I just got home from Sparks, NV. I didn't know there was a Sparks, NV either until I received an invitation last month to judge the 20th annual rib cook-off at John Ascuaga's Nugget. It's the world's largest outdoor barbecue. Last year, more than 500,000 people attended. The invitation sounded like a chance to breathe in a corner of Americana I had not experienced. I imagined, however, something similar to the Puyallup Fair. I was right.The judging on Sunday culminated with an all-you-can-eat rib dinner across the street from the Nug.
The line went around the block. People came for the ribs, but stayed for Night Ranger. Shouts of "Sister Christian" rang out through the evening. It was their encore song. Lame.
Ribs from 24 professional cooks were judged. Ten points for appearance, 10 for texture and 20 for taste. "Bone Daddy's" took top honors which came with bragging rights and $14,500. When asked for comment Night Ranger said, "We just played a rib cook-off?"