Pitmaster Al Lino (Rio Smoke) drove 1,500 miles from Rio Hondo, TX to compete at this May 23rd contest. Vegas may have been built on a desert, but it did not leave Lino high and dry. Rio Smoke won the Grand Champion and Lino will take home his winnings, including a Golden Ticket to compete at the World Food Championships this Fall
A competitor could eventually make it to THE FINAL TABLE for a shot at the $100,000 prize. The WFC is the global leader in food sport (To learn more about WFC, please check out their website)
Celebrity Pitmaster, Sterling Smith (Loot N booty BBQ) advanced to The Final Table this year. That was quite an achievement. Smith also competed at the Vegas contest and landed 3rd Overall. Congratulations, Sterling Smith, on both accomplishments.
A passion for cooking began over 30 years ago for Nieto. When he joined the military, he travelled the world learning a variety of cuisines from different chefs. Unfortunately, later on he developed PTSD.
The Nevada BBQ Association quotes Nieto on their website, "PTSD got the best of me for a while, sleeping on the street, depression and such, but I got my mojo back, cooking for the base and being a part of Nevada Barbecue and competing," he said. "God is good to me."
Sounds like his wife, Veronica, is also good to him. The restaurant website quotes Nieto, "With my wife Veronica by my side, we bring a dream team of some of the best BBQ and all cuisine this side of the country."
Thank you for your service, Stephen Nieto, and congrats on your Reserve Grand Champion. May your business continue to be blessed with success. No matter what, you are a true champion of life itself
1) FREE BBQ WINGS (for first 200 attendees).
2) FREE Kurvball Original BBQ Whiskey Samples and swag.
3) Chance to win a FREE Gateway Drum Smoker.
4) Meet Famous Dave Anderson (only at select dates)
5) You can also grab more food right there at Famous Dave's!
Rio Smoke took 1st Place in all categories: CHICKEN, RIBS, and WILDCARD.
That WILDCARD category really has me intrigued as a KCBS Master BBQ judge. I just became a certified WFC "Licensed to E.A.T." Judge this year and will be judging the Sioux City, IA contest this July 22nd. It will be my first WFC sanctioned event, so it will be refreshing to experience something new. I will reflect my thoughts on the WFC judging process in a future column..
In a recent interview with BBQ CRITIC, Al Lino discussed his WILDCARD entry, "We were very excited for the WILDCARD. It really gave us the opportunity to express ourselves and show our capabilities. We prepared a frenched rack of lamb for the judges."
The WILDCARD is anything the team wants to cook and is presented to the judges on a Silver Platter while the cook verbally describes what they created and what to expect. "I had contemplated back and forth for weeks on what to say," said Lino. "I knew I had to be true and keep the judges intrigued; I did just that."
I'm thinking this Silver Platter presentation (and the cook's pitch to the judges) would make a BBQ judge feel like royalty, along with a great sense of responsibility to be as focused and fair as possible, That's the way every judge should operate at a contest, regardless of the sanctioning body. I believe they do.
LINO'S "WILDCARD" PITCH TO THE JUDGES
Famous Dave's All-Star BBQ Series is off to a good start!
I would really appreciate readers sharing my reviews on your social media accounts and help spread the word about this new competition series. This is a really cool concept for Famous Dave's of America, and having the World Food Championships as the sanctioning body for this series is icing on the cake!
We encourage you to attend an event near you and take part in the fun activates. CLICK HERE for a list of locations and dates.