Ten of the best rib chefs in the UK met at a former builder’s merchant yard on the Kingsland Road between Shoreditch and Dalston to battle for the title of ‘Great British Rib Champion 2013’. It was here they glazed, rubbed and toiled over oil drum barbecues for the meat-hungry and ultimately a panel of judges who blind-tested their efforts in two categories ‘Best Ribs’ and ‘Best Hot Sauce’
The first #Ribstock took place in Soho in 2012, devised by The Rib Man and run by Tweat Up, the company who put on fantastic food events, bringing food lovers together with social media. Within minutes of the event being announced on Twitter, 600 tickets had sold.
I was here to meet The Rib Man who invited me along to see how he made his famous rolls and give them a try after I met him recently. The Blue Boar Smokehouse in the Intercontinental Hotel in Westminster is a restaurant I am keen to visit and ribs feature as one of their signature dishes. They’re trying their hand at competition rib cooking too. With tickets to Taste London in the afternoon and the prospect of getting food fatigue far too early, I tried just two of the ribs on offer.
If you’ve not been to Ribstock before it’s pretty straightforward. You buy a ticket in advance and on the day, trade it in for a card which is stamped each time you sample food from the rib purveyors. This year the ticket cost £50, which entitled the holder to 10 servings of ribs, two craft beers and a cocktail from the guys at Rotary. When you’ve sampled all the ribs you’re encouraged to vote for your favourite rib and the votes counted at the end of the day. Judges are also brought on board to cast their culinary vote.
Fullers Brewery were here with their New World hopped lager ‘Frontier’.
Real Food Market regular Ice Kitchen brought dessert in their handmade ice lollies, here’s Chef and joint founder Cesar Roden.
This year the line up included:
BBQWhisky Beer (40-42 Brendon St)
Can be found at the Wargrave Arms pub in Marylebone a Young’s pub and temporary home where they conjure up pulled pork buns, fried chicken burgers, and ribs. The Jacob is a 3-day smoked ladder beef rib, slathered with spicy chimichurri sauce and grilled.
They cooked mesquite-smoked black Angus beef rib with Texas rub & BBQWhiskyBeer sauce on a low heat for a long time.
Blue Boar Smokehouse (37-45 Tothill St)
Is the smoking sanctuary of Jon Ingram, Executive Chef at the Intercontinental Hotel in Westminster it’s here they use salt, glazes and rubs and smoke meat and fish over coal and wood. Blue Boar’s signature dishes include Baby Back Ribs and Treacle Marinated 12-hour Roasted Beef Brisket.
They prepared chunky and juicy baby backs with a fiery Blue Boar dry rub. Slowly smoked then slathered in a zingy barbecue marinade. The rib was juicy and had a fair bit of meat on it felt bad for eating the inch thick tasty fat but the taste was just too good.
They served their ribs with a palate cleansing gin granita. One wasn’t enough so I had two.
And here’s chef Jon Ingram.
Carl Clarke/Rotary (70 City Road)
Carl Clarke is working out a 10-month residency at Rotary Bar and Diner on City Road where the focus is on Carl’s passions for British produce and street food. There’s a wood grill menu boasting day-boat fish, Tamworth pork and bone-in beef sirloin.
On the day they cooked up smoked Oxford Sandy belly ribs, seaweed & sesame crunch, ‘next level slaw’, chilli peanut praline.
A chain group with three restaurants in London, one in Windsor and one in Leeds. Burgers and chips, steak and salads, along with their prime baby back loin ribs which are boiled for tenderness in their own marinade and chargrilled and finished with rib sauce.
They were serving up their thick cut baby backs slow-cooked and fast-finished with Cattle Grid sauce.
Nanban/Tim Anderson (Shoreditch High Street)
He’s the American chef who found fame here in the UK when he won MasterChef in 2011 and Nanban is his first restaurant which focuses as the name would suggest, on Southern Japanese food. It means ‘southern barbarian’, coined to described European settlers, and the cooking is all about ‘dirty’ flavours, with lots of pork and noodles.
Tim prepared spare ribs rubbed with brown sugar, sansho, & shichimi mopped with soy sauce, rice vinegar, pickled ginger, awamori, & katsu sauce.
Neil Rankin (31 Upper Street)
Formerly head chef at Pitt Cue Co, he’s the barbecue maven at John Salt in Islington who favours the Big Green Egg method of cooking. Where the dirty meets the dainty he loves mixing up meaty-smoke house with elegant twists.
Neil served up a Texas/Korean mash-up BBQ. Chicken fried pork spare ribs with Korean buffalo sauce and ginger & lime mayo.
Prairie Fire BBQ
London’s only traditional slow-smoked Kansas City BBQ food truck.
From them diners enjoyed apple & hickory wood smoked pork belly rib, fire kissed in a Kansas City sweet ‘n’ smoky sauce.
Red Dog Saloon (37 Hoxton Square)
Serving up authentic American authentic barbecue foods like blackened salmon, ribs, chicken, pork, burgers and burnt end sandwiches.
They cooked St Louis pork ribs with a special dry rub, smoked low and slow over hickory wood and glazed with house made Kansas City BBQ sauce.
Roti Chai Street Kitchen (3 Portman Mews South)
Indian Buns, kebabs and rustic roadside and railway station dishes. They’ve also a formal downstairs restaurant too.
From them it was ‘Plantation Pigs’ British belly ribs, tandoor-smoked and slow-cooked, with pineapple & red Naga ‘ghost pepper’ chilli marinade.
The Rib Man
Mark Gevaux is The Rib Man and he travels around London markets serving up his baby back ribs where the customer can buy full, half or rib meat rolls and wraps. Mark also makes his own sauces, including the now famous Holy F**k.
He hand rolled his tortillas on site, which were filled with slow-cooked baby back rib meat, finely sliced apple, with a Balsamic vinegar and Holy F**k sauce mix. It was essential to have the HF sauce, mixed with a little of the rich Balsamic vinegar which cut straight through the heat of the sauce and complemented the meat perfectly.
Gizzi Erskine, Angela Hartnett and Jonathan Downey, founding father of Tweat Up and a London street food scene entrepreneur, gave the crown of 'Great British Rib Champion 2013' to BBQWhisky Beer who took home £3,000 in prize money. Ribstock 2013 'Hot Sauce Champion' is Mark Gevaux and his Holy F**k Sauce which was blind tasted with 10 others by over 600 voters.
Congratulations to the winners.
Look out for Truck Stop 20 of the UK’s best food trucks assemble at Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf on July 4th and 5th.