Area grillers to compete in fourth annual rib cook-off

Photo provided
Pictured left to right are: Al Kichler, Andrew Frenette (3rd Place), Paul Kruger (1st Place), Blow N Smoke (2nd Place) and Ridgewood Bay Resort owner Greg Sackett, at the 2015 Golden Tongs rib cook-off.

Fierce but friendly competition will be on the grill at Ridgewood Bay Resort on Saturday, July 15, for the fourth annual Golden Tongs rib cook-off.
The contest was originally the brainchild of Allen Kichler, a friend of Ridgewood Bay’s owners and a former employee who also directs Ridgewood Bay’s annual ice fishing tournament. Kichler was inspired to try to test some of the culinary claims he hears from local barbecue enthusiasts.
“Basically it was just everybody talking about how good of a backyard cook they were,” Kichler said.
Kichler will be cooking a 200-pound pig as well as competing in the cook-off himself. Non-contestants can get all-you-can-eat ribs and pork roast with sides for $17.99 at Ridgewood the day of the cook-off, but Kichler said the ribs tend to go pretty fast.
Kichler will be roasting the pig on a cooker he’s been using for more than two decades.
“I cooked my first rack of ribs and first pig on that in 1993,” he said.
Two of Kichler’s highest priorities for his own ribs are the speed and temperature they cook at, as well as the balance of flavoring elements.
“Low and slow,” he said, “and then secondly would be your seasoning or your spices. … You don’t want it to be too spicy, but you want it to leave an impression.”
Kichler is not personally a dry rub or sauce purist.
“I like to do a dry rub and very, very light sauce,” he said.
The Golden Tongs cook-off is also a good place for those interested in grilling to pick up some tips and tricks from the area’s experienced grillers.
“You can actually ask the cooks, what kind of wood are you using, what kind of rub,” Kichler said.
Contestants will compete on ribs provided by Ridgewood Bay, and they will not be allowed to cook ribs ahead of time or off of Ridgewood Bay property.
“They’ll pick up their ribs, they’ll go out and they’ll cook,” Kichler said.
The finished ribs will be turned in for judging at 3 p.m. Prizes will be paid out to the top four rib teams.
For the contest there will also be a mystery category that will require contestants to grill one item they won’t know about beforehand.
“It could be chicken, it could be eggs, it could be Spam,” Kichler said.
Grilling the mystery category item is optional for competitors, but for those who try, doing so will add points to their total score for the day.
The mystery item will be determined the morning of the cook-off, although Kichler said they already have it narrowed down to a couple of options.
Word has been traveling about the Golden Tongs cook-off, which is in its fourth year. There were eight teams registered for this year’s contest at the time of writing. Kichler mentioned that two of the teams were traveling from Wisconsin to compete.
“It’s been put on some websites and Facebook pages,” Kichler said.
For more information on the Golden Tongs rib cook-off, call 763-370-6040, or search for Ridgewood Bay Resort on Facebook.