Estel’s 11th Annual Rib Cook-Off Is Bigger, Better and More Delicious than Ever

Estel’s Dine by the Sea is the favorite breakfast/brunch joint right in the center of San Pedro – just south of Central Park.  Right on the beach next to this sign.

They are well known for the best fry jacks in the world but also for this big and getting bigger annual event.

Yesterday, the crew at Estel’s gathered 8 grillers from around the world – yes the world! – to fire up their barbecues and their smokers, prepare racks and racks of ribs and serve hundreds of hungry AND judgemental fans on the beach.

Can you think of a more beautiful view?

View at Estel's Dine by Sea

For bragging rights and a HUGE rib belt (adjustable of course…an adjustable belt is as critical as hand-wipes after eating a big plate of BBQ)

Here’s my rib best selfie.

Grand Master Grill Award Belt

Estel’s had sold OUT of 200 tickets…there were 2 live bands…and the grillers had been at work since 5am!  (The sunrises at about 6:30am this time of year)

BBQ Cook-Off Belt

Oh…and I forgot to tell you the very best part.  I was asked to be a judge!

Judges Table Estels

What qualifications do you actually have you might ask?  Well…I’ve done it before.  AND…I guess I didn’t TOTALLY mess it up.  It’s SO fun to look back on these older posts – and smaller competitions.  Take a look at the first competition in 2012!

4 of the original BBQers have been competing every year – Rick from Oregon, Jim from Kansas City and Kevin from Island’s Jungle Bar and Restaurant and Charles from Estel’s.

The 6th Annual Rib Cook-Off at Estel’s (this post has some of my favorite GIFs of all time)

So let me get to this year’s event.  The 11th Annual BBQ Cook-off and show you how it all went down.

Estel's BBQ cook-off

2014:  The 3rd Annual Estels Rib Cook-off – Belizeans Take Both Medals!

The 8 competitors were the original four – Rick from Oregon…ENTRY A

Rick at Estels

Jim – in the middle-  from Kansas City.  With the official shirts for the team…ENTRY C

Jim Estels

Kevin from Orange Walk and San Pedro with “Team Kevin” behind him.  ENTRY F or ask Kevin, he put it “F for f*ck yeah”


And Charles…one of the owners of Estels. ENTRY B Somehow I forgot to get his picture!  But here he is standing with his wife Irenie in front of the gorgeous view after everyone had eaten.

Brian and team from Kansas City.  Apparently, they do BBQ up there!  😉  ENTRY E

Balls Out Team

Joe and Robin.   ENTRY D

Chef Toshiya – he’s from Japan.  But has been in Belize for quite a few years now and does fantastic sushi at Jyoto Restaurant ENTRY H

(And if you are thinking…Japanese?  Don’t!  They are grill masters and teriyaki…and ginger…are delicious with pork)

And Mark from Dallas.  ENTRY G

Mark From Dallas

And then pictures of the event and the gorgeous day.


View at Estels

What a day!

O in Central Park

Not only do you need to make great ribs…but you need to make it for HUNDREDS of people.  On an 80-degree day.  This is no joke, folk.

Lance the Boca Del Rio potlicker who meets SOOOO many visitors was waiting patiently for the food to be served.  This was going to be a good afternoon for Lance.


Belikin Maya God


Traveller’s Rum was there giving samples…

And then the food was served.  I was judging with a very esteemed bunch.  Mayor Wally, Mayor of San Pedro.  Chef Jennie, the fantastic chef from Elvi’s Kitchen WHO retired from this competition after winning ALL the medals a few years back.  Very smart.  There were 6 others around the table.


Mmmm RIbs

And the scoring pad.

Scoring ribs competition

You’d think this was just delicious eating but it’s HARD!  (No….no need for thoughts and prayers)

All of those who bought tickets got a plate and they would be voting on the People’s Choice award.

And in the end…drumroll please…

(I chose C and F as my favorites…)


3rd: E – Brian    2nd:  F – Kevin      FIRST PLACE:  C – JIM

Go Jim!  Sweet and savory and a tiny bit spicy…dark and shiny and tender and delicious.  And not “hammy”…


3rd: E – Brian 2nd:  C – Jim   FIRST PLACE:  F – KEVIN

YES!  Jim and Kevin’s were so close – and as judges…we were divided.  Kevin’s ribs were more smoky and Jim’s less so.  It’s a personal preference I guess.


3rd place:  F Kevin  2nd place:  D Joe and First Place:  JIM

All tallied and totaled, the big prize, the GRAND MASTER GRILLER went to Jim.

Grand Master Griller

I’ll share this 2017 picture from the 6th Annual Cook-Off of Jim…because it’s a classic.

Check out some great pictures of this year’s grinning grilling winners at the San Pedro Sun here.

WHAT a fun event.

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