Our 11th annual chilēfest is upon us! What better reason to get together than to meet over hot chilē and cold beer and great company! Hosted this year by Summit Brewing Company – We are taking over their bar in Building A – the “secret” bar of Summit! Bring a non-perishable food item or a cash donation for Second Harvest Heartland as your ticket of entry.

More information to be posted soon. Stay tuned in to our Facebook Page for more from mancuisine.

The following is a version of the Award Winning Beef Ribs served at mancuisine’s smökathon in 2016. It is important to note that when planning to make this recipe, call your butcher well ahead of time as they do not often stockpile beef ribs in their facility – a shame, as these ribs far surpass any flavor you can get from the same style of cut that is offered in pork. I am giving the full recipe for a competition sized portion, make any adjustments as needed or make extra as the rub will last in a pantry for the next time you make these ribs (and there will be a next time, trust me).

Setup for the beef ribs at the beginning of the cook time
Setup for the beef ribs at the beginning of the cook time

I use an offset smoker, with an old bread pan filled with water directly next to the firebox in the cook chamber. Water pans are highly recommended to be used in this recipe – if cooking the ribs in the oven as I have been known to do, I will place a pan with water in there as well to keep the moisture level up in the chamber.

The Meat:
4 racks Texas style beef ribs
Remove the meat from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to allow the meat to get near room temperature. Trim any excess fat and score the membrane on the underside of the rib along each bone with a knife – this gives the rest of the fat easy access to drip out, and there will be plenty over the cook time.

The Rub:
1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
3 T chili flakes
1/3 cup + 1 T sea salt
Put the peppercorns and chili flakes into a spice or coffee grinder and grind them into a rough sand, you do not want it to be too fine. Mix in the salt and put 1/4 to 1/2 of the mixture onto the ribs, making sure to get it into the meat, the sides and the bottom of the racks.

Start your coals, fire or oven and bring your vessel to 225 degrees. Maintain this temperature the entire cook time. Know your vessel and what it needs to stay there, and when those times come when more fuel is needed to be added. This is key to a good piece of meat at the end of the day.

Put the ribs into the smoker with the thicker bone side facing the firebox or heat source. Rub in last 1/2 of the dry rub into the top side of the ribs. Close the vessel and watch your temperature.

If cooking multiple racks, rotate the meat every 1.5 to 2 hours to ensure that each one is cooked evenly. 5 hours into the cook time, wrap the ribs with an unlined butcher paper. I do the simple envelope style where the ribs are placed in the center with the membrane side up, fold the four corners into the center, tuck them under and place back in the vessel as they had been when taken out. I cook these using only wood, if you are cooking with charcoal and wood chunks I recommend doing this step and hour or two later. This is also the step where you may add your favorite sauce to the ribs, but they will also be amazing just with the rub.

finished product at the final unwrapping
finished product at the final unwrapping

8 hours into cook time remove the ribs, still wrapped, and place them into a cooler or large plastic container. Leave them there for one hour, remove, unwrap, sauce, and cut into individual ribs.

Make sure to have some paper towels handy, as these ribs will be juicy!

Our smökathon [also previously know as ribfest] took a different angle this year on competitive cooking, as our challengers were able to select any cut of meat from a cow or a pig and not just pork ribs as ruled in the past. Every person selected something unique from each other in happenstance, as we discussed what we were cooking at a meeting a few days before the event.

Jeff doing an initial check of the brisket before the long haul of smoking
Jeff doing an initial check of the brisket before the long haul of smoking

Jeff was to cook a brisket in his new beast of a smoker, Brad to cook a pork shoulder. Adam was telling us that he was going to cook up some pulled pork from a pork loin and Doug found an uncured ham he was going to smoke all day. I chose to try to tackle beef ribs and Trevor took the challenge of making pastrami from scratch. A great unplanned variety from the cooks in our first year of opening up the options.

Trevor's set-up at the beginning of the day
Trevor’s set-up at the beginning of the day

Jeff in his competitive nature rolled up to our venue at 4:30 am to put the coals on and begin his process. The rest of us came down around 7:30 and did the same. It was 8:00 am when Jeff cracked his first beer open, as the long day of sustaining temperature means you have to slow down a bit and relax around your firebox.

Weather reports started pinging on our phones around noon as a severe weather alert had been issued for our area! This would be a new challenge for us, as the weather had always complemented our days of cooking in the past.

Most of us chose to put some foil down as insulation
Most of us chose to put some foil down as insulation

It did not take long for us to get the needed protection set up for our smokers and battle the cool-down that the rain would inevitably bring. The rain kept the competitors busy for the few hours that it did come down, but for the most part our smokers held temperature and it was a minor hiccup in the day.

The rain broke around 3:00 and the people came rushing in. Coolers stocked with beer and drinks and the conversations in the crowd were fulfilling and plentiful. This is the real reason why we do these competitions every year – to bring our friends and family together over food and merriment. 

As the 5:00 pm judging time was beginning to approach there were many tactics that emerged as to what could be done to finish the meat. Foil and butcher paper rolls were unearthed and coolers opened. Some wrapped with sauce, others without. It was a year of high diversity in our outcomes. smokathon winners

In the end it was Trevor, with the pastrami, who received the most amount of votes from the crowd as their favorite and he took home the traveling belt. Isaac, with the beef ribs, got the highest tally from the 5 judges and took home the trophy.

Hope to see you all next year at our 8th annual smökathon in 2017!


Its time again to get the coals burning and the smoke rolling as we prepare for the 7th annual mancuisine.com smökathon. We are having it once again down at our Eagan on Hackmore Drive, inquire with one of our members on specifics. This year we will have a voluntary ticket system to enter for all those hoping to eat so we can properly prepare. Check our eventbrite site for more information.

New rule this year: All those competing can choose any cut, from pork or beef, with any cookktime, as they choose – as long as it is cooked over a natural flame. It is an open invitation to have anyone cook and compete with us! – send any inquiries to compete to isaac@mancuisine.com

The coals will be fired up around 10 AM, judging at 5 PM with beverages and edibles available all day! Join whenever you would like, the team will be around for good company.

Bring a side dish to be shared with all and some beers as well if you so choose!

The last few days have had me laid flat due to a sickness of the season. Its in these hours of restricted movement and mental frustration that my mind meandered to the respite that a warm bowl of chili can bring on these fatigued days. Call it medicine of the soul or a bowl of warm memories past, but in any case possible it is a moment where your body and mind can take a break and relax in the warm waves of flavor.

I have a book of chili recipes from across the Nation, one recipe from every state. Having read through the descriptions and recipes each one has there is a consistent idea for what makes a chili – that it fits with those it feeds. Arizona has a high spice, Texas with lots of chunk beef, Alaska uses mild flavors and Oregon uses seafood. In each of these places it is what that population calls chili – and if anyone from there says its not is likely that their family is a transplant who calls their ancestors version the quintessential ‘chili’.

This makes competing in Minnesota a difficult task as our population is a wayward mix of old and new, immigrants of places historically warm and cold, both recent and ages prior. How to appease this crowd? This year I am going with a feeling. That feeling when you bite into a spoonful and all you get in your mouth is the flavor of a memory. A time that reminds you that you are loved, that there is someone to wrap you up when you are sick, or bring you  that bowl of warm soup. We don’t need to be like Cincinnati and add noodles, or Ohio and add vinegar. What people come for and eat is to be reminded of who they are in that most childlike of times; crouched on the couch wrapped in quilts and letting the steam from the bowl sitting warm in your hands help erase all feeling in your head.

I hope that you all can make it on Saturday so you can get a taste of that feeling, and fill your insides with warmth and comfort. Just don’t forget the beers to pair it with 😉

Learn more about our event here.

With all extended family gatherings come the need to find places of reprieve. Ours tends to be around our brewing equipment. What follows are two brews that we cooked up at our December celebration where our brother came back from Washington (seen here on his laptop as he gets some work done).

Trevor with the Edelmetall Brü Burner in the front made his variation of an ESB he has been tinkering with. He was using his all-grain system (seen later with the igloos in the house) and taking notes in his computer print outs. You can see me in the flannel with the Brew-in-a-bag doing a variation of the Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em Rauchweizen from Growler Magazine.

I poured mine into a keg today, Trevor is closely following suit. Let us know if you want to try a pint 🙂

February 27th, 2016 – Turtle Bread Longfellow

6:00 – Happy Hour
6:30 – Tasting and Judging

Ticket to enter: Bring to enjoy and share – a 6-pack or growler, a plate of cornbread, or another chili accompaniment. These events continue to be free as long as the organizers and participants leave happy and full of merriment and imbibition. Not too hard to do with this crowd. Continue Reading for more information:

The competition was a great success this year. The average scores the contestants had were placed higher at this competition than previous ones – either the chefs are stepping their game up or you all are just loving what we make more and more! In total we had 42 people complete the scoring process, with many more in attendance to just taste what was made – including our competitors! Here is the highlights:

Highest rated chili overall, and the winner of the trophy: #1 Trevor with an average of 3.5/5

Runner up for the trophy: #6 Zane with an average score of 3.4/5

Hottest Chili: #3 Doug with an average heat rating of 4.1/5  [the highest average we had!]

Crowd Favorite, and the winner of the belt: Trevor, with 8/42 Votes [This category was very close across the chilis!]

Would you like to try your hand at being our guest chili competitor next year? Head over to this form and submit your name in the random entry. Multiple entries allowed. The winner will be selected and announced at this year’s Ribfest in August.

We tried a new online scoring system that worked wonderfully and allowed for quick tabulations of the votes. Our fellow statistitian Brad may have some insight posted soon, but for now we just wanted to get the results out to those who could not make it.

Thanks for coming,  and we will see you at the Ribfest in August (if not before then at the bar!),

ManCuisine.com Competiting Members – Adam, Brad, Doug, Isaac, Jeff, Trevor, and our guest competitors.

To begin: There have been a few vodka drinks after a rough day which has my mind on the process of cooking with alcohol. It is no secret I have tried in the past to use Summit’s delicious winter ales and porters in my chilis with the intent to bring out the mindset that my steaming pot of food will bring them warmth and merriment on cold winter nights. There was a year that I used tequila in a batch only to be praised for its warm flavor and downvoted for the same reason by others. Looking out the window today and with the soft memory of sun on my face from the walk this afternoon I began to doubt my previous tactics to win out the crowd this year in the chilifest competition. This year I plan to win, not just to try my hand at an idea I think will win.

Over the years of working with my family and friends to bring us all together and have a night of food and happiness I have come around to the idea of competing. For those who know me, I am not a competitor – in any sense of the word. In the halls of history I place my winnings in the same rooms that I hold minor trophies for small bowling accomplishments and that time I won the best decorated derby car in cub scouts [but not the fastest!]. Cooking has always been in a different part of my house, not in the modest trophy room I keep undusted.

It brings me to those strands of memory in which I was taught to cook; brought in to experience what it means to bring the ingredients into a dish and what those meant to the overall meal that it provided our hungry family. It was customary that as soon as you had a head over the counter that you would help cook a meal for those in the house. The best part was the ‘secret ingredient’ in which we were able to pour one part of a vial, a jar, or a random container in the cupboard, and see if the family could place what we had added. For those of you who have been to the Chilifest in the past know this from Joan’s needed explanation of their ‘secret ingredient’ every year that may give the men an edge.

The words “Instant Coffee”, “Bacon,” “Chorizo”, “Hominy”, and even “A slight dose of MSG” have been announced at these moments that the cooks have been questioned. And these are the ones that I remember from the lineup of winners in our almost 10 years of friendly competition. My ingredients have been “Tofu”, “Curried Beans”, “Pork Shoulder brined in Porter”, and the aforementioned “Tequila”. The comparison to those who don the belt of victory to my outlandish ideas have reigned me in,

Don’t view this is as a bash on the judges who have voted me low due to my venturous nature. I have loved every chili that I have created. This is a call out to those who have had and enjoyed my reaching into the cupboard to explore those flavors yet unexplored in our competition. You are the real MVPs. This year my head is above the counter but my mind is on the trophy room. I can use all the secret ingredients I want but I know that what wins is not ‘warmth and merriment’ but the spoon that brings in the flavors even the smallest of children imagine when the soup is dropped off in front of them.

Get ready judges, this spoonful’s for you. See you on Saturday.


Who will reign supreme? The members of ManCuisine.com are bringing their A-Game and ready to battle it out on the tastebuds of those who dare to taste the heaven that is the chili the men concoct every year. This annual event brings in the best assortment of people – our friends and family!

The location this year is at the Turtle Bread Company in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. At 6:00 begins the social ‘hour’. 6:30 begins the tasting and judging. The doors close when the last one leaves.

To attend: Bring yourself.
To eat/judge: Bring a 6+ pack to share or your best version of cornbread per person participating.

We have 9+ chili cooks up to the challenge this year. Only one trophy goes home.


The chili cooks that are competing this year:

Brad J – Longtime competitor, longtime recipe testing; This year is his.

Trevor J – Has taken home the trophy, tasting for it again.

Isaac J – Experiential, experienced, ready.

Doug M – Wild card, won it, will win it again.

Adam M – Cooking chili year round. Going to make it happen.

Jeff S – Holds both trophies. Doesn’t plan to lose any.

Zane/Allie N – Newcomers, promising family recipe – make it happen with the judges?

Brian I – Longtime judge, knows what wins, first time competing – will the equation work?

Ken Z – Part of the family, itching to try his recipe for the first time, itching to win.


In summation:

March 14th 2015

4205 E 34th Street – Minneapolis, MN 55406

6:00 show up and converse

6:30 tasting and judging

Leave when it seems right.