Well, it’s finally happened, I had a chance to compete in Big Easy’s 4th of July Annual Rib Competition!
I’ve been wanting to take part in this competition for a long time, mostly because I’m a sucker for ribs, but also because the prize is a voucher for Big Easy, and I’m quite fond of the place (I neither confirm nor deny it is due to their all you can eat offers Monday through Wednesday).
Back to the competition. The rules are simple:
Eat as many ribs as you possibly can in 30 minutes. The winner is the one with the most clean bones at the end. Emphasis on clean, as with many competitions lately, they don’t mess around. Wasteful eaters will be penalised.
First prize is a £100 Big Easy voucher and being entered into a raffle to win VIP tickets to Jack Daniel’s presents (assuming I haven’t heard since, I guess I didn’t win the raffle)
The food. Well… It’s ribs. These were your classic BBQ baby back ribs. All shapes and sizes. As the rules were not weight based, but dependent on clean bones I developed a strategy beforehand. I would focus on the pieces where I could get the bone out easily to have no debris in my way. It’s not easy to describe the approach… but essentially, I would try grab the bone and peel off the meat. In theory, if they’re hot and ‘fall off the bone’ it should be quick and easy.
It didn’t take long for the mountains of ribs to arrive. A few rounds of introductions, some fighting words from the organisers, and we were off.
The start was great, loading up on succulent ribs. The outside world quickly faded away, replaced by my new reality for the next 30 minutes of carnivorous heaven. Bite after bite, I blissfully chomped on. Over time, the satiety started to creep in. The chewing increased, the pace slowed, the flavour blended into one. “Five minutes gone” I hear. “How…” I thought to myself. What seemed an eternity was a mere five minutes.
My approach unfortunately backfired, since I realised part way in, that the ribs with smaller bones just ended up having a higher meat to size ratio. They were if anything, harder to get down for me than the big bone ribs I could grab and eat like a caveman.
Time went on, the ribs were getting colder, my satiety was increasing, and the thought of more meat was not a pleasant one. The meat begun to fall off the bone as reluctantly as I was to keep eating, but I had to push on. Bite by bite, I chewed on at a snail’s pace, my jaw fatigued. As the final minute approached, a final push. It felt like the inside of my body was competing for space between rib and oxygen as I saw away the last rib. Then, it was finally over, the moment of truth approached. The final results to be counted.
Funnily enough, my body was indeed competing for space between ribs and air. Stepping back from the table helped re-jiggle the jigsaw inside me, like Tetris things fell into place (some air was expelled) and I felt I had space inside me again. A little too late, but a welcome respite.
The results were tense, the host building suspence. I think they had an idea of who was in the running for first. My plan doubly back-fired when the smaller bones were counted as half of a rib. Overall, last year’s winner came in with an astounding 13, I clocked in at…14. This was a close one.
Overall, other than ending up in a meat coma, this was a great experience. From the hype of the presenters to the competitiveness and banter of the other participants. Another one off the bucket-list…
This is an annual competition, so sign up to the Big Easy mailing list if you want to know when sign-ups open next. Act fast as spaces fill up quickly. Otherwise, if you just fancy taking a visit (or doing a personal challenge with their all you can eat offers), they have 3 sites across the city.