EASTLAND, TEXAS – Nationally renowned chef and Food Network celebrity Sandy Davis to return as a judge for the 2nd Annual Rip's Ribs Cook Off on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Davis tells organizers he “is excited to come back to Eastland and sample some of the finest St. Louis Style Ribs in the area.”
Davis, instructor at the TSTC Culinary School in Abilene, Texas, has been in the food business for over thirty years serving as the Chef for United Bank of Texas Executive Dining room in Austin for six years, on Wall Street as the Sous-Chef of Prudential Bache Securities on Water Street in New York City. He then became chef of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village and opened another Cowgirl in Santa Fe. Since 1995 Sandy has been in the catering world of New York, and, in 2009, won the premiere episode of the popular Food Network show, "Chopped."
Sharon Riley was reared in Eastland Texas, graduated from Eastland High in 1965, attended Cisco Jr. College and graduated from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Sharon worked as a Registered Nurse in hospitals in Eastland and Ranger and then started her own consulting business for nursing homes.
In 1980 her career changed when she and her husband decided to start a small barbecue restaurant, Joe Allen's.  She told her friends that she found a job with worse hours than nursing! Sharon's dad, who had been raised on a dairy, told her that it was the most like a dairy of anything he had ever seen! Starting a restaurant is unrelenting work, but it paid off, and in 1985 they opened Cahoots Catfish and Oyster Bar…a successful seafood restaurant that Sharon owned until 2002.
In 2000 Sharon opened Lytle Land & Cattle company…a full service steak and seafood restaurant that has enjoyed much popularity in Abilene…winning Best Restaurant and Best Steak in the Abilene Reporter News Reader's Choice Awards five years in a row. On her own after 2002 and being involved only with Lytle Land & Cattle, Sharon missed the barbecue business and opened “Sharon's Barbeque” in 2005. Sharon's Barbeque has made a name for itself and has won Best Barbeque since 2007 in the Reader's Choice Awards. Sharon's Catering, an off-shoot of Sharon's Barbeque keeps all her staff hopping.
Sharon has served on numerous boards in Abilene, including the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, Abilene Chamber of Commerce, Western Heritage Classic, Taylor County Expo Center, United Way, and others. In 2008 Sharon was honored to be one of the first three people be inducted into the Abilene Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.
Sharon has two children Scott and Amy, and two wonderful granddaughters, Alexandra and Symantha. In 2006 Sharon married Tom Riley and has inherited his two sons and their families with more beautiful grandchildren. Tom retired from the Abilene school system and is helping Sharon in the restaurant business.
Sharon shares these thoughts “The restaurant business is a wonderful, rewarding business, but people have to be prepared to pay their dues…hard work and long hours. And then, if you're lucky and blessed as I am to have a great staff, you can take a little time off…but not much!”
A total of five judges will use their culinary skills and taste buds to select the top entries of the St. Louis style ribs. Joining Davis and Riley will be Jacob Barnes, Mike Barnes  and Jerry Meyerson.
Jacob Barnes has spent over ten years in the restaurant business, having served in various positions at Snuffers Restaurant of Dallas, Z Tejas Restaurant in Austin, and now the Salty Sow in Austin. Salty Sow has recently received acclaim in Texas Monthly Magazine. Jacob brings expertise as chef and caterer to the event, and he enjoys experimenting with spicy barbequed beef recipes. He is also a respected advisor in the beer and beverage arena.
Mike Barnes served for several years as board member with the Economic Development Corporation in Hico. Mike was 2009 Chairman of Hico's annual Texas Steak Cook Off, the largest steak cook-off in the southwestern United States. He served as co-chairman two additional years. Barnes now resides in Dallas where he is CEO of EMAX-Legacy Partners, LLC.
Jerry Meyerson began working for McDonald's Corporation in 1975 as a Manager Trainee in Fort Worth, Texas.  During his 34 year career, he held various jobs in the company; from the training of managers, to overseeing 150 company owned restaurants in four states, to partnering with franchisees to reach their highest potential. He left McDonald's USA in 2007, taking a position as Director of Training for McDonald's of Japan.  In December 2009, Jerry retired from his corporate position and purchased McDonald's in Eastland.  When this opportunity became available he was thrilled to become a member of the Eastland community and the challenges of building the business.  Owning a McDonald's franchise had always been one of his dreams.
The fun starts at 9 a.m. with a Cook's Meeting with the cooking to begin at 9:15. Judging will begin at 5 p.m. with the winners announced at 6:30 p.m.  First Prize winner will be awarded $1,000 and a trophy, and other winners will share a $1,650 pot.  A rib dinner with all the trimmings for ticket holders begins at 6 p.m.  Tickets on sale now at Eastland Chamber of Commerce for $15 each!!
Live music begins at 10 a.m., featuring Tim Turnbeaugh, Dusty River Band, Doc Rockin' Band, Marley Prase, and Spur 490 Band playing for the street dance beginning at 7 p.m.  Gunfights and quick-draw contests by Lone Star Lead ‘n Lace have been brought back by popular demand, and they will perform throughout the day.  RipTide and Clover Leaf Square Dancers will also be performing on the Courthouse Square.
For more information contact Eastland Chamber of Commerce at 254-629-2332.