Pitmaster Bob Wilgor of Pappy Bob’s BBQ didn’t bring home the bacon at the 21st Annual Pork Rib-Off at the Ohio State Fair.
A returning contestant, the restaurant challenged nine other grill stars from all over Ohio and showcased its best pork ribs, pulled pork, and sauce.
Food was judged on taste, tenderness, and appearance. In addition to trophies, winners took home cash prizes courtesy of the Ohio Pork Council.
“We turned in some great stuff. Our pork was perfect, it’s what we do every day,” Wilgor said. “We tried, but we’ll go back again next year.”
Four Ohio celebrities were on hand for the blind judging of the day’s food, including news anchor Bob Kendrick, Columbus Dispatch food editor Lisa Abraham, Smokehouse Brewing Company owner Lenny Kolada, and Latitude 41 executive chef Marcus Meacham.
Scores of visitors to the state fair waited for a taste in stretched lines at each of the barbecue booths. Each was able to place a vote, and the entrant with the most tallies won the coveted People’s Choice.
The Ohio Soybean Council partnered with the Ohio Pork Council to give its own award recognizing the best barbecue sauce using soybean oil.
“It’s all in the sauce,” Wilgor said. “The team who normally wins the sauce competition usually wins the whole thing.”
He stands by his recipe for slow wood-smoked barbecue sauce, but may work on the ingredients a bit for next year’s competition.
Where Wilgor had a disadvantage was the lengthy distance from Oberlin to Columbus. He had to take a hot box to keep the food warm, but said he would have preferred to cook it fresh.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.