Lakewood Ranch BBQ cook-off leaves some hungry

skennedy@bradenton.comSeptember 22, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- So many hungry people turned up Saturday at the Main Street BBQ Cook-Off, some of them didn't get any barbecue at all.

The cook-off featured dishes prepared by seven restaurants, and tickets were sold at $5 apiece for samples from each.

Each ticket-holder got to vote for his or her favorite restaurant.

The catch: There were only 600 tickets, and the restaurants only made enough food for 600 samplers -- and the crowd outnumbered the tickets and the food, according to Julia DeCastro, Lakewood Ranch director of leasing and sales.

The tickets sold out after 27 minutes, she said.

"That's what I get for turning up late," said Brian Villanueva, 37, of Bradenton, who was unable to purchase a ticket for barbecue about halfway through the two-hour event.

He consoled himself by buying beer instead.

Those who got there at 6 p.m., when the fundraiser began, however, went home sated.

One of the early birds was Nicole Pies, 30, who lives nearby.

"We come to all the Lakewood Ranch cook-offs and barbecues," she explained, adding, "We like barbecue."

It was the first time at such an event for Claire Dempsey, 66, of Sarasota, who also was an early attendee.

"It is delicious so far," she said, finishing off one of the sampler plates.

Among the competing restaurants for the People's Choice Best BBQ were Polo Grill; MacAllisters, Ed's Tavern, El Lago Ranchero; The Trattoria; Station 400, and Pinchers Crab Shack.

At press time, there was no word on the winner of the cook-off.

The fundraiser benefitted the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.

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