tour regional event in Illinois where the team was disqualified for having a late Brisket turn-in.

"I felt bad for letting my team down," said Magee. And from that point forward, the team wasted no time in making up for lost points and carefully mapped out a plan of attack to weave their way back to the top. Be it known, it took until July to even break the top 25 teams.

One of the most exciting competitions for both Munchin' Hogs and 3 Eyz was in Calhoun, Ga., where the two teams were neck and neck, both vying for the Team of the Year position. Regardless of how the day turned out, both teams continue to offer nothing but the highest praise for one another, a winner's quality surely unique to the KCBS family across the board.

Dan Hixon and his 3 Eyz BBQ team have made great strides in perfecting their competitive barbecue over the past few years, jumping from 46th place in 2011, straight to the top in 2012.

"We had the dream of being Team of the Year… but it was not a goal of ours," said Hixon. "It just seemed like it was meant to be this year."

3 Eyz BBQ got their start back in 2006 after competing in a local, ribs-only tailgate competition in Maryland. While the team was soundly defeated there, they were intrigued by the "big boys" competing in the KCBS sanctioned competition happening across the street.  The team made sure to be a part of that competition the following year, in place of the tailgate competition. It's safe to say they quickly became hooked.

As their experience has developed, 3 Eyz BBQ attributes their success to "keeping things simple." Hixon noted that the team's secret ingredient is their homemade rub used on all four meat turn-ins. Through nearly 30 competitions in the 2012 season and racking up 11 Grand Champion wins and six Reserve Grand Champion wins, it certainly seems that "simple" is indeed their secret weapon.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done," said Hixon, who, like many other KCBS members, maintains a full-time job on top of his barbecue hobby. But hard work pays off, and Hixon could not be more proud of his team.

"We've already exceeded every expectation I had," exclaimed Hixon, unable to contain the pride in his voice… and he certainly deserves to hold on to that pride!

Congratulations to 3 Eyz BBQ and Munchin' Hogs @ The Hilton for their Team of the Year accomplishments thus far. As of publishing date, there are still a few Team of the Year point competitions to occur. We look forward to recognizing the final results in proper KCBS fashion at the banquet!  

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