The world’s top rib cookers compete for top honors each year at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. The competition is widely regarded as the most prestigious rib cook-off in the country.
The rib cookers aren’t just competing for bragging rights — $19,500 in cash is up for grabs for those who impress the judges the most. Winners are announced on Monday at 2 p.m.
In honor of The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off’s 30th Anniversary this year, we are excited to welcome 3 new cookers! Check out Blazin’ Bronco BBQ, Paleo Nick’s and Porky Chicks BBQ!
Blazin’ Bronco BBQ
Location: Port St. Lucie, Florida
Dennis Carrino has 35 years in the food industry. His experiences include restaurant owner, chef and grill master of the National B.B.Q. Cooking Team Blazin Bronco. After 30 years in national competition, they have gained notoriety and a reputation for excellence. As a result, they are considered visionaries, and are consistently imitated, for their booth designs, marketing concepts, and BBQ food trailers. Blazin Bronco exemplifies the spirit of the National Rib Cook-offs and brings exciting new energy, recipes, and products to each event.
In 1982 Carrino was invited to participate in the 2nd Annual Ribs Cookoff in Cleveland and has held a high standard of taste and service ever since. In addition to barbecue ribs and chicken that are cooked fresh each day, their pulled pork sandwich surpasses the best! Cooked for 12 hours, smoked with apple and cherry wood in a genuine Southern Pride Oven, and then drizzled with fresh, homemade sauce. .… JUST DELICIOUS! No wonder their B.B.Q. has earned them a continuous spot on the Food Channel and many other BBQ appearances on national TV. And other products are also available at the Blazin Bronco booth, such as barbecue sauce, rib seasoning, hot sauce line, hats, shirts and aprons!
Location: Truckee, CA
Nick Massie (AKA Paleo Nick) has over 20 years as a professional cook and is passionate about BBQ. He won the people’s choice award at the 2003 Great Alaskan One Pot Cook-Off and in 2016, he had the opportunity to present his business to the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank. Accompanied by his team of Culinary Ninjas and a whole heap of “Super Radical Rib Rub”, he hopes to bring a new flavor to the competition this year.
From Ribs ’N’ Sweets to “Paleo-Q Sauce”, all of his fare falls in line with the Paleo diet. Gluten free, grain free and sugar free are the name of the game, so don’t expect any Texas toast here… Instead look to his Tahoe Tacos for something different. Comprised of a roasted sweet potato stuffed with braised meat and topped with fresh guacamole and salsa, Paleo Nick’s brings a Southwest flair to the BBQ scene. And, if that’s not enough, be sure to lay hold of the Tahoe Tomahawk, a 32oz. Bone-In Ribeye Steak, smoked to perfection…
Porky Chicks BBQ
Location: Fayetteville, AR
Mark Grant has 34 years of experience in food service. In 2006 he became the owner of Porky Chicks BBQ which was a dream come true. During that time, he started participating in BBQ competitions nationwide and developed a desire to compete and produce quality BBQ. For the past 12 years, he has competed in some of the largest U.S. and Canadian BBQ competitions earning an exceptional reputation in food quality and service. For this reason, he continues to receive invitations to some of the top food festivals in America and Canada.
With over 150 wins Across the US, Porky chicks BBQ has become known for their tender and mouthwatering ribs. He has won multiple awards for his ribs including 1st place in ribs at Canada’s largest rib fest and 1st place ribs 2 years in a row at the NFL draft party in Phoenix, Arizona. Besides, who knows a rib better than a razorback? But it isn’t just the ribs that bring customers to his booth. It’s the smell of slow cooked Brisket and pork, with his delicious homemade dry rub under a fire filled with hickory wood. This style of pit mastery has landed him on multiple news channels, newspapers, and given him a chance at some of the largest shows worldwide. He has traveled across the United States and he is now bringing his top line BBQ to the largest rib fest in the US, the Nugget Rib Cook Off.
We are also pleased to welcome back the following cookers! See you soon!
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Origin: Sydney, Australia)
About Us: Aussom Aussie is Australia’s most-accomplished barbecue chef with more than 375 awards for best BBQ in the USA and Canada. A veteran of nearly 30 years in the International BBQ Circuit, Paul “Aussom Aussie” Mackay started competing in BBQ contests in 1988. After several years, he and his father developed their very own traditional Australian fruit-based barbecue sauce. Taking on the best barbecue chefs, he came to North America to prove he had a winning formula. Paul’s sauces, seasonings and supplies are simply the best you can buy, if you take the art of Barbie (BBQ) seriously. Winning 5 Best Ribs and 7 People’s choices and 4 Best Sauce awards in 2016, Aussom Aussie is looking to defend their 2015 victory for Best Sauce, as well as take the coveted title of “Best in West” at the 2018 Nugget Rib Cook-Off!
Austin’s Texas Lightning BBQ
Location: Burr Ridge, IL
About Us: Austin’s Texas Lightning BBQ is from Burr Ridge, Illinois, and they’ve been on the road for 30 years, competing in cook-offs across the United States. Pitmaster Nikki Haggerty and her team have won numerous awards over the years, including awards at the Chicago Windy City Rib Fest and the Mankato Ribfest in Minnesota. This will be their fourth time at Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, but Haggerty has been to the cook-off for many years as part of her father’s competitive barbecue team, Chicago BBQ.
Back Forty Texas Barbecue
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
About Us: 2017 Winner of the People’s Choice Award, Back Forty Texas Barbecue has been invited to compete in the National Rib Cook-Off every year since 1991, where they have brought home several 1st Place awards for Ribs, Sauce and People’s Choice. Mike and Jeff opened Back Forty Roadhouse and Saloon, located in Pleasant Hill, CA, in 1978. They put together a national award-winning team and have been competing ever since.
History: 2017 People’s Choice, 4th 2015, People’s Choice 2014, 2012 People’s Choice, 1st 2011, 1998 People’s Choice, 1997 People’s Choice, 5th 1996, Best Sauce 1996, 4th 1995, Best Sauce 1995, 4th 1992
Location: Sparks, NV
About Us: Family owned and operated for over 30 years, BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company is a Reno-Sparks locals’ favorite. BJ’s Victorian Avenue Restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, including delicious BBQ pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, shredded pork, Louisiana hot links, salads, burgers, wings and more!
Location: Westport, KY
About Us: Since buying their first mobile pit in 1984, Team BourbonQ has competed coast to coast in dozens of local and national cooking events winning numerous awards for their ribs and signature products. Bourbon Q brings a bit of The “Bleu-grass” with them; you will love their (often imitated, but never duplicated) Famous Blue Cheese Coleslaw. You can find their award-winning sauces and rubs on the shelves in hundreds of retailers across North America and abroad.
Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ
Location: Mt. Laurel, NJ
About Us: Butch Lupinetti was a jovial, colorful, kissing pitmaster who left his New Jersey home every spring and summer and traveled across the country competing and winning awards for decades. His proudest achievement came when he won a Throwdown against Bobby Flay on the Food Network. At his passing, he held over 500 national and international awards. Now his daughter, Aly Lupinetti, and her husband, Matt Meyer, continue in those winning ways. They cook their meat North Carolina style, using a dry rub which contains a blend of 30 different spices. Their sauces (gluten free) compliment the flavor and come in 5 varieties, Mild, Spicy Sweet, Happy Apple, Pyro and, if you dare, Super Pyro! Remember Butch’s mantra “Cook ’em low, cook ’em slow, serve no swine before it’s time!”
Carson City BBQ
Location: Carson City, NV
About Us: Carson City BBQ is one of Nevada’s most award-winning barbecue companies! Their first contest was the Arizona Rib Round Up. They tried their luck again at the Best on the Mountain Horizon Rib Cook-Off and won Best Sauce. Following this, they won 1st or 2nd place for sauce and 1st place for ribs over the next five years. In 1998, they entered the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off for the first time! Carson City BBQ also offers year-round catering.
Checkered Pig BBQ
Location: Martinsville, VA
About Us: Tommy and Lisa Houston have owned and operated their family business Checkered Pig BBQ & Ribs for over 20 years in Martinsville, VA. They now have a second location in Danville, VA as well. They started on the competition circuit in 2000, competing mostly in KCBS sanctioned events and won over 250 awards for their ribs, chicken, pork and Brisket, as well as their sauce. Checkered Pig was also featured on Food Network for winning the Best in the West Rib Cook Off in 2004, putting their ribs on the map. They have traveled across country to the Best in the West Cook Off for over 15 years to bring award-winning ribs and southern hospitality.
Chicago BBQ Company
Location: Burr Ridge, IL
About Us: Tom Ferguson, owner and BBQ expert, had a vision of creating Chicago’s ultimate BBQ experience, after retiring from owning a chain of Italian restaurants in suburban Chicagoland. In 1985, Tom started competing in national Rib Cook-Offs. Then in 1986, the Chicago BBQ Company won the title of The Best Ribs in the World at the Richmond World Invitational Rib Cook-Off and the awards started flowing in. With over 300 national and local awards, Tom is still going strong. He also has the bragging rights of winning over ten awards at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook Off. Tom brings his love and passion to every slab served!
Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Co.
Location: Hinckley, OH
About Us: Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Co. is also known by their famous slogan, “Lick My Ribs.” The company, owned by Donna Rice, operates out of Hinckley, Ohio. Rice serves up delicious ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, cornbread, mac & cheese and more. Their gluten-free sauce has won the Best Sauce in America award and Desperado’s took home 1st Place in the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off in 2014. Their competitive barbecue team has won 1st place trophies in 26 states.
Famous Dave’s BBQ
Location: Minnetonka, MN
About Us: Dave started with a hankerin’ for fine barbecue and a desire to make the finest slow-smoked barbecue folks had ever tasted. He visited rib shacks, roadside joints, every hole-in-the-wall or fancy pants supper club he could, in search of the most BBQ succulent meats savory seasoning and lip-smackin’ sauces around. After 25 years of tastin’ and cookin,’ Dave decided he had to share. He’s received more awards than he has walls to hang ’em on. Over 700 in all. But that’s for you to judge, ’cause after all, you’re their best critics. Come on in, they’ll treat y’all right!
Hole in the Wall BBQ
Location: Eugene, OR
About Us: In 1992, they moved from Arizona to Oregon and were in need of some delicious barbecue, but couldn’t find any! So, they decided to solve the problem themselves and bought a property. After a whole year of intense renovations, Hole in the Wall BBQ was born. Hole in the Wall BBQ is Eugene and Springfield’s best kept secret. This Oregon-based cooker is best known for their authentic daily slow-smoked barbecue meats and dry rubs that create that genuine deep barbecue flavor. They are known for their famous Smoked Half-Pound Cheese and Bacon Burger, Prime Rib French Dip, Smoked Meatloaf – just to name a few.
Joey’s Texas Thunder
Location: Borger, TX
About Us: Joey Sutphen has operated Sutphen’s Family-Style Restaurants since 1950. They are the barbecue that all others are measured by in the Texas Panhandle for more than 40 years. Visiting 11 states and 15 cities annually, they’ve served wood-cooked and wood-smoked BBQ to the Texas delegation of the U.S. Congress, the Governor and distinguished guests and approximately 2,600 crew members at the christening of the USS Texas, factory workers in Oregon and Tennessee, Phillips Oil men working in the North Sea, celebrity fox hunts in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut and celebrity tennis tournaments at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California.
History: 3rd 2016, Best Sauce 2002, 1st 1997, 2nd 1995, 1st 1992, 4th 1991, 2nd 1989
Just North of Memphis
Location: Minneapolis, MN
About Us: Located just south of the Mississippi River in Clearwater, MN, Jon and Kristy Bigalk operate their family-owned barbecue business called Just North of Memphis. For more than 20 years, Kristy and Jon have been cooking and competing with their Memphis-style barbecue all over the United States each summer, serving tens of thousands of people the best barbecue they can. With their new sauce affectionately named “Sweet Kristy’s,” 2012 was a breakout year for their barbecue team, winning 1st place awards in Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Columbus, Lincoln, Omaha and Miami.
Montana Q Bar-B-Que House
Location: Frenchtown, MT
About Us: Montana Q Bar-B-Que House joins us from Frenchtown, Montana. Montana Q was founded in 2010 by Tom Moua and Mary Hang after years of backyard barbecuing for family and friends. They recently took home the “People’s Choice” award in the 2015 Miles City Cowtown Cook-Off.
Location: Port Saint Lucie, FL
About Us: Porky-N-Beans has been a proud member of the National Award Winning Rib Cookers of America since 1983. They are national rib cook-off contenders and travel between 10,000 and 15,000 miles a year competing in cities from St. Paul, Minnesota to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They have won numerous rib cook off titles such as the prestigious Golden Rib Award and Best Ribs in America.
Rasta Joe’s BBQ Inc.
Location: Rochester, IN
About Us: In 1993, “Rasta Joe” Alexander turned his passion for barbecuing into a national award-winning business. The accolades and prize money started rolling in when Rasta Joe perfected his “Jamaican Style” sauce recipe after five trips to the Caribbean, where Joe discovered that blending local spices and flavorings – including Jamaican Rum – livened up his barbecue sauce even more. Considered by many to be one of the country’s top BBQ chefs, Rasta Joe continues to win national rib cook-off competitions from coast to coast. Joe takes his Southern Pride 700 Cooker on the traditional summer festival and fundraising circuit.
Texas Outlaw Barbecue
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
About Us: Jim Clayton, Owner of Texas Outlaw BBQ, has been a top competitor at the Nugget’s Best in the West Rib Cook-Off for over 25 years. Texas Outlaw BBQ is always a crowd favorite. What distinguishes this rib team is not the rub, the sauce, or the smoke, but the method they use. This rib team prefers the old fashioned method of cooking their BBQ by opting for lump charcoal and select woods. Texas Outlaw is one of the most award winning BBQ teams in North America, touting more than 300 national titles. Jim has also had the privilege of appearing on the Food Network and was featured on the Best in the West Segment. They are the only five time winner of the second largest rib cook-off in North America, the Naperville Rib Fest. Jim welcomes you to stop by anytime for a chat or some barbecue advice!
The Barbecue Company Inc.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
The Barbecue Company has been in business since 1987 and has been a cooker at the Nugget Rib Cook off for 26 years. They have won well over 100 awards in National and Regional Competitions through the United States including Sparks, Nevada, Naperville, Illinois, Houston Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, Cleveland, Ohio, Wausau, Wisconsin and many other events like the World Pork Expo Cook Off, Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook off and many others. The Barbecue Company has been featured on the Food Network, the Travel Channel’s “Rib Paradise” and “Meatloaf Paradise” Shows, PBS and the Outdoor Living Network. Their competition sauces and rubs have won prestigious awards at the International Fiery Food Show, The NBBQA Sauce and Rub Challenge and 1st place awards for sauces and rubs at the KCBS American Royal International BBQ Competition.
History: Best Sauce 2008, 4th 2004, 5th 2003, 4th 2001, 5th 1998, Best Sauce 1998, 2nd 1997, 1st 1995, 3rd 1993
Location: Westmont, IL
Don’t be fooled by their laid-back country look when you approach the booth. Uncle Bub’s takes its BBQ seriously. They have been operating a family run BBQ business for twenty years and have won multiple 1st place awards for their BBQ including back-to-back victories at “Ribfest Chicago” and the coveted 1st place “Best in The West” trophy for their BBQ sauce. Uncle Bub’s BBQ has been featured on “Chicago’s Best”, “Eating America” and “Windy City Live”, as well as several news media outlets across the country. They are best known for award winning ribs, flavorful pulled pork and fork-tender beef brisket. Also, their BBQ rub and sauces are both gluten free! They’ll be feeding you BBQ that’s so good, you’ll cry “Uncle!”