A Windsor-based group of barbecue aficionados is firing up the grills for their largest event to date.
The Border City BBQ Masters’ “Rib & Chicken Smokin’ Hoedown Cook-Off” takes place Sunday, July 2nd from 11am to 5pm at The Ciociaro Club of Windsor, where 22 teams will compete for the title of BBQ smoker champ 2023.
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The cook-off is open to all skill levels, although you don’t need to compete to attend. The all-ages event will also feature live performances by Max Marshall, Rob Higgins & HiGGi Country Music, and 519 Aerial, as well as a bbq masters’ market featuring over 15 local vendors. The cost to attend the event is $10 for anyone age 18 and up, with a portion of the proceeds going to Feed the Need Windsor and the Kids First Food Bank.
The competition marks the group’s fourth event and third venue expansion in just over a year and organizers are thrilled with the camaraderie that has formed through both their online platform and in person events.
“The last event we held brought out over 1,200 in the middle of winter,” says organizer Derek Sly ‘The BBQ Guy.’ “The barbecue scene is exploding exponentially in this area and we’re hoping to topple that previous number with this latest competition. We encourage people to come check out the community we’re building.”
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Due to the popularity of the previous competitions, the group had to find a larger venue for their signature summer event.
“We’re thrilled to be working with the team at Ciociaro this time around. Their outdoor space offers plenty of parking, plenty of shade, and a beautiful pavilion that can seat up to 500 people,” says Sly. “The club will also be offering great specials on their rib, chicken, and sausage meals, which they’ll be cooking up on their giant Santa Maria barbecues outside with us.”
Each team in the competition will be comprised of 2-4 people and the chicken and ribs must be prepared over offset, kettle, or pellet smokers. The meat is provided through sponsor Medel Brothers Quality Meats. An entry fee of $150 is required and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams, with the winners being decided by an expert panel of judges, including chefs and food industry professionals from across Essex County.
The competitors will also be thrown a curve ball this time around in the form of a mystery protein.
“We wanted to bring a new element to the competition,” says co-founder of the group Greg Medel. “All they know is to be prepared for anything.”
Border City BBQ Masters was founded by Derek Sly ‘The BBQ Guy’ and Greg Medel in January 2022 to establish a centralized community hub for grillers, smokers, and barbecue enthusiasts in Windsor-Essex. The group now has over 1,600 members and offers tips and advice for all skill levels and all types of grills and barbecues. The group has previously hosted two successful barbecue challenges in 2022 and a chili cook-off in February 2023.