Island Heights Sailers host First Annual Rib Cook-off!

The Island Heights Sailing Club held its first every rib cook-off on Saturday, September 29th. Aptly named the Ribgatta, the event drew 12 contestants and approximately 100 attendees. The World Championship A Cat Fleet was also on hand just making the setting that much more breath-taking. It was a spectacular day in a spectacular spot.

The first rib expert we met was Ben from Extreme Barbeque in Forked River who quickly informed me that the type of ribs that I cook and love, you know the kind where the meat falls off the bone, would never be competition worthy. He explained that the kind of meat that falls off the bone has been steamed or boiled and lost its entire flavor. This type of rib relies completely on the sauce for flavor. He educated me on what constitutes a competitive rib; the smoky wood flavor, proper texture and bite and on the whole rib cook-off subculture. If you’d like to learn more about rib competitions and find a list of events, go to

Lesley Knox, the event coordinator, introduced us to Mike, Keith, and Matt of “The Ocean County Pig Assassins.”

The OCPA’s had been in a few competitions and won a few ribbons already. Their secret weapon this time around was their homemade pumpkin barbeque sauce which they let me sample. I have to admit, it was outstanding and I’m hoping they might share their recipe with us. These guys were having way too much fun and it really made me want to break out my smoker and start testing recipes for next year. We may just have a Jersey Bites booth, who knows. The Assassins were also telling us about their idea for starting a “Cocktails Club.” Similar to a supper club, each participant takes turns hosting the party. Instead of supper, however, everyone will make one appetizer. Sounds like fun, and since these guys can really cook, I bet there will be some great food too. I’ll work on getting a menu and some recipes from one of their parties.

As it turns out, we picked the right group to interview because “The Ocean County Pig Assassins” won first prize. I hope this event sticks around and grows in number of contestants and attendees.

You can’t beat the scenery. I know I’ll be back next year. For more information on the Ribgatta, go to