More than 22 teams of kosher meat lovers battled it out this weekend for top honors in the chicken, beans, ribs and brisket competitions at the second annual Long Island Kosher BBQ championship, a contest, food fest and charity event in Westbury that I help judge.
The food produced by the contest was better this year; many of the teams worked through Saturday night barbecuing their meat, low and slow.
“It's not easy staying up all night to monitor the temperature and make sure we have the right amount of smoke for our meat,” said contestant Linus Farber of a team from the Young Israel of Plainview. “And we were still setting up our booth at three in the morning.”
A mix of amateur and professional grillers, the teams used kosher ingredients and utensils provided by the event organizers. Ari White’s Hakadosh BBQ, my favorite, won best brisket and took second place in both chicken and beef ribs. The 22 judges didn’t know who prepared which piece of meat.
"The competition this year was stellar! Marvin must be smiling down from above," White said, alluding to the death last week of the event’s main organizer, Marvin Rembo, who brought the contest to Long Island after experiencing a similar event in Kansas City.
Rembo created the event in part to draw attention to the issue of hunger on Long Island, said organizer Mike Glickman.
The festival, which drew about 3,000 attendees, is free and includes rides and food sold to raise money for various hunger-related Long Island charities such as Long Island Cares and Hatzilu Rescue Organization.
Most attendees who arrived an hour or two after the event opened found all they had to eat was the food that was for sale, as the teams’ food had all been gobbled up by earlier arrivals. Later comers could still sample goodies from sponsoring brands handing out pickles, sausages, hummus, Popchips and other treats.
"What we didn't realize was that there were over a dozen booths where the competitors were handing out samples of their goodies and by the time we got there, a lot of the food was gone!” said Melinda Strauss, who lives in the Five Towns area and is founder of the blog Kitchen-Tested.com. “We did get to try some incredible smoked brisket but if anyone got to the event after 1 p.m., there was definitely nothing left for them.”
The competitors helped each other, said first-time participant, Five Towns resident Barry Rubin, remarking that the camaraderie showed some real achdus, or Jewish unity, and team spirit.
“Long Island needs more kosher barbeque,” said Five Towns resident Denise Cohen-Kronfield.
To volunteer, participate, or follow up with the contest's organizers, visit their site: LIKOSHERBBQ.org.
Dani Klein is the founder of YeahThatsKosher.com, a global Jewish travel and kosher restaurant guide. Klein was named to the Jewish Week's inaugural '36 Under 36' list in 2008. Continue this discussion with Dani on Twitter @YeahThatsKosher