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‘It’s a lifestyle’ for rib vendors

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Ordering ribs from Gonzalez BBQ is not just a culinary experience.

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It’s a form of entertainment watching them work their grill making ribs, chicken and sides.

“We like to be happy,” smiled Jorge Gonzalez, owner of Gonzalez BBQ, one of two rib vendors at the Tillsonburg Ribfest in 2019 and last weekend’s takeout-style ribfest in the Tillsonburg Community Centre parking lot.

“And we like ‘flavour’ music. That’s why we are loud.

“Our panels are yellow because we like light, bright colours. We have blue in our panel because we symbolize ‘the sky is the limit.’

“We have a Latin American twist,” said Gonzales. “Pretty much in everything. Our sauce is a little bit of sweet and a little bit of kick.”

The seasoning includes some South American spice, he said.

“You don’t just have to make the ribs, you have to make it special. If you don’t love what you do, no matter how much sauce and how much peppers, you’ve got to love what you do.

“It’s a life – it’s so hard to explain.”

Gonzalez, based in London, has been on the ribfest trail about four years. His current team includes his wife and two daughters.

“Being a ribber is a lifestyle. Again, you’ve got to love what you do.”

The life of a rib vendor is one of travel. It starts in the spring and runs until the fall with stops at festivals across the province, and the country.

“I enjoy when we come to new towns, meet new people. And later on in life, if someone says, ‘Have you ever been to Ottawa?’ Yes, yes I have.”

This year they had scheduled three festivals in Quebec, including Gatineau, but because of COVID-19, it didn’t happen.

“Tillsonburg was our first and our last show this year,” said Gonzalez.

“We like Tillsonburg because it’s comfortable, and people here in Tillsonburg are very nice. They are very welcoming, terrific. And the Thunder hockey people, they are very nice. I think they deserve more support from the community because they do an amazing job, I think. I’ve been all across Western Ontario, from Windsor to London, and I think Tillsonburg, it was a leader.”

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