Tips and Tricks to win a Rib Throwdown Championship by Pitmaster Harry Soo

Ribs “foiled” with bacon and pork belly


<Harry’s 10 minute YouTube video of the contest plus Tips and Trick on how to WIN!>

I was honored to win the 2017 Mano A Mano Rib Throwdown Championship in November 2017.  The event was a caveman-style event where 28 competing teams were not allowed to use modern conveniences such as electricity and aluminum foil.  In short, it was fire, ribs, and smoke that ruled the day at the Retzlaff Winery in Livermore, California.  This was the fifth year of this event and the proceeds benefited to raise awareness for autism.

Teams showed up around 7 am to begin their cooks and prepare for the one-meat rib turn-in at 2:30 pm.  Since it was a caveman contest, I decided to show up dressed as a caveman pitmaster to the delight of the public and to the chagrin of the other teams.  They were good sports, and I got a good “ribbing” for dressing up.  I told the teams that if I could not beat them, I’d use my plastic femur prop to physically beat them.  Besides, my femur showed that my ribs were “falling of the bone.”

A number of certified judges and local tasters judged the entries on Appearance, Tenderness, and Taste.  A maximum score of 9 points plus associated weighting was assigned to each of the six judges’ scores for the three criteria.

Proudly wearing my awareness pin

Cooking caveman-style without foil poses a big challenge to the teams as it’s difficult to get the ribs to become tender without drying out when cooked unfoiled in the smoker.  I decided to pull a trick out of my hat and “foil” with bacon and pork belly.  See my 10-minute YouTube video to learn my secret tips and tricks on how to win a caveman-style Rib Championship.

Harry’s video of the contest

When the dust settled after judging and awards, I donated my prize money back to the autism charity.  I get to keep the perpetual trophy for a year and will return to defend my title in November 2018.

Harry with prior year Mano A Mano Champions


I’ll have to up my game as I’m sure the teams will watch my video and use my tips and tricks against me. No fear, I’ll have a few more tricks up my caveman sleeve next year.  A big shoutout also goes to the 2017 Reserve Champion Blazin By The Bay BBQ from San Francisco

A final 5 X 5 presentation. No foil or garnish as it’s caveman-style contest