Fired up for United Way |

Fired up for United Way

A streak of perfectionism, coupled with her love of cooking and a batch of baby back ribs, propelled Lisa LaBarbera and her friends to local stardom in last year’s Barbecue Battle of the Sexes, a fundraiser for the United Way of Nevada County.

Calling themselves the She Devils, the team plans to win again this year and will compete against three other all-women teams in a semifinals round on Thursday. A final competition between finalists from the women’s and the men’s sides will occur in September at a kickoff event for the charity’s yearly employee giving campaign.

As in American Idol, the public will be the ultimate judge during a tasting held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Gold Miners Inn Holiday Inn Express parking lot in Grass Valley. A raffle could win participants a trip to Oahu’s north shore and $1000 cash for airfare, donated by Tri-Continent.

Last year, the event raised $1,400, LaBarbera said. This year organizers have set a goal of $5,000.

Cost is $5 for three taste tickets and the right to vote for one men’s team and one women’s team. Rock’n’roll music is being provided for free by Sols.

Money will be distributed to 19 agencies that offer services dealing with affordable housing, family violence, health, transportation and substance abuse, according to the United Way Web site. All the money raised will stay within Nevada County, Executive Director Megan Timpany said.

“This was something that was started last year to educate people about United Way and all the many nonprofits we give money to,” Timpany said. “A couple months ago, we allocated a $100,000 to our partner agencies.”

Unlike her father, who passed on the barbecuing tradition in her family, LaBarbera uses a dry rub with coriander on meaty pork ribs and a homemade sweet-and-salty sauce. She adds a variety of mustards, combined with apple butter and apricot preserves, to give her sauce a tangy sweetness.

Just don’t ask for the rest of the ingredients.

“We don’t give away the barbecue recipe,” LaBarbera said.

To learn more about United Way, visit

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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