Saturday, 19 January 2013

London Ribfest 2012 ~ Rib & Sauce Judging

August 2012
First off I want to say this was grossley over-due. The August long weekend is long past.

After wandering around London Ribfest 2012 for a bit, I came across a welcome sight - my call as a 'celebrity' judge!

The event was moved to near the band-shell this year, and even security was there waiting for me!

I was also greeted by fellow blogger and rib judge Wilfred Reinke aka The Oshawa Ogre. Well, it was a banner of his anyway - but I finally did get to meet him in person!

The set up: Paper towel, moist towlettes, name tag, bottle of water, Coke (others got alcohol, but for someone like me, this was awesome), paper plates and cutlery.

We also got a binder with the official rib judge badge sticker. The rules and the score are the same as last year.

What would Ribfest be if it wasn't opened with Bill Paul, London Town Crier?

Part of the judging panel. Some familiar faces that I've gotten to know a bit for the past few years. Barry Orr sat beside me again, Councilor Harold Usher and Queen's Council Lawyer Murray Neilson were there too. This year I sat beside Jim Reyno of Metro London paper (see his article on judging HERE).  Also there was Joe Santore, Heather Jackson - Mayor of St Thomas, MPP Teresa Armstrong,  John Winston of Tourism London, Dale Carruthers of the London Free Press. Police Chief Brad Duncan was there too.

Our MC for the event was Toni Ross from Fresh FM radio. There were a lot of mildly inappropriate jokes from the largely male panel towards Toni about eating and ribs, but she was able to keep the guys in check. We all had a good time eating ribs and chatting with one another.


First on the judging agenda was sauces. Each rib vendor sent the sauce they thought would win best sauce. We were supplied with bread sticks to consume the sauce.

Each judge got a tray of sauces. I was behind everyone because I not only was judging, but I was also taking pictures, and taking notes.

To start with, I was so busy I forgot to photograph #1 completely. Sorry. Here are my notes as I wrote them down:

  1. 'sweet/savory, chunks of pepper, slight fruity flavour. good - 8'
  2. 'brown sauce, little heat - 7'
  3. 'thick, spice, ketchup taste - 5'
  4. 'brown sauce - little spice - 5'
  5. 'paste sauce - 5'

When I say 'brown sauce' I mean something like an HP sauce.

6.   'chunky, growing heat, -5'
7.   'plam - bold - 4'  (I don't know what plam is supposed to read - plain? plum?)
8.   'plain - 4'
9.   'Oregano? No _____ -5'
10. 'Thick, bitter - 3'

For me, the first was the best.


It wasn't long before the ribs were on their way out. This is the exciting part.

1.  'Tender and tough, soft no crispiness to bark. Plain sauce, no smoke flavour'
2.  'Big, thick rib - not crispy, little tough. Nice smoke rub, super meaty'
3.  'Crispy bark, saucy - sweet like ketchup - sticky, good texture'

4.  'saucy but rub comes out (no tug), more about rib than sauce. bark - salty, little tug'
5.  'tender/tough - sauce is blah but some herb, not so great'
6.  'Smokey, bark, tender, salty, more rub than sauce, sauce is mild'

7.  'Smokey - but gas smokey not wood smokey. Sweet but 'bold', but a mild bold. Rib good but sauce gas smokey'.
8.  'Sweet sauce, grissely rib - tough. Fruity sauce.'
9.  'Huge - super tender - has boozey taste? but mile mild sauce.'
10. 'Dark, slightly sour. Tender - but no real flavour.'

My highlights were #6 and #4 whoever they were. Overall I was actually disappointed in the ribs this year - so many were tough, or weak in flavour. It was clear some ribbers went to a lot of effort in the presentation of their ribs, and others not.

No matter what, it was fun, filling and I can't thank Cecil Hillier and the folks at Family Shows Canada for having me as judge!


1.       Mystery Judge’s Awards – these judges wandered around Ribber Row during the festival and observed the Ribbers in action. They have 2 awards.
Best Ribber Rig Display  is  Kentucky Smokehouse   
2.       Celebrity Judge’s Awards -  the celebrity judges did a magnificent job at selecting the winners of their awards. Their first 2 awards are:
Celebrity Judges 2nd Place, Best Sauce  is  Boss Hoggs     
3.       Celebrity Judge’s 1st Place Best  Sauce  is  Ribs Royale             
4.       The Best Ribber Cooking Showmanship award this year is sponsored by the
Metro London newspaper.  Jim Reyno from Metro London will now present the award. The award includes a picture and article in their newspaper.
The mystery judges decision:
Metro London - Best Ribber Cooking Showmanship  is   Fire Island  
5.       People’s Choice Panel
During the festival. Patrons deposited a ballot to get a chance to represent the people at large. The lucky folks who won the draw became the People’s Choice panel. They got the privilege to taste all 10 delectable ribs and determine the London People’s Choice awards for 2012. Their decisions are:
Peoples Choice 2nd Place Best Ribs in London  is Texas Rangers
                            Judges Rib # 9
6.       People’s Choice Overall Best Ribs in London is  Ribs Royale
                                      Judges Rib # 7                       
7.       These are the big awards from the Celebrity Judge’s ,
Their Choice for 2nd Place Best Ribs in London  is Jack the Ribber
                                                    Judges Rib # 3
8.       Their choice for Overall Best Ribs in London is  Boss Hoggs
                           Judges Rib # 1


Chris said...

Great write up. I noticed the difference in presentation that you mentioned. Little things, like some gave you a standard rib while others gave you a full cut (where it has one bone but goes to the extreme sides trimming right up against the outer bones to give the max meat).

Lord of the Wings said...

@Chris - yes a big difference in size and look. The funny thing is as I walked past the vendors themselves, the ribs all looked great. Not so much with the judging ribs.