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One week after the professionals competed for “Best in Show” at the annual Capital City Ribest, five amateur backyard grillmasters will give it a go Saturday at the inaugural “Bites Brews & BBQ” at the Lancaster Event Center.

The Lincoln Journal Star, the event’s sponsor, took nominations from the public for three weeks in July and chose five from that list to go head to head in a cook-off.

The five are JJ Kalita, Francis “Scott” Schrotberger, Adam Torres and Khalil “KC” Woods from Lincoln and Dan Brown from Elmwood.

They will create a three-course meal -- appetizer, entree and dessert -- on the grill with five area judges then deciding who is Lincoln’s best backyard grillmaster. Judges are Marci Davison, owner of Carmela’s Bistro and Wine Bar; Hy-Vee meat manager Jon Arroyo; Adam Wegner from the Nebraska Beef Council and a special guest.

The 38-year-old Woods, for one, is confident in his skills.

“I wouldn't say I'm a grill master, but those that know me beg to differ!” he wrote in promotional materials for the event. “I am one with my grill and my passion can be tasted through my food.”

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Kalita has a backstory that may play well with the judges: He’s the first American citizen in his family, being born to Ukrainian parents one month after they arrived in America. Now retired, Kalita pursues his passion on a daily basis.

“I have always aspired to make unique and complex flavors in all my dishes and an constantly asking myself ‘How can I make it better?’” he wrote. It doesn’t matter if it’s the grill, the smoker, the stove, the oven, I always figure out how to make it really, really good.”

The competition is open to the public, with food and beverages available to sample and purchase from local vendors. Tickets are $10. Admission is free for children 10 and younger. Tickets are available in advance at or at the door.

Doors open at 2 p.m., with competition beginning two hours later. Local blues musician Levi William will perform from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or

On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.


Features editor

Jeff Korbelik is the features editor and covers dining, performing arts, TV and local media. Follow him at @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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