This past Labor Day I was able to attend the Nuggest Rib Cook-off in Sparks, Nevada. This is the closest professional rib cook-off near me that had 24 rib competitors. What I like about this competition is that they highlight some of the local bay area BBQ shops such as Kinders, Back Forty Texas Barbeque, and Armadillo Willy’s.
This was my first year to attend the event and wasn’t sure what to expect so I needed a plan of attack. I picked up the paper about the event and saw the list of competitors:
- Armadillo Willy’s
- Aussom Aussie
- Back Forty Texas Barbecue
- BJ’s Barbeque
- Bone Daddy’s BBQ
- Bourbon Q
- Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ
- Carson City BBQ
- Checkered Pig BBQ
- Chicago BBQ Company
- Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Co.
- Famous Dave’s BBQ
- Joey’s Texas Thunder
- Johnson’s Bar-B-Que
- Kinder’s Custom Meats Inc.
- Memphis Championship Barbecue
- Sweet Baby Ray’s
- Porky ‘N Beans BBQ
- Rasta Joe’s BBQ Inc.
- Smokehouse Specialties
- Texas Outlaw Barbecue
- The Barbecue Company Inc.
- Uncle Bub’s
- Willingham’s World Champion BBQ
The next step was to read up on the descriptions of each company competing to see which ones I wanted to taste. The logic that I went with this year was: check the top 3 from last year and add the companies I’ve always wanted to try. I took note of the top 3 in ribs and top 3 in sauce.
Finally I viewed the map to see where each booth was located so I wasn’t going back and forth.
Oh, I almost forgot a step—bring cash even though some of the booths accept credit cards.
Part of the reason I wanted to attend this year was because I wanted to see what it takes to compete. Earlier this year I was part of an amateur rib competition where I received 2nd place. I wanted to taste what competition ribs taste like.
Over 2 days I was able to visit 8 of the 24 competitors. I knew there were going to be lines to get some ribs but I didn’t expect some of the long wait times. Bring water because the temperature reached the high 90s (Nevada heat). For those of you who are sensitive, bring sunscreen.
Out of the competitors I tasted, I really enjoyed Kinders and Chicago BBQ Company. Not for the sauce but for the actual ribs. For sauce, I like the sauce from Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ.
Here are my tips:
- Go early to avoid the sun and the lines.
- Stay away during sundown to avoid lines.
- Bring water, wear a heat, and put on sun screen.
- Plan ahead to visit specific vendors.
- Bring cash.
For next year, I’m considering signing up for a table. This is where you and 10 of your friends get unlimited ribs and drinks at a low price. The major plus is that you don’t have to stand in lines.
The Nugget Rib Cook-Off 2012 winners are:
- First place: Chicago BBQ Company, $7,500
- Second place: Sweet Baby Ray’s, $3,000
- Third place: Famous Dave’s, $2,000
- Fourth place: Porky ‘n’ Beans, $1,000
- Fifth place: Checkered Pig, $500
- Best Sauce Award: Famous Dave’s, $500
- People’s Choice Award: Back Forty Texas Barbecue, $500
This was Sweet Baby Ray’s first time to compete in this competition.