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Culinary Students Kasey Oxendine and Harvey Strickland declared winners of 3rd Annual Battle of the Butts

The Battle of the Butts has become an annual tradition at Robeson Community College. The competition turned drive-thru fundraiser raises money for Communities in Schools by allowing culinary arts students the opportunity to compete for who can create the best rub and sauce and then use that recipe to prepare barbeque plates that will be served to hundreds in the community.

Kasey Oxendine and Harvey Strickland were declared winners of the 3rd Annual Battle of the Butts competition. Kasey’s sauce will be mixed into the barbeque, and Harvey’s rub will be used in preparing the pork for the smokers.

“They both did really good for being first-year students,” said Ingram. “I can’t wait to see what else they do when they finish the program. I hope they decide to go big and do great things in the Chef World.”

Kasey’s sauce is a Carolina and Ketchup-based sauce that’s sweet and savory.

Kasey Oxendine, left, works with a fellow classmate in preparing the sauce that will be used in the Community in Schools fundraiser BBQ plate sale.

“I thought about all the different barbeque, sauces I had growing up and I knew I wanted to do apple cider vinegar of course because I’m in North Carolina, and everyone around here loves vinegar in their barbeque,” said Kasey.

“What was your real inspiration?” asked Chef Ingram during a Facebook Live promotion of the event. 

“My real inspiration was to win,” Kasey said, as she laughed.

“That’s what I wanted to hear,” Ingram said. “Her sauce is really good and complex, yet simple. It has a nuance of flavors, it’s a classic Carolina flavor… once you try it, you want to keep eating it.”

Harvey’s rub is smokey, and sweet and has what Chef Ingram calls a “backend heat.”

Harvey Strickland, right, works with last year’s Battle of the Butts contest winner Hannah Hopkins on preparing the pork to be smoked for the upcoming plate sale that will raise more than $10,000 for Communities in Schools.

“My inspiration was more or less the way that my family has made barbeque my whole life… I have cooked it for my family for many years and this is how I season it,” Harvey said. “We were told to be as creative as we wanted to be, but needed to keep in mind our community, so I had that in mind as well.”

“I equate it to Flaming Hot Cheetos, you eat one and you keep eating more,” Ingram said.

“Harvey’s rub plays well with pork, but it would also be a good rub for chicken or even fish.”

According to Ingram, the fundraiser should raise between $10,000 – $12,000, and thanks to the generosity of Smithfield’s, who donated all the pork for the fundraiser, more money will be netted.

“All proceeds go to Communities in Schools,” stated RCC’s Chef James Ingram. “The money will be used to help keep kids in school and help them to graduate. It’s the biggest reason we continue the competition.”

Ingram says he loves to help his community and says that “we need kids to stay in school, to graduate, and go on to do great things with their life and in the workforce. If this competition helps with that, then it’s worth the 4 days of work that goes into preparing the barbeque and staying late to make sure everything gets done.”

By Wednesday night, students and the chef instructors will have prepared and boxed 800 plates to be distributed Thursday during the drive-thru pick-up. Tickets were pre-sold, allowing students to know exactly how many to prepare and also streamlining the ordering and pick-up process.

“The first barbecue plate sale was insane,” stated Ingram. “People were lined down the highway to get plates, but last year went super smooth, and having two separate lines helped push people through a lot faster.”

Also included on the plate will be baked beans, coleslaw, and for dessert – a chocolate chip cookie prepared by baking and pastry art students.


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