The fourth annual BBQ Cookoff at Estel’s Dine by the Sea is history and 120 rib-loving customers have spoken: Rick Saager of Oregon — a frequent visitor to Ambergris Caye — is the People’s Choice among the six talented barbecue chefs.
For those of you keeping score, Rick’s ribs were the ones with the orange stick in them. There were six chefs in all.
The cook-off is a fundraiser for the two-year-old Sunshine Scholarship Foundation which is dedicated to giving the island’s neediest children a fighting chance at an education. This past year, six children were helped and Isla Bonita School got 20 portable computers according to Eve Dirnback, co-founder of the organization with Joy Flowers.
Last year, fresh to the island, Rose and I stumbled upon the cook-off. Too late to buy tickets we none-the-less had a great time soaking in the atmosphere and listening to a pick-up band of some of the island’s finest musicians. This year, we were ready for the ribs.
Every ticket holder gets a plate of six ribs, each rib with a different colored stick in it.
Yes! The blind taste test.
With our friends Rachel Brock and Ruthie and Chunky Rinehart we devised an informal test system: one bite from each rib, with the remaining meat and colored stick placed in order of preference. Each rib was so thick and juicy that several more rounds were possible before a proper sequence of colored sticks enabled each of us to pick the top three with confidence.
Ribs being ribs, no two people at our table had the same top three.
That should tell you how basically good they all were.
There were two divisions, People’s Choice and Judges Award.
I have become such a lackadaisical reporter since moving here, I didn’t get but the first names of the contestants. And the colors of the sticks. Pretty shameful. Didn’t even ask about the judges. Maybe it was the $5 rum and pineapple drinks and Belikin beers. Just saying. However, Ambergris Today did a great job covering the BBQ Cookoff. Read it here!
Anyhow, if you were there and remember your favorites according to the stick colors, here’s how it went down.
People’s Choice 1st: Rick Saager (orange stick); 2nd Charles Worthington (green); and 3rd Jim Gochenour (yellow). Jim’s you may recall was the spiciest of all the ribs. Charles, owner of Estels, was champion last year.
Judges’ Award: 1st Ali Rush (blue); 2nd Charles Worthington(green); and a tie for 3rd Kevin Urbina (purple) and Rick Saager (orange).