Known for its sauce flavors and ribs, the capital’s own Carson City BBQ placed fourth in the 29th annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off competition last week, Aug. 29-Sept. 3.
For six days straight, owners Duane Felker and Phil Hyatt, along with their barbecue team, cooked 885 racks of ribs with five smokers. With that, they took home a trophy and a cash prize of $1,000.
“For us to be in the top five is astounding,” Hyatt said. “At the time, we didn’t even know we were in the running. It’s a very coveted award and heated competition.”
But this isn’t their first award of the year; the local barbecue company won first place in Best Ribs, second place for Best Sauce, and first place for Best People Choice in May, during San Juan Bautista Rib Cook-Off in California.
With 20 years in business, Carson City BBQ has won more than 35 first place awards overall.
“It’s rare if we don’t place in something,” Hyatt said. “Most of the top winners in Sparks do 15 to 20 rib cook-offs a year. Anybody in the top five could be number one; you can take the same five ribs and have five different winners.”
That’s how close the points were in the Nugget’s cook-off, Hyatt said; Carson City BBQ was only four points away from placing first.
They beat Austin’s Texas Lightning BBQ of Burr Ridge, Ill., whom came in fifth. The first place winner of this year’s competition also was from Burr Ridge, Chicago BBQ Company.
In the past, Carson City BBQ also won numerous awards from the Nugget cook-off, such as Best Ribs twice, People’s Choice twice, and a three-time winner of Best Sauce.
That sauce in particular, however, is their Original BBQ Sauce, which can be found at local stores such as Sportsman’s Warehouse, Butler’s Meats, and Raley’s stores in Carson City and Gardnerville.
Carson City BBQ caters 250 to 300 events per year and serving clients as far as 500 miles away. Now the team has another trophy to add to the collection, Carson City BBQ will be catering for 875 people on Saturday, at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada’s 24th annual Luau event, 5-10 p.m. at the Multipurpose Athletic Center.
They also will be catering at Genoa’s Candy Dance Faire Sept. 23-24.
But according to Hyatt, their largest catering job this year was during the 4th of July celebration for the Homeowners Association in Glenbrook, serving 1,900 people.
“Locally, our wedding catering is our busiest right now,” he said. “Our catering business has been exploding for two decades.”
It all began in the early 1990s when Hyatt and Felker would make frequent trips to Lake Lahontan and barbecue by the shore. When the lake dried up, it inspired the duo to begin a catering business, leading them to compete in their first cook-off in the Arizona Rib Round Up.
They tried their luck again at the Best on the Mountain Horizon Rib Cook-Off and won best sauce. Following that, they won first or second place for sauce, and first place for ribs over the next five years.
In 1998, they entered the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off for the first time.