The Hartford Rib Off


BACK in 2021

Tickets On Sale NOW

old- Competition

Congratulations to the winners of the Hartford Rib Off NEBS and KCBS Contests!
NEBS Grand Champions – Big Betty BBQ
NEBS Reserve Champions – Charter Smoke BBQ

KCBS Grand Champions – Paddy McQ
KCBS Reserve Champions – Big Raz BBQ

Welcome to the Hartford Rib Off, a two-day charity event, including NEBS and KCBS sanctioned
BBQ contests in the state of Connecticut in 2019.
Friday is a NEBS Tailgate Contest, being held at the Hartford Rib Off Kick Off Party, June 14, 2019.
Saturday is a KCBS Master Series Contest, being held at the 10th Annual Hartford Rib Off Main Event, June 15, 2019.
Cook teams have the option of competing in either just the KCBS contest or both the KCBS and NEBS contests.

  • The Hartford Rib Off will follow NEBS rules for Friday and KCBS rules for Saturday.
  • There will be 2 KBCS Representatives at the Hartford Rib Off. They will be available to answer questions and will also be making certain that everyone – organizers, cook teams, and judges – follows the KCBS and NEBS rules.
  • Friday night is an NEBS Tailgate Contest with 2 judged proteins (chicken wings, steak) and 1 people’s choice selection (chicken wings). Participation in the people’s choice contest is voluntary. The prize for the people’s choice winner is $350.
  • Saturday is a KCBS Master Series Contest with 4 judged proteins (ribs, chicken, brisket, and pork) and 1 people’s choice selection (pulled pork). Participation in the people’s choice contest is voluntary. The prize for the people’s choice winner is $500.
  • Pit Masters/Cook Teams are responsible for supplying the proteins they will be judged on. Details about the permitted meats are located in the Cook Team packet and the KCBS rules. The event will provide the protein for the people’s choice contest.
  • Your competition meat will be inspected prior to any preparation for entry into the contest. The inspection will be performed by the KCBS Reps. Meat inspection guidelines can be reviewed here.
  • The grand prize is a cash purse – Friday night $700 for the Grand Champion of the Tailgate and Saturday $1,250 for the Grand Champion of the Hartford Rib Off (with additional cash prizes). Most winners, regardless of place, will also receive a trophy.
  • The KCBS reps will hold a cooks meeting at the venue.
  • Each standard team space will be 20′ x 30′ and will be marked, abutting one another. You may request a larger space, either 20′ x 40′ or 20′ x 50′, for an additional cost. These costs are detailed on the Cook Team Application.
  • We will send out our Cook Team information packet via email, as well as being available here. All detailed rules and regulations will be included, as well as general contest and event information.
  • Every cook team must complete a temporary food vendor permit for the City of Hartford. This will be emailed to you, but you can also access it here: Temporary Food Vendor Application
  • Cook teams will be permitted to vend on Friday at the Hartford Rib Off Kick Off Party. Teams will not be permitted to vend food on Saturday at the Hartford Rib Off, but may sell non-perishable items and merchandise if desired. **Additional vending rules apply.

Fill out your application to compete in the Hartford Rib Off here.

Check out who’s competing in The Hartford Rib Off in 2019!


Titans Of BBQ
2019 – 4th Place Wings
2019 – 5th Place Ribs
2018 – People’s Choice Winner BBQ Sauce
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!
Wile E new logo
Wile E BBQ
2019 – 3rd Place Steak
2019 – 4th Place Ribs
2019 – 5th Place Pork
2018 – KCBS 5th Place Overall
2018 – People’s Choice Pulled Pork

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.

Hog Tied new
Hog Tied Barbecue

2019 – Winner People’s Choice Wings
2019 – Winner People’s Choice Pulled Pork
2019 – 3rd Place Wings
2018 – Rib Off 4th Place Overall
2018 – 2nd Place Pork
2018 – 3rd Place Ribs
2017 – Rib Off Grand Champion
2017 – Best Ribs
2016 – Best Ribs
2015 – Best Chicken
2014 – Best Brisket

Hog Tied BBQ started as a name for a custom BBQ trailer  built in 2003 for Pitmaster Frank Balsamo’s 30th Birthday. It was from there on that the name stuck with him and BBQ was in his blood. As the years went on he honed in on his craft and he became involved in the Hartford Rib Off. With the help of his teammates Mike, Steve, Richie and Timmy by his side they are a force to be reckoned with year after year placing very well. All this while have a great time at what they do and benefiting the community. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram at Hog Tied BBQ .

Big Animal Barbeque

Big Animal BBQ is a large group of friends that started going on annual sports and BBQ pilgrimages to Austin, Nashville, and Charleston, and from there grew an obsession with building their own pit and cooking traditional offset Texas BBQ.

Holland Family Tennessee Smoke
“you ain’t had hog, til you had Tennessee hog”

The Holland Family Tennessee Smoke from Broad Brook CT is just as the name says, “family”. Inspired by the Holland sisters of east Tennessee – our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts – and their Smoky Mountains BBQ/Smoking recipes. Every year the Holland cousins gather in Gatlinburg in the Great Smokys recreating the great tastes passed down for generations, and now we bring these unique tastes and flavors to the Hartford Rib Off. You may have heard that 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 BBQ. That same smoke now lingers over Broad Brook. Last year we were “newbees” to the competition and our ribs and chicken both had respectable 5th place finishes. With that and a year of prep, we know that we will be serious contenders this year. The team is led by pitmaster Michael Johnson, Doreen Johnson, Michelle Johnson, Heidi Januszewski, and Linda Wise, all of the Broad Brook clan, and Linda Amos, Dennis Moyer of the Pocono Mountains clan.

Team Pig Bark

2018 3rd Place Grill Off Overall

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.

Big Betty BBQ

2019 – NEBS Grand Champion
2019 – 2nd Place Wings

Big Betty BBQ is a family run team. We’ve enjoyed cooking for friends and family for the past 25 years in our backyard, including hosting multiple large parties/events and participating in several Blue’s Festivals. We use traditional low-slow cooking with all hard wood and cook with a cross draft 250 and reverse flow 500, which was custom built in our home garage. We are excited to be participating in the Hartford Rib Off, as this is our first competition.
T-Bone BBQ

2019 – 4th Place Chicken

T-Bone BBQ is a Massachusetts based BBQ team made up of a husband and wife duo. Kathy the organizational GURU of T-Bone BBQ. From start to finish Kathy orchestrates the prep to finishing touches to all their turn-ins. Kathy has been featured for her media work in Huffington Post, NBC, NECN, and many local affiliate markets. Kathy likes to compete in BBQ competitions that give back. Her favorite events support Fire Departments, Veterans Organizations, and Non-Profits that support children in need. With her husband Tom by her side, they compete as T-Bone BBQ. Tom is a managing software developer. He spends his free time cleaning the pits, middle of the night BBQ wake ups and being Kathy’s second set of eyes. Tom also is always on the lookout for American Made BBQ accessories and rubs for Kathy to review. Tom enjoys having the time to BBQ to relax from his crazy day time schedule. He fuels American Made Smokers and fills it with endless flavorful recipes and tasty tidbits about BBQ.

Charter Smoke Barbecue

2019 – NEBS Reserve Champion
2019 – 1st Place Wings (Maximum Score)

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.

Dog Star BBQ

2019 – NEBS 5th Place Overall
2018 – KCBS Grand Champion
2018 – 1st Place Chicken
2018 – 2nd Place Ribs
2018 – 2nd Place Brisket
2015 – Rib Off Grand Champion

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!

Mayor Mike’s Pit Crue

2018 4th Place Grill Off Overall
2018 3rd Place Steak

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.

Twinning BBQ

2019 – NEBS 4th Place Overall
2019 – 2nd Place Steak
2019 – 5th Place Chicken
2019 – 3rd Place Brisket
2018 – Grill Off Grand Champion
2018 – KCBS 3rd Place Overall
2018 – 1st Place Steak
2018 – 1st Place Ribs
2018 – 1st Place Brisket
2018 – 3rd Place Chicken

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.
Kane’s Big Smokin BBQ

Three guys from Hebron got together a few years ago to get serious about BBQ. Jim, Ev and Tim make up the cooking team with a lot of help from family and friends. Excited for our first Hartford Rib Off.

Grill Sergeants

2018 – 3rd Place Pork
2018 – 2nd Place Shrimp

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.
Little Mark’s BBQ Gangstas

2019 – 5th Place Steak
2018 – Grill Off Reserve Champion
2018 – 2nd Place Steak
2017 – 1st Place Brisket

Little Marks’ Big BBQ opened its doors in 1990. A family owned restaurant with a big city vibe, its owner Chef George Giotsas has been serving award winning, competition quality BBQ, with a backyard feel ever since. He has been 100% dedicated to the craft of BBQ and has traveled the country to come up with some of the best BBQ recipes and techniques to set his food apart from everyone else’s. This dedication to delivering the best BBQ around has lead to many awards which include; Best BBQ Hartford, CT, and Connecticut Magazine Best BBQ for several years in a row. Winning these accolades has earned Little Marks and Chef George notoriety and he has been featured on many local cooking shows and in numerous publications. Little Marks BBQ pit crew, combined, has over 30 years of BBQ expertise. This crew is comprised of Chef George’s son, Niko, Chef Rob Lata, Chef Jimmy Kehoe, Scott Totten and Danny Letourneau. Together, they have won many competitions, including The Best Food 4B Festival, Best Food Taste of Enfield, New York International Restaurant Show Rapid Fire Challenge Best Meatballs. Check out Chef on his winning Food Network’s Cook vs Cons season 4 episode 9.
Big Enzo’s BBQ


Backdraft Bar-B-Q CT

Backdraft Bar-B-Q is a Pro Competition BBQ team based in Stamford, CT. We started in 2015 grew out of a love of BBQ. We’ve competed in 46 Professional competitions from Maine to Arkansas and achieved 42 top ten category calls. Antonio Olive Jr. is a full time Fire Marshal and the Pitmaster of this team. We also enjoy vending, catering and teaching BBQ. This past December we participated in an event where a group of talented chefs Lead by Chef Plum, cooked for 725 of the US Navy and their families for the holidays at the Sub Base in Groton, CT. Antonio is also the Connecticut State Lead for Operation BBQ Relief, a nonprofit organization that provides meals during disaster recovery efforts throughout the country..

Sticks & Stones BBQ
The Sticks & Stones BBQ Team was created by Scott MacDonald in 2018. A lifelong BBQ enthusiast, Scott started in the competition arena as a member and student of local BBQ royalty Steven Stark of Burnt Offerings BBQ Co. While still fully committed to his position with Burnt Offerings, Scott decided to create his own “offering” to the local BBQ scene as a secondary project in order to compete locally when scheduling permits. Scott and his team are excited and honored to be competing along side some of Connecticut’s most regarded BBQ’er’s at the 2019 Hartford Rib Off and look forward to meeting any and all who stop by the tent!

Heavenly Smoke BBQ
It all started with appeasing my wife, she’s from Texas. She always complained she couldn’t get a good smoked brisket up here in New England. So I set out to the backyard and built a smoker, and started my quest to make the best brisket this side of the Mason Dixon line. There were many ups and downs to this, but finally came up with a winner. One thing lead to another and my friends and family started having me barbecue for them. These events propelled me to launch a business and have a mobile smoker catering trailer made. Heavenly Smoke BBQ was founded by Jeff Matthews January of 2019. Heavenly Smoke BBQ is a five man team, of friends that enjoy barbecue. We’re based out of Bristol, CT and are new to the competition BBQ scene.


2019 – NEBS 3rd Place Overall
2019 – 1st Place Steak

HokiePokieQ also has a Kids-Q arm with HokiePokieQ NextGen. We have focused on NEBS BBQ/Grilling competitions earning 2nd and 1st place in Ken Dakai+Tailgate / KidsQ TOY respectively in 2018. We have recently been extending our presence also in KCBS events and hope for future good results.

Fire at the End of the Day

2019 – KCBS 3rd Place Overall
2019 – 3rd Place Chicken
2019 – 1st Place Pork
2019 – 2nd Place Brisket


Fatboyz BBQ

Rock Smoke BBQ
Mike Maurice and Carmine Nogara have been cooking barbeque together for over twenty years. As members of the Glen Rock Volunteer Fire Department in Bergen County, New Jersey, Mike and Carmine have hosted many events and cookouts. These events include a July 4th picnic that has attracted more than 150 guests. Over the years, Pitmasters Mike and Carmine have tweaked their rubs, injections, and sauces to create a savory flavor profile for their barbeque. Paying close attention to every detail and continuously trying to improve with each cook has been the winning philosophy of the Rock Smoke BBQ team.

Rhode Hog BBQ

2019 – 3rd Place Pork
2019 – 4th Place Brisket


Big Raz BBQ

2019 – KCBS Reserve Champion
2019 – 2nd Place Chicken
2019 – 3rd Place Ribs
2019 – 4th Place Pork
2019 – 1st Place Brisket


Grand Smoke Railroad

2019 – 4th Place Steak
2019 – 2nd Place Ribs

After 18 years of BBQ obsession, endless backyard parties, and accumulating dozens of cookers of all styles and shapes, Craig Kimberley decided to build a barbecue show for Youtube. Combing his career of directing and creating TV shows, and his love of the Q, Craig started BBQ iT ( Only months after becoming a KCBS certified barbecue judge in 2018, Craig decided to compete with a team as a judge to further his knowledge. The talented and laid back team The Cider Boys quickly accepted his request to join them for his first competition experience. The hooks were set and set deep.
Craig quickly called on his buddy, and master chef, Dan Lane (currently Executive Chef at Bison County in Waltham) who is a pitmaster as well, and asked if he would partner in creating GRAND SMOKE RAILROAD BBQ TEAM. Dan quickly accepted. Dan currently ranks 35th at The World Food Championships with his steak skills.
Hartford rib off will be the first KCBS contest for the boys of GRAND SMOKE RAILROAD. Craig will be shooting episodes of BBQ iT for his YouTube and website channels, so stop by and see em’!

Littleman’s Texas BBQ

Paddy McQs

2019 – KCBS Grand Champion
2019 – 1st Place Chicken
2019 – 1st Place Ribs
2019 – 2nd Place Pork
2019 – 5th Place Brisket