Izzy's BBQ Addiction brings Texas-style flavor to kosher meat.
Growing up in Midwood, Brooklyn, the Eidelman brothers ate a lot of meat. Their mother, Sara, an accomplished cook, was born in Israel to Holocaust survivor parents whose budget didn’t often allow for such a luxury, and when Sara had her boys, she wanted to give them all she could.
“She used to buy us filet mignon,” Sruly Eidelman, now 26 and living in Crown Heights, said.
As a result of their carnivorous diet, Sruly and his brother became young men who were pretty into meat. From that beginning at his mother's table, Eidelman — known as Izzy to his non-Jewish friends — has become the force behind Izzy's BBQ Addiction, a Texas-style kosher barbecue spot that he’s currently running as a pop-up.
About once a week, Eidelman, who has a day job in quality control at a custom cabinetry company, rises before dawn, heads down to his parents’ place in Midwood, and loads his two smokers there: with brisket, with beef ribs, with chicken or whatever else he feels like. As he’s cooking, he posts the menu on his Facebook page, and orders — mostly from his friends and family, at this point — begin pouring in. When the meat is ready — sometimes up to 16 hours later — Eidelman loads up his car and makes his deliveries, mostly in the Crown Heights area.
“Here I can cook up to 40 or 50 pounds of meat at a time,” Eidelman said, pointing to the two bullet-shaped smokers that he loads with charcoal and hickory, cooking the meat over slow, indirect heat and steam. Though his menu varies, he’s got a few staples: dry-cured pastrami and brisket, rubbed with “salt and pepper and other secret spices;” smoky beef ribs; and chopped pulled brisket, which he mixes with his specialty barbecue sauce: a hybrid of a Memphis- and Kansas City-styles, he said, made with brown sugar, cayenne, and real maple syrup.
The business has its origins in a the brothers' love of the show “BBQ Pitmasters” — then airing on the Discovery channel — and they wondered, when seeing the juicy, flavorful meat and all the fun that went into making it, why the style of barbecue was never applied to kosher meat.
Today, Eidelman is a bonafide BBQ expert — a non-kosher Jewish reporter found his rich, tender meats to be startlingly similar in flavor and texture to their treif counterparts — but it wasn’t an easy road. After all, a year ago, Eidelman was a complete novice, having never tasted barbecue before. Luckily for Eidelman, he found Ari White, the El Paso, Texas-born chef and owner of Wandering ‘Que, a kosher barbecue company that also “pops up” around New York City, at synagogues and Jewish cultural centers as well as at barbecue competitions and street fairs. Eidelman’s barbecue education began the moment he headed uptown and tried a bite of White’s ‘que.
“I absolutely loved those flavors,” Sruly said. “I thought, ‘This has to become part of my life.’”
A year — and many dog-eared cookbooks — later, Izzy’s BBQ Addiction is a huge part of his life. With the work he pours into it in addition to his job, Eidelman ends up working 70-80 hours per week. But, he said, it’s all worth it.
“I think that this kind of food is something that is missing from the Jewish cuisine,” he said. “It’s simple and it’s hearty,” he said, adding that while there are a handful of great kosher restaurants in the city, there are few that have the down-home, easygoing atmosphere that barbecue lends itself to. To that end, Eidelman is currently seeking a brick-and-mortar home for his company, ideally in the Crown Heights area, where many of his young foodie friends live.
He's not the only young religious foodie dreaming of restaurant glory. Itta Werdiger-Roth, who used to run a kosher supper club out of her home in Ditmas Park, opened Mason and Mug, a small plates restaurant, in Prospect Heights. Yuda Schlass runs a similar pop-up out of his Crown Heights home, and is also scouting real estate in the hope of hanging out his shingle.
“I want this to be a place where you can sit down, order a great craft beer, listen to some bluegrass music and talk with your friends,” Eidelman said. “And I think that more Jews need to try this kind of food.”
After all, there’s not all that much separating great barbecue from the long-cooking, deeply-flavored foods that Jewish cuisine has long been known for.
“It’s all about taking cheap cuts of meat and turning them into something delicious,” Eidelman said.
For more information or to place an order, visit the Izzy's BBQ Addiction Facebook page.