Hudson -- Last year he won the amateur BBQ title in Cleveland. This year he wants to win it again.

Paul Wood, a 1978 Hudson High School graduate and self-taught cook, will be defending his title this year at the Marc's Great American Rib Cook-Off Amateur Grillers competition Memorial Day weekend.

The event begins at noon May 24 and final judging should be completed by 4 p.m., Wood said.

The grillers are given three racks of ribs in vacuum sealed packages at 11:30 a.m. They can begin preparations, but the grills can't be started until noon. Then the cooking begins for two hours.

"The biggest challenge is to get them cooked and tender, which takes time and patience," Wood said. "You don't have time in this contest, but the worst thing is to cook them for full two hours, they'll be charcoal."

Cook the ribs on low heat and move them from direct to indirect heat, Wood advises.

The judges don't know who prepared the ribs. Marc's employees take the numbered entries back and forth. First, the racks are judged for appearance and then the cooks divide the ribs for each of the judges, and they are sent back to be judged on texture and taste, Wood said.

The Great American Rib Cook-Off and Music Festival features Joan Jett & the Blackhearts performing during the Memorial Day weekend event on the West Bank Flats in Cleveland.

Prizes from the competition include the grill they cooked on, gift packs, gift cards and concert tickets. The winner has bragging rights, he added.

Although Wood's known for his ribs, jambalaya is his favorite dish.

He has experience camp cooking and has prepared caribou, moose, elk, bear, deer, duck, quail, pheasant among other wild creatures for 10 to 20 men.

"I've cooked everything that walks, flies or crawls," Wood said. "But I don't do camping anymore."

Wood wrote a cookbook, "Woody's Cookin'" with more than 140 family recipes in it.

He won the 2010 Hudson's Best Back Yard Cook with his Hawaiian chicken.

Wood said he has been influenced by Alton Brown, the made scientist chef, and Michael Symon who has been on shows like the Iron Chef and ABC's The Chew.

His cooking won't be done on Saturday since only the men in the family cook holiday meals with Wood the fifth generation male cook in the family. Like many others, he'll be at the grill Memorial Day.

More information at www.fox8/ribs


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