WRIGLEYVILLE — The Sweet Baby Ray's competition team is headed to the nation's biggest rib cook-off — and you can help them win.
The Wrigleyville location of Sweet Baby Ray's, 3478 N. Clark St., will host its first Rib Extravaganza for a week starting Monday. Customers are encouraged to give feedback on the sweet, tangy St. Louis-style spareribs that the team will be serving up later in the week at the Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Reno, Nev.
The team went to the invitation-only competition for the first time last year and won second place. This year, they're aiming for first, said Dylan Lipe, chef at the Wrigleyville restaurant.
Winners get cash prizes, but it's less about the money and more about the honor, Lipe said.
"In a writer's career, you want to win the Pulitzer, you want a New York Times bestseller," Lipe said. "For us, it's the same way. We want to validate what we're doing and show that not only do we have good barbecue sauce, we have a really good product."
Beyond competition ribs, Sweet Baby Ray's will be offering a sampler of other meats for the extravaganza, including Texas spareribs, short ribs and Memphis baby back ribs.
A sampler platter costs $25 and will be available on Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and on weekends, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., until sold out.
Sweet Baby Ray's competition team also will enter its St. Louis-style spare ribs in the Windy City BBQ Classic, a local competition at Soldier Field on Sept. 1. The Rib Extravaganza is meant to complement the two competitions as a celebration of the meaty treat.
"We want to have people come out and enjoy different kinds of ribs their heart desires," Lipe said.