Pork ribs

Here's one way to work on your barbecue-eating stamina before the Big Apple BBQ in NYC next weekend. This Saturday, June 6, Manhattan's Hill Country restaurant is celebrating its second anniversary with a rib-eating contest. You can still be one of the eight rib-eating contestants-just write a less-than-250-word essay or submit a 1-minute video demonstrating your rib-eating skills by the end of the day Thursday (send it to Or just come as a spectator--$5 will buy you a ticket to the event, which starts at 2 pm; benefits go to Madison Square Park Conservancy.

Hill Country's excellent pit master, Pete Daversa, has some tips for competitive eaters (and for those who really want to maximize barbecue consumption at the Big Apple BBQ).

* Don't starve yourself before the contest. Your stomach will shrink.

* Prior to the contest, eat lots of plain lettuce, celery or boiled cabbage. They're made of mostly water and will help stretch your belly without filling it up.

* Once you're full and can't eat any more, call it a day; don't risk choking or suffering what professionals call a "reversal of fortune."