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Six pitmasters won cash and braggin’ rights at Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Video: What's behind the Nugget Rib Cook-off?

Add 24 professional cooks, 500,000 barbecue lovers, 250,000 pounds of pork ribs and what do you get?
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Add 24 professional cooks, 500,000 barbecue lovers, 250,000 pounds of pork ribs and what do you get?

A half-million barbecue lovers converged on the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nev., Sept. 2-7 for the 27th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, the biggest such throw-down in the country.

The hungry crowds ate a quarter-million pounds of St. Louis-style pork ribs, rubbed, smoked, sauced and sold by 24 professional cooking teams that travel a national circuit.

When the official judging was done, Bone Daddy’s BBQ from Michigan took top honors for best ribs, and captured the People’s Choice award as well. This is the third time Bone Daddy’s has won first place at the cook-off; it placed second in last year’s competition.

Along Victorian Square over the extended Labor Day “weekend,” thousands of people lined up at the cookers’ massive storefronts to indulge in ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, brisket and beef ribs, roasted corn and onion rings. Live music played on several stages.

On Sunday, a panel of 13 judges from around the country sampled ribs and sauces from the competitors, and scored them according to strict criteria to choose the winners. The six-day event – considered the most prestigious rib-cooking contest in the U.S. – culminated Monday, when hotel officials announced the winners to a cheering crowd.

More valuable than the cash prizes and trophies are the braggin’ rights that accompany the victories; they translate into big-time sales to the public down the line.

This year’s winners were:

First place: Bone Daddy’s BBQ (Midland, Mich.), $7,500

Second: Famous Dave’s BBQ (Plymouth, Minn. and Reno, Nev.), $3,000

Third: Uncle Bub’s (Westmount, Ill.), $2,000

Fourth: Back Forty Texas BBQ (Pleasant Hill, Calif.), $1,000

Fifth: Texas Outlaw Barbecue (Elizabethtown, Ky.), $500

Best Sauce: Aussom Aussie Australian BBQ Company (Pittsburg, Penn.), $500

People’s Choice: Bone Daddy’s BBQ

The 28th annual rib cook-off is scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 5, 2016.

Add 24 professional cooks, 500,000 barbecue lovers, 250,000 pounds of pork ribs and what do you get?

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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