A pair of long-time participants in the Glenn-Colusa Cattlewomen’s annual Rib Cook Off took home the hardware after Sunday’s competition, including Gene McKasson and Nikki Hancock, who took first for beef ribs, and team 2NQue, which took first for pork ribs.
For McKasson, it was his first time taking first place for ribs at a Colusa Western Days cooking competition, although he has frequently finished atop the field the now-defunct Dutch Oven Cook-Off and near the top in past rib cook offs. McKasson said he didn’t really plan on participating this time around.
“I wasn’t going to do it this year,” McKasson said prior to the judging, then, with a gesture to teammate Nikki Hancock added, “This was her idea. She told me she was going to do it.”
“He said that it is more work than you think,” Hancock said.
McKasson offered to help out with some of the work, and that decision ended up paying dividends: the pair earned $175 in prize winnings and a custom cutting board for their first place finish.
“It was the sauce,” McKasson said of his top-finishing beef ribs. “We didn’t do sauce on the other ribs, but we put it on the beef.”
Hancock said that McKasson’s watchful eye and cooking experience played a big role in the win.
“It was my first time ever doing a cook off. It was awesome – so fun to be here,” Hancock said, adding that she and McKasson would be back next year. “He doesn’t have a choice.”
For the 2NQue competitive barbecue team, led by Colusa resident Jim Saso and Arbuckle resident Ivan Maldonado, Sunday’s first place finish was a welcome one. The team is no stranger to barbecue contests (they’re planning to take part in 15 this year) and Saso said he was feeling down after a less-than-stellar finish the week before.
“We needed it. Last week, I was ready to quit,” Saso said. “It’s a passion, and we almost look at it like a business… You have to have some confidence, you have to know your cooker – there are so many little things you have to worry about to be consistent week-in and week-out.”
Team 2NQue also took home a custom cutting board and $175. It was the team’s second first-place finish for pork ribs, and the team has also taken first place for beef ribs once.
While the win helped restore some confidence to team 2NQue, Saso said that the Cattlewomen’s Rib Cook Off was about more than that.
“This contest is fun and a good opportunity for everyone to cook competitively and see what competition judging is like… It’s one of the better competitions out there because everyone is so close to each other, and everyone is rooting for one another.”
Princeton resident Jim Campbell earned the People’s Choice award for both his beef and pork ribs, earning him a total of $300 in prize money, while the Big Shot BBQ team – composed of Gina D’Arcangelo and Jack Simmons – won the inaugural Open Beef category for their filet mignon kebabs and earned $200.
In total, contestants cooked up 24 racks of beef ribs and 34 racks of pork for lunch. In addition to the ribs, entries into the Open Beef category included a selection of tri-tip, brisket, meatballs, and Big Shot BBQ’s kebabs.
“It looks pretty good, like we’re going to run out of ribs real quick,” organizer Alycen Goebel said as a long line was forming at the sheep barn before lunch was served. “I think that people like to come here to kick off the barbecue season. It’s a fun event, the stress level is low, and there’s some friendly competition involved too.”
After the event, Goebel said that the Glenn-Colusa Cattlewomen sold approximately 130 tickets and raised about $2,200. ■