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Judges Announced For the 27th Annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Reno/Sparks, Nevada - As 24 rib cookers from all over the world compete for top honors at the 2015 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, a carefully selected panel of 14 judges will work behind-the-scenes to determine who makes the best ribs.

It's not just bragging rights they're competing for - $14,500 in cash is up for grabs for the cookers who impress the judges.

As always, the judges are not permitted to sample any ribs from the rib cookers before the judging takes place on Sunday, September 6, 2015. The judging is double-blind, meaning neither the judges, nor the staff setting up the judging, know which ribs belong to which cooker. The judges will eat the same ribs served to customers during the cook-off.

The winners will be announced at 2:00 p.m. on the Floor & Decor West End Stage on Monday, September 7, 2015.

This year's judges are a mix of top culinary professionals, food critics and media personalities, who all share a passion for delicious barbecue.

Head Judge Alan Zeman

Rational USA

Chef Alan Zeman graduated first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America. He has earned CEC Certification from the ACF, as well as being inducted into the American Academy of Chefs. He has been Executive Chef at restaurants, country clubs and prestigious resorts throughout the country. Most recently Chef Zeman owned and operated the award winning Fuego Restaurant Bar and Grill in Tucson, Arizona.

Allen Pierleoni

Sacramento Bee

Allen Pierleoni is a senior writer for the Sacramento Bee, specializing in food and restaurants, travel, books and authors. His weekly restaurant review column, "Counter Culture," has informed readers for 15 years.

D. Brian Burghart

Reno News & Review

D. Brian Burghart is the editor of the Reno News & Review. He's been in Reno since August 7, 1984. Desperate for attention, he tended bar in Reno casinos and bars until November 1993, when some friends who were starting a newspaper needed someone to do the calendar for $25 a week. The Nevada Weekly introduced Reno to alternative journalism.

Eric Grossman

Food and Travel Writer

Eric Grossman is a food and travel writer who, when he's not on the road, splits his time between New Orleans and his hometown of Boston. He has written about America's best BBQ spots for USA TODAY, edited dozens of Eyewitness Travel guides, and is constantly traveling in search of new and inspiring experiences. Having met with the meat masters of Memphis, Kansas City, North Carolina, and Lockhart, Texas, he knows a thing or two about serious 'cue.

Gerrish Lopez

Food and Travel Writer/Photographer

Gerrish Lopez is a food and travel writer/photographer based in her hometown of New Orleans. A former vegetarian, Gerrish has grown to appreciate carnivorous fare through sampling the best meats in the world, from smoked pork jowl in Thailand to whole hog barbecue in South Carolina. Her assignments for USA TODAY and Eyewitness Travel guides keep her on the road constantly, and she is excited to be making her first-ever visit to the Reno/Tahoe region for the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off.

Joe Eidem

American Culinary Federation & High Sierra Chefs Association

Chef Joe Eidem has been actively involved with the American Culinary Federation for more than 30 years. He is an active board member of the High Sierra Chefs Association and is also the Vice Director of the Western Regional American Academy of Chefs. During his career, Chef Joe has owned an Italian restaurant and hosted a local television cooking show. He has also traveled as a motivational speaker. Most recently, he served as the Foodservice Director at a large Medical Center in Nevada and California.

Kelly Ann Scott

Reno Gazette-Journal

Kelly Ann Scott is the Executive Editor for the Reno Gazette-Journal. She is also a former instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno where she taught multimedia reporting. Kelly has been a big part of the Reno community and she is involved in multiple organizations and mentoring programs. Kelly serves on the Board of Directors for the Reno Pops Orchestra and the Nevada Women’s Fund.

Ken Wayne

KTVU

Ken Wayne has anchored the weekend news at KTVU since 2002. He started his career at KTVU in 1992 and has covered some of the biggest stories in the Bay Area and California since then. He's been on the scene of floods, fires, earthquakes, and almost every major Bay Area story over the past 16 years. He's been honored by the regional Emmy's, the Associated Press and national Telly awards. Wayne's passion for TV is equal to his passion for delicious barbecue, and he says he's excited to be part of this elite group of Nugget Rib Cook-Off judges!

Lara Ritchie

American Culinary Federation & High Sierra Chefs Association

Lara received her formal culinary training at the New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vermont and honed her culinary skills at La Folie in San Francisco, the Flying Fish in Seattle, and the Four Seasons in Seattle and Atlanta where Zagat guide voted her brunch #1 in Atlanta. Lara’s food styling has appeared in such magazines as Art Culinaire and she has had the honor of cooking at the James Beard House in New York on several occasions. Since 2002, Lara has been the culinary director for Nothing to It! Culinary Center in Reno. Lara is the chef/host of the Delicious by Davita television cooking segment series, a contributing chef on FOX TV, and a frequent guest and judge at a variety of food and wine festivals. Lara is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Matt Russell

On the Menu…Live!

Matt Russell is the host of On the Menu…Live!, a weekly radio program that dishes out the latest buzz on Arizona’s culinary and cocktail scene. He also serves as the food and beverage correspondent for the Bill Buckmaster Show and John C. Scott Show in Tucson, and writes the weekly food and beverage column for Inside Tucson Business, Southern Arizona’s business journal. When he's not on the radio, writing his column, or serving as Master of Ceremonies at community events, he's running Russell Public Communications, a public relations agency he founded in 2002.

Mike Alger

KTVN

Returning to the judges table for the second time is KTVN Chief Meteorologist Mike Alger. He served as a Judge during the 2013 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, but has been eating all his life. He's been a mainstay on KTVN-TV since May of 1989 and has provided northern Nevada with "Weather Coverage You Can Count On."

Mike Peters

Great American BBQ Tour

Since 2008, Mike and his wife Christine have been traveling the country teaching festival attendees and fans about the "Gospel of Q" as the hosts of the Great American BBQ Tour. As tour hosts, they are the Kansas City Barbeque Society's ambassadors to the world. During the past eight years, the Peters have journeyed tens of thousands of miles across the nation and back, acting as the voice of KCBS and promoting BBQ while teaching professional grilling tips and tricks to millions of festival attendees. Mike is also currently serving as the President of Kansas City Barbecue Society, the world's largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts!

Ron James

Wild 102.9

Born and “half-raised’ in a small town in Arkansas called McCrory where barbecue is THE way of life, Ron James is no stranger to the art of meat cooked on an open pit. Growing up in the heart of Detroit, he landed his first on-air job on the station he grew up listening to, working under some of his childhood heroes. Traveling the country during his radio career he has tasted hundreds of ribs. And his favorite…ALL OF THEM. Ron has been here in Reno for the last eight years and has become a household name. You can hear Ron on Wild 102.9 in Reno on weekday mornings.

Spud Hilton

San Francisco Chronicle

Spud Hilton is the travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle who, during the past 10 years, has written about (and been lost in) destinations on six continents, from the back alleys of Havana to the shrines of Kyoto to the floor of a hippie bus in Modesto. He also writes the Bad Latitude travel blog at SFGate.com.

For more information, visit NuggetRibCookOff.com and NuggetCasinoResort.com.


***PHOTOS OF THE JUDGES ARE AVAILABLE HERE: http://nuggetribcookoff.com/About-The-Event/Judges.html

 

The Ultimate Guide to the 27th Annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Reno/Sparks, Nevada – The 27th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off will run Wednesday, September 2 through Monday, September 7, 2015 at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada. This must-attend barbecue, music and craft festival is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday. Admission, parking and entertainment are free!

“The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is the largest barbecue festival of its kind in the country,” said Nugget President & CEO Carlton Geer. “We’re proud to offer people the opportunity to experience the best barbecue in the world, right here in Sparks.”

More than 500,000 visitors and 240,000 pounds of ribs were served in 2014. The wide variety of activities within the event, including the Nugget World Rib Eating Championship, a carnival area with rides and activities, and top-notch entertainment – not to mention the best barbecue in the country  - all come together to draw thousands of people to Victorian Square every extended Labor Day weekend.

Rib Cookers:

Twenty-four of the world’s most-decorated and talented rib cookers will feed event goers, while competing for a total cash purse of $14,500 and the title of “Best in the West” – a designation many cookers consider to be the ultimate prize in high-volume, competitive barbecue.  

In 2014, Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Company from Hinckley, Ohio took home the title of “Best in the West.” Second place went to Bone Daddy’s BBQ from Midland, Michigan and Famous Dave’s competitive barbecue team from Minnetonka, Minnesota won 3rd place. The 2014 People’s Choice Award was given to Back Forty Texas Barbecue from Pleasant Hill, California.

Three new competitors will join this elite line-up of rib cookers, including Austin’s Texas Lightning BBQ from Burr Ridge, Illinois, Montana Q Bar-B-Que House from Frenchtown, Montana and Smokin’ Joe’s Hog Wild Barbecue from Mansfield, Ohio.

The 21 other rib cookers making their return to the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off are Aussom Aussie BBQ Company (Pittsburgh, PA); Back Forty Texas Barbecue (Pleasant Hill, CA); The Barbecue Company (Phoenix, AZ); BJ’s Barbecue (Sparks, NV); Bone Daddy’s BBQ (Midland, MI); Bourbon Q (Westport, KY); Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ (Mt. Laurel, NJ); Carson City BBQ (Carson City, NV); Checkered Pig BBQ (Martinsville, VA); Chicago BBQ Company (Burr Ridge, IL); Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Company (Hinckley, OH); Famous Dave’s BBQ (Minnetonka, MN and Reno, NV); Hole in the Wall BBQ (Eugene, OR); Johnson’s Bar-B-Que (Chesapeake, VA); Just North of Memphis (Minneapolis, MN); Kinder’s Custom Meats Inc. (Concord, CA); Porky ‘N Beans (Port Saint Lucie, FL) Rasta Joe’s BBQ Inc. (Rochester, IN); Texas Outlaw Barbecue (Elizabethtown, KY); Texas Thunder BBQ (Borger, TX); and Uncle Bub’s (Westmont, IL).


Nugget World Rib Eating Championship:

Wednesday, September 2 at 6 p.m. at the Main Stage

Major League Eating (MLE), the governing body of all stomach-centric sports, will host the 10th annual Nugget World Rib Eating Championship at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 2, at the Main Stage. The country’s best competitive eaters, including #1-ranked Matt “Megatoad” Stonie and #2-ranked Joey “Jaws” Chestnut will vie for $5,000 in prize money and the title of Nugget World Rib-Eating Champion. MLE conducts more than 90 events annually, including the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, NY. Joey Chestnut won the championship in 2014 after eating 9.27 pounds of ribs during the 12-minute contest.

Entertainment:

The Nugget Casino Resort will welcome many talented musicians to be a big part of the celebration. All of the entertainment is provided free-of-charge.

Wednesday, September 2:

Floor & Décor West End Stage –

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Jeff Jones

2:30 p.m. – 5: 30 p.m. – Blue Haven

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Alias Smith

7 p.m. – MAIN STAGE: Mojo Green & Jelly Bread

Thursday, Sept. 3

Floor & Décor West End Stage –

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Tyler Stafford

2:30 p.m. – 5: 30 p.m. – Valentine Rodeo

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Buddy Emmer

7 p.m. - MAIN STAGE: Jamestown Revival

Friday, Sept. 4

Floor & Décor West End Stage –

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Rick Hammond Blues Band

2:30 p.m. – 5: 30 p.m. – Jason King Band

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – John Dawson Band

7 p.m. - MAIN STAGE: Dishwalla

Saturday, Sept. 5

Floor & Décor West End Stage –

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Guitar Woody and the Boilers

2:30 p.m. – 5: 30 p.m. – Greg Golden Band

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Mark Sexton Band

7 p.m. - MAIN STAGE: LOCASH

Sunday, Sept. 6


Floor & Décor West End Stage -

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Max Volume Band

2:30 p.m. – 5: 30 p.m. – Audio Sky

6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – West Bay Rhythm

7 p.m. - MAIN STAGE: Foghat

Monday, Sept. 7

Floor & Décor West End Stage -

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Delta Cat

2:00 p.m.– Awards Ceremony

2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Armer and the Hot Dogs

7 p.m. - MAIN STAGE: ALO

Shuttle Service:

Daily shuttle service from the Outlets at Legends will run Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.  There is no shuttle service on Monday. The pickup location will be in the unpaved lot between Fuddruckers and Popeye’s, and the drop-off location is the RTC Centennial Plaza on Victorian Square.

New Beer Garden:

The Nugget Casino Resort is partnering with Budweiser to bring a brand new craft Beer Garden area to the rib cook-off. The Beer Garden will be located on Victorian Plaza, near the fountain. Craft beers have grown in popularity and attendees have been asking the Nugget to expand its selection at the event. Enjoy select craft beers that were specially selected to pair well with delicious barbecue.

Kids’ Area:

There will be a children’s area located on the west end of Victorian Plaza. Children will delight in an array of rides and activities. Ride tickets will be available for purchase just outside the kids’ area.

Mascot:

The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off’s famous mascot, Mr. Ribster will return to the event this year. He will be walking around during the event and making a special appearance at the Ribster Lunch on Saturday, September 5 from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.NuggetRibCookOff.com.

The Official After-Party:

The cookers at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off close their booths at 9 p.m, but that doesn’t mean the party is over. Head inside the Nugget Casino Resort to Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-b-que for the Official After-Party. Gilley’s is offering prizes for the best mechanical-bull riders on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after 9 p.m.

Website/Social Media:

Get updates during the event!

Website: www.nuggetribcookoff.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nuggetribs

Twitter: @nuggetribs

Instagram: @nuggetribs

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nuggetribs

YouTube: www.youtube.com/nuggetribs

Use the official hashtag #NuggetRibs.

For more information, visit NuggetRibCookOff.com and NuggetCasinoResort.com.

Thank you to 2015’s Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off sponsors, including AT&T, Cabela’s, Floor & Décor, Fox 11, Amerigen Power Solutions, IGT, Kansas City Barbecue Society, KBUL Nash FM 98.1 and Cumulus, Kenwood Vineyards, KOZZ and Lotus Radio, More 106.9 FM and Reno Media Group, Model Dairy, Morrey Distributing and Budweiser, Northern Nevada Toyota Dealers, Seaboard Farms, the City of Sparks, Swire Coca Cola and Wells Fargo.

The Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada is one of the Reno/Tahoe region's most affordable vacation and convention destinations, featuring a multitude of amenities, including 1,400 guestrooms, 110,000 square feet of meeting space, eight award-winning dining outlets including Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-B-Que, a year-round atrium pool and numerous other activities.  For more information, please visit www.nuggetcasinoresort.com, call 1-800-648-1177, or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Three New Competitors Announced for the 2015 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Reno/Sparks, Nevada – The Nugget Casino Resort is proud to announce three new rib cookers participating in the 27th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. They’ll be competing with 21 other cookers for bragging rights, cash prizes and the chance to become the “Best in the West.”

“We love to mix it up with new cookers every year and give them the chance to compete against the best in the industry,” said Lisa Jansen, director of special events and entertainment. “It also gives people a chance to try new, regional barbecue flavors at the rib cook-off.”

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 is their first time at Best in the West, but Haggerty has been to the cook-off for many years as part of her father’s competitive barbecue team, Chicago BBQ.

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 this year’s Miles City Cowtown Cook-off.

Smokin’ Joe’s Hog Wild Barbecue is based in Mansfield, Ohio, and was founded by Joe and Sheila Henderson. Over the past 14 years, they’ve received nearly a hundred awards at cook-offs across the Midwest and East Coast. In 2014, they won the “People’s Choice” award at the Celoron, New York Ribfest.

The 21 other cookers making their return to the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off are Aussom Aussie BBQ Company (Pittsburgh, PA); Back Forty Texas Barbecue (Pleasant Hill, CA); The Barbecue Company (Phoenix, AZ); BJ’s Barbecue (Sparks, NV); Bone Daddy’s BBQ (Midland, MI); Bourbon Q (Westport, KY); Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ (Mt. Laurel, NJ); Carson City BBQ (Carson City, NV); Checkered Pig BBQ (Martinsville, VA); Chicago BBQ Company (Burr Ridge, IL); Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Company (Hinckley, OH); Famous Dave’s BBQ (Minnetonka, MN and Reno, NV); Hole in the Wall BBQ (Eugene, OR); Johnson’s Bar-B-Que (Chesapeake, VA); Just North of Memphis (Minneapolis, MN); Kinder’s Custom Meats Inc. (Concord, CA); Porky ‘N Beans (Port Saint Lucie, FL) Rasta Joe’s BBQ Inc. (Rochester, IN); Texas Outlaw Barbecue (Elizabethtown, KY); Texas Thunder BBQ (Borger, TX); and Uncle Bub’s (Westmont, IL).

The 2015 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off will be held at the Nugget Casino Resort from September 2 – 7. The six-day event attracts more than 500,000 people as 24 of the world’s best cookers serve up more than 240,000 pounds of ribs.

For more information please visit NuggetRibCookOff.com and NuggetCasinoResort.com.

The Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada is one of the Reno/Tahoe region's most affordable vacation and convention destinations, featuring a multitude of amenities, including 1,400 guestrooms, 110,000 square feet of meeting space, eight award-winning dining outlets including Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-B-Que, a year-round atrium pool and numerous other activities.  For more information, please visit www.nuggetcasinoresort.com, call 1-800-648-1177, or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

New Logo, Ribster Lunch Planned for the 2015 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Reno/Sparks, Nevada – The 27th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is just weeks away and the Nugget Casino Resort is debuting a brand new logo for 2015. The Nugget has redesigned the event’s logo each year since the event started.

“The community is always excited when we announce the new design,” said Lisa Jansen, director of special events and entertainment. “It’s fun for us to reinvent our logo each year!”

This year’s logo features a country-western themed pig. The pig, dressed in a cowboy hat and boots, is leaning up against a barrel of top-secret barbecue sauce.

Also new in 2015, the Nugget is adding a special VIP Rib Village Lunch, called Ribster Lunch, on Saturday, September 5.

“We have an overwhelming demand for tables in Rib Village, especially on Saturday night, which is sold out this year,” said Jansen. “Adding the Ribster Lunch on Saturday allows even more people to have the same VIP Rib Village experience with all-you-can-eat ribs and all-you-can-responsibly-drink beverages.”

The only difference – it’s during the day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The cost is less, too, at just $75 per person or $700 per table of 10. The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off’s mascot, Mr. Ribster, will also be making an appearance at the lunch for photo opportunities.

The 2015 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off will be held at the Nugget Casino Resort from September 2 – 7. The six-day event attracts more than 500,000 people as 24 of the world’s best cookers serve up more than 241,000 pounds of ribs.

For more information please visit NuggetRibCookOff.com and NuggetCasinoResort.com.

The Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada is one of the Reno/Tahoe region's most affordable vacation and convention destinations, featuring a multitude of amenities, including 1,400 guestrooms, 110,000 square feet of meeting space, eight award-winning dining outlets including Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall & Bar-B-Que, a year-round atrium pool and numerous other activities.  For more information, please visit www.nuggetcasinoresort.com, call 1-800-648-1177, or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

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