Friday, June 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

Local Restaurant Spotlight: Uncle Thurm’s ponders BBQ challenge

Thurmond Brokenbrough, the man behind the smoker at Uncle Thurm's Finger Lickin' Ribs and Chicken, is calling out Tacoma’s slab jockeys to go rib-to-rib against his home-style recipe.

“I’m the best in town, and I want to call people out,” he said with a laugh that only confidence provides.

He is pondering ways for the barbeque restaurants in town to have a contest for the honor of “best ribs in the 253,” maybe by categories for pork, beef, sandwich or whatever.

While he is confident that he would win some bragging rights with his secret process, which involves slow smoking with mesquite and fruit woods topped with tightly-held sauce ingredients, the idea of a contest is more to promote barbeque than for trash-talking fodder between restaurants.

“I don’t want it to be disrespectful. I just want to get them into the arena,” he said. “I just want to put the focus on the barbeque community and this is the best way to do it.”

Details about the rib challenge are in the works, but there are two basic trains of thought.

One method would be to adopt the college basketball bracket system of March Madness. A rib bracket would have customers visit the particular rib joints around Pierce County during each week in the month and vote on which joint produced the best rib meal in that particular bracket. The top restaurant would progress through the bracket system by the end of the month to win the best rib honors.

Another option would be to hold a one-day rib challenge at Taste of Tacoma, or other community event during the summer much like MaritimeFest held the Clam Chowder Challenge. Customers could sample the rib offerings and simply vote for the best offerings at a central ballot collection spot. A tally of the votes determines the winner.

Yet another option would be to simply have notable foodies and celebrities sample the prized meats from around the 253 to critique and award “top slab” honors.

“I’m just interested in getting the ball rolling on something like that,” Brokenbrough said.

In the meantime, Uncle Thurm's Finger Lickin' Ribs and Chicken hosts The Kareem Kandi Band each month for the area’s best all ages, no-cover jazz night that is served up with stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. Uncle Thurm’s is located at 3709 S. ‘G’ St. in Tacoma.