Read about the 18 Pit Masters competing in the 9th Annual Hartford Rib Off and Hartford Rib Off Beer Fest
Titans Of BBQ
The members of Titans of BBQ became friends through their daughters’ love of fast pitch softball where the girls play together for the CT Titans softball club. Our pit masters quickly discovered a shared passion for BBQ which turned into showcases of great BBQ at team functions. Fast forward three years and BBQ team leaders Brian Oatway, Sam Johnson and Jason Breault are excited to make the 2018 Hartford Rib Off our first competition. We look forward to a great time and making new friends. Keep your eyes out for our softball girls volunteering at the event!
Charter Smoke Barbecue
Although the name Charter Smoke may have officially appeared in 2012, we’ve been cooking competition BBQ, winning the big checks and breaking hearts since 2009.
It all started back in that magical year of 2004 when our founding member and team Captain, J Ball, graduated from a prestigious culinary university and stumbled upon the two loves of his life: his wife and the delicate art of brisket. It was at this time that he decided to dedicate his life to that seductive mistress we call barbecue.
Our four man team consisting of John Ball, Dan Burgos and the brothers Hurlburt (Tyler and Jesse), have a combined total of nearly 20 years of BBQing experience. Every year we take-on more and more contests, go head-to-head with better and better barbeque cooking teams and refine our skills with each and every showing. We’ve found there is nothing better in life than getting together on a weekend, cooking some great BBQ and enjoying some good beer.
Mayor Mike’s Pit Crue
The Mayor Mike’s Foundation for Kids, an organization created in honor of Hartford’s late, great Mayor Mike Peters, has made its mission to serve underprivileged children in Hartford through financial support of educational and recreational programs. The group’s motto is “Go Hartford!,” evoking the enduring spirit of one of Connecticut’s most dedicated and popular politicians. Since the beloved mayor’s passing in 2008, the foundation has donated more than $170,000 to support local Little Leaguers and hoopsters get registered and outfitted for programs they would otherwise be unable to afford. The foundation holds an annual pasta dinner, a golf tournament and a spring Brews & BBQ party at the Hartford Elks Lodge, featuring food by Mayor Mike’s BB Crüe. Launched by Mayor Peters’ son, Christopher, along with daughter Michelle, nephews Timothy and Paul and niece Bethany, the foundation, and the “Go Hartford!” motto embrace the idea that Hartford is, and will continue to be, a thriving city in the 21st century.
Big Poppa Pat’s Kickin Bar-B-Q
2017 Winner, People’s Choice
Big Poppa Pat’s team is dedicated to creating a total experience for the crowd with excellent smoky flavors and lots of fun. With a good ole boy attitude and a southern heart we love to cook and please our fans’ palates leaving them always wanting more. Our enthusiastic team with big hearts consists of our Big Poppa Pat aka Patrick Hart Jr, Michael Hart, Lisa Standing, Scott Sullivan, Justin Dixon and Morgan Kennerson
Team Pig Bark
What started as a fun backyard competition between friends, Hartford Riboff founder Guy Neumann and co-founder Jonathan Sablon, quickly morphed into a highly successful annual charity event. In 2009, chef and team captain Jonathan Sablon formed Team Pig Bark based out of Canton, CT. Jonathan hand-picked a team of friends that shared his love and passion for BBQ, experimenting with various cooking techniques, great beer, fun, family, and philanthropy. They’ve not looked back since! This talented team, which also includes members Paul Frazer, Mike Frazer, Paul Gallant and Bill Wendent, built a one-of-a-kind, custom smoker from a repurposed 275 gallon oil tank. Boasting a 55 gallon offset smokebox made with a wood stove conversion kit, this beauty uses only 100% natural wood- no propane or electric here! If you’ve been to the last several Rib Offs you’ve seen this magnificent beast. After several years of test runs and experimenting with techniques to perfect the cooking system, not to mention Jonathan’s mouth-watering dry rubs and sauces, the flavors that come out of this will make you cry tears of joy. Team Pig Bark is proud to participate in this fun event that supports some very worthy charities.
Wile E BBQ
Wile E. BBQ Pitmaster, Kevin Cofiell, first started smoking meats when he received a smoker as a house warming present in 2013 from his parents. His casual backyard hobby quickly grew as friends and family tried his foods. Kevin experimented with additional meats, appetizers and even side dishes. Wile E. BBQ entered its first BBQ competition, the Hartford Rib Off, in June 2016 and came in 3rd out of 11 teams. Kevin realized that his hobby had the potential to be something much greater. In December 2016, Kevin started Wile E. LLC with the hopes to ultimately make a living from his BBQ. In the few short months in business and very limited advertising, he has already secured several paying events. His dreams of life as a full-time BBQ Pitmaster are on their way.
The Grill Sergeants are a team of veterans and friends that love cooking, partying, and hanging out with friends having fun. We’re really excited to be a part of this wonderful event and look forward to competing again.
Brined With Fire BBQ
Brined With Fire BBQ (pitmaster Steve Dubowsky) started in 2013 with my first home made trailer cooker. I don’t own a restaurant, this is all done from my passion of cooking bbq. I started smoking meat back in the late 90’s with lots of help from my friend Jerry with a $40 charcoal smoker cooking turkeys for people on thanksgiving. I now cook on a Meadow Creek TS250 tank smoker with a reverse flow design. You won’t find and propane or pellets on any of my cookers, it’s all about the wood fire and natural smoke with true North Carolina style bbq. My friend Devon, cousin Jason, and sister Jill all help me out for parties and competitions. I couldn’t do it without them. Looking forward to return to the Hartford Rib Off once again for a great cause.
Little Mark’s Big BBQ
2017 Winner, Best Brisket
The team for Little Mark’s Big BBQ is led by George Giotsas. George has been smoking and cooking BBQ since 1990 when Little Mark’s Big BBQ opened their doors. Little Mark’s Big BBQ is the oldest running BBQ restaurant in Connecticut and has won many awards for their fare. George has traveled the country sampling some of the country’s best BBQ to perfect his art. With the ever-changing landscape of the restaurant business and economy, George has found a way to stay consistent and keep his food quality up and at a high level. He brings along his staff who have been loyal and with him for a long time. All his sauces and rubs are made in house and fresh. This is the reason why Little Mark’s Big BBQ still makes “Mouth Waterin’ Butt Kickin’ BBQ”
Justin’ Time for Nick Jones BBQ
2017 Winner, Best Chicken
2016 Rib Off Winner
Nick Jones BBQ started with a $50 smoker, and a desire to have true BBQ. After years of entertaining friends, honing their signature style, Aaron, Nick and Justin decided to enter the Rib Off in 2015 and Justin’ Time for Nick Jones BBQ was born. In just two short years, they went from placing 3rd in 2015 as rookies, to taking the 1st place trophy in 2016. Nick Jones BBQ doesn’t take itself too seriously while making world class BBQ, and brings their brand of fun to the competition.
Dog Star BBQ
2015 Rib Off Winner
Dog Star Rescue BBQ is back for the 2018 Hartford Rib Off! Proud to have been a part of the Rib Off since 2011 (then known as Maple Leaf BBQ), the cook team led by Pitmaster Eric Michaud, Dan McCabe, Angelo Casagrande and Lou Zarchen share not only a passion for mouth-watering BBQ, but for rescuing dogs and finding each of them life-long homes. This unbeatable combination of BBQ know-how and pure heart has earned them the 2015 Grand Championship at the Hartford Rib off, along with a sponsorship to the New England BBQ Championship! This year the team is proud to welcome new team member, Mike Murak!
Pits and Giggles
Pits and Giggles was named in 2014, but started smoking in 1989 at a pig roast with a home made BBQ Pit. Taught by NC Pit Master Pig Parker, Duke Bryer and his wife Roni moved from CT to Maryland, catering parties and competing in KCBS Contests. They bring their Maryland style of BBQ up and down the East Coast. Pits and Giggles lives by three things: Amp up the Flavor, Keep it Simple, and Have FUN!
Pit Crew BBQ
PitCrew BBQ is a BBQ catering company that has been in existence since 1994. We started out as a competition BBQ team in the Houston Texas area, we cooked on the Houston metro circuit for 10 years doing over 26 competitions per year. We have cooked in other competitions all over the country.
Twinning BBQ was started in 2017 by myself (Andrew Marcelliano) and my twin brother, Pete, hence the name Twinning BBQ! We have cooked at home for years, but, in 2017 we decided to test what we had and decided to compete in 4 competitions. Our first competition we finished middle of the pack and boy did we learn a lot. However, cooking in KCBS events we were not discouraged and placed decently throughout most of the season. In our final competition we finished first place chicken and reserve grand champion! We were pumped. It’s amazing what you can learn in a year when you really put some time into your cooks. We were also blown away at how competitive BBQ is compared to good ol’ backyard cooking for friends and family. We cook on very simple equipment and love our Green Mountain Grills and Pit Barrel Cookers. Our goal for this year is to update our equipment and pick up a Meadow Creek BX50 or Backwoods Competitor. So, even though we are very new to competitive BBQ game, we are no strangers to cooking BBQ. Just throughout the past year, we have enjoyed learning and creating our own brand and hope to one day make a career out of cooking delicious smoked meats for all.
Holland Family Tennessee Smoke
“you ain’t had hog, til you had Tennessee hog”
The Holland Family Tennessee Smoke is just as the name says, “family”. Inspired by the Holland sisters of east Tennessee, our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and their Smoky Mountains BBQ recipes. Every May the Holland clan gather in the Great Smoky Mountains recreating the great tastes passed down for generations and now we bring the unique flavor and taste of the Smoky Mountains to the Hartford Rib-Off. You may have heard the mountains get their name from the Cherokee Indians, who called them “shaconage”, meaning, “place of the blue smoke”. Actually the smoke was from the Holland clan doing up chicken, ribs, pork butts and beef briskets. The team is led by Michael Johnson-son/nephew and wife Doreen. Team members include Michelle Johnson-granddaughter/great niece, Ben Hite-grandson/great nephew, Linda Wise-niece, Mike Rock-brother from another mountain clan and Sam Hilliman-son/nephew. Get ready Hartford, there is going to be a new BBQ sheriff in town.