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Barbecue cook-off champ, Ernest Ramirez, feeds hunger

Barbecue cook-off champ, Ernest Ramirez, feeds hunger

By Norma Vasquez
El Gato
HOUSTON -- The smell of brisket, chicken and ribs helps fulfill the hunger that drives award-winner Ernest Ramirez to grill. Growing up in a farm in Southern Texas, Ramirez discovered his passion.

ernestramirez2-300x200.jpg Ernest Ramirez prepares for the judges
(Photo: Daniel Mendez-EGMN)

"The 70s were about real cowboys, going out with the cowboys and staying out there with them," said Ramirez. "That inspired me; seeing all that made me want to grill."

Upon moving to Victoria, Ramirez became involved with the Knights of Columbus and began cooking chicken. Ramirez later moved to Houston and began participating in cook-offs.

"I came to Houston and started barbecuing with a barrel pit because that's all I had," Ramirez said. "Eventually I did a cook-off in New Caney and bought a smoker pit. I won the whole competition and was like 'Wow! That's cool!'"

Grilling with a small grill is unethical in the world of barbeque, which is why Ramirez began building his own through his experience of being a welder. "The one I built took me ... around 4 years. It's an 8-foot rotating pit with a 20-foot trailer. I had no blue prints so I looked on the Internet," Ramirez said.

Participating in his first major competition in 2000, his team Drillen and Grillen came in second place out of 400 teams

competing in the reserve ribs. Ramirez continued competing and was named Grand Champion of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Cook Off in 2010.
Ernest Ramirez prepares for the judges - Daniel Mendez-EGMN

"When they called out the name it didn't sink in. When I saw my wife that's when it really did and a big load came off of me. It's an experience that's 'wow'. You want to feel it again so that's where the hunger comes from - it's the feeling of accomplishment," Ramirez said.

The win in 2010 did not only create the hunger but ...

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