BBQ grill masters get ready for Rib Fest in Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

BBQ grill masters get ready for Rib Fest in Wausau

WAUSAU (WAOW) - It's a big weekend for Wausau with events all around town. Balloon and Rib Fest kicked off Thursday.

For some, BBQ is a summertime favorite. But for Paul Mackay of Pittsburgh, it's a way of life.

"It's kind of a personal thing," said Mackay.

Mackay is originally from Sydney, Australia, where he started Ausomm Aussie.

"I was working as a restaurant manager and was reading a restaurant magazine or trade magazine and found out about these cook-offs or competitions and said well we can do that," said Mackay.

He's been at it for 25 years, making appearances on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, and racking up 350 awards.

He's still going, serving up all the classics.

"You can't do BBQ Australian style without having some shrimp off the barbie," said Mackay.

But he says Australian BBQ ribs are a little different.

"Everything we do has a fruit based concept,” said Mackay. “We use apple and cherry wood. Then we have fruit based BBQ sauces. We have apple, pineapple, orange and tomato."

Ausomm Aussie came to Wausau to compete in Rib Fest for the first time last year to test their ribs, and came out on top.

"We're defending champions,” said Mackay. “Best ribs and best sauce first time out for us."

Mackay and his team say they're looking to do that again.

"We're really excited to try and defend the title again this year," said Mackay.

But whether they win or lose, Mackay says he travels to meet people and make new friendships.

"Once you get BBQ in your veins it's hard to get rid of it,” said Mackay. “We've been here a long time and I don't see us quitting anytime soon."

Rib Fest runs through Sunday.
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