Ain't No Bad Ribs in Reno!September 10, 2008 According to Jim Heywood, retired instructor at the Culinary Institute of America and head judge of the Best in the West Rib Cook-off, "There ain't no bad ribs in Reno!"
I have to agree! At the Best in the West cook-off held in Sparks, NV (at John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort), there weren't any bad ribs nor lack of people.
The pre-event estimate was that around 500,000 people would be in attendance.....but when you get over 499,000 people, who's really counting? You can bet that the 24 cooking teams were counting!
The event opened at 11 am each morning and closed precisely at 9 pm every evening. During those 10 hours, very rarely was there not a line for ribs, pulled pork, brisket, tri-tip or fried pickles.
Our location was in a great spot right around some of the past winners... Butch with "Butch's Smack your lips BBQ" was right up the street and won the People's Choice award. Famous Dave's, who won the event the last two years, was across the street. And Checkered Pig, the Grand Champion at last week's KCBS event in Salt Lake City and Best in the West winner in 2004, was right around the corner.
There were teams from all across the country, each serving their unique taste in BBQ. Did I mention fried pickles?? Memphis Championship BBQ - the Mike Mills of the "Peace, Love and Barbeque" fame - was right beside us. Chris tried some but I was a bit picky as always.
At each event, we seem to make new friends and acquaintances and this time was not an exception. Hank & Tracy from the sidewinderbbq.com booth came over and showed us their invention which is like the bbq hook but with more features. Worked like a charm and some lucky friends and family members just might be receiving one for Christmas.
The craft area was outstanding and you could find just about anything you wished for - other than a t-shirt airbrush artist that we have been looking for. We also met Steve Overlay from Memphis Championship BBQ who is also a CBJ and competition cook with the Sin City Smokers. He also told us about his entering a pork contest and was in the finals. I just checked and it looks like Steve won the contest with his winning recipe :http://www.cnbc.com/id/26550080/.
If you are heading to Reno, take the scenic view and please stop off in Sparks. Make sure to eat at Rosie's Cafe and try your hand with Whammy at John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino where they treat you like family.
Next stop... Charlotte, N.C.
Mike & Chris