He’s the one they call Dr. Good Food

Published 11:05 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Students and faculty of the University of West Alabama know him as Dr. Haywood Mayton, associate dean in the department of teacher education.

His friends, neighbors and players on the professional barbeque circuit know him simply as Doc.

In the past 12 months Mayton has turned his love for barbeque into a full-fledged, all consuming hobby.

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“I always admired people who could cook good barbeque,” he said. “I was a pretty good cook otherwise, but I had never been able to do good barbeque.”

After a few trial runs, and a few inedible experiments, Mayton got the hang of it and his competition team, Doc’s Ribs, was born.

“I love to barbeque and share it with my friends and neighbors,” he said. “It got to where the neighborhood kids would say ‘I love Doc’s ribs.’ The neighborhood kids named my team.”

One competition lead to another and Doc’s Ribs became a traveling show of family and friends around the Alabama Barbeque Trail.

Next month Mayton and his team will travel to Birmingham to compete in Stokin’ the Fire at Sloss Furnace. The annual event is one of the largest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) in the state.

“We’ve never done that one before, so we’re looking forward to it,” he said.

A typical KCBS event will feature categories in three types of meat: Pork (ribs and butt or shoulder), beef (brisket) and chicken. Points are awarded for presentation, taste and tenderness in each category and a winner is named. Points are combined at the end of the event where a Grand Champion is named.

So far, Mayton has yet to make his way to the winner’s circle but he’s come awfully close on several occasions, placing second in ribs and third in brisket at a recent competition in Livingston. He finished fourth in pork recently in Columbus, Miss. and scored a pair of seventh places in June at Haleyville.

“We usually finish in the top 10 to 12 percent of the teams at the competition,” Mayton said. A typically KCBS professional competition may have anywhere from 30 to 70 teams at a single event.

“I enjoy cooking with the big boys,” he added, noting most of the competitive barbeque teams compete year round. Many others are supported by barbeque restaurants and catering businesses. “I always look at my overall score and see where I finished in comparison to the big boys.”

So, what’s his secret to competition quality barbeque? Well, it’s not really a secret at all.

“Cook it low and slow,” he said. “And have a good time doing it.”