Kosher BBQ: Are We in Kansas Anymore?
If you salivate at the thought of kosher barbecue and grill, now’s a great time to be alive — and to consume things that aren’t.
The Jewish community of Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, recently got their Midwestern neighbors scratching their heads with the community’s first annual Kosher Q, held on Sunday Aug. 19:
“All of the meat is slaughtered according to Jewish tradition and you won’t find any pork ribs on any of the smokers either. However, there was plenty of spicy trash talk between the guys from Chicago and Kansas Citians.
“They may know pizza, but they don’t know barbecue,” said Lawrence Langley of KCK.
David Weissman and Michael Dhaliwal say they’ve spent the past four months learning how to smoke meat and they believe their apricot glaze and other tidbits will set them above the rest.
“We were warned that if we come to this contest we have to know what we’re doing,” David Weissman of Chicago said.
It’s the latest development in the Kosher barbecue feats. Earlier in August, executive chef Ari White and his crew at Gemstone Catering set up an experimental week-long Texas Smokehouse BBQ Pop-Up Restaurant in New York City. This writer sampled the smoked brisket and was nearly reduced to tears with joy.
The event, which was initially shared with 150 of White’s Facebook friends, was ultimately attended by more than 3,000 people. And they came from far and wide.
“We had people drive in from as far as Vermont,” White told JTA. “One guy flew in on a private jet from Vegas and asked if we had any burnt ends,” he noted. While it wasn’t on the menu, White fulfilled the special request for the stranger, who had rented a Cadillac, had two bodyguards in tow and came to the Big Apple solely to fulfill this gastromic kosher quest.
The demand was so great that White, an El Paso native who lives with his family in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood, had to close shop for a day to restock and cook for the final day of the week-long experiment.
“You can’t microwave barbecue,” quipped White, a self-proclaimed “barbecue fanatic” who won a Kosher ribs competition in Long Island this summer. “It’s a 12 to 18 hour batch; there’s not shortcuts.”
After a forklift loaded an emergency 2,800 pound order into the back of his van, White managed to smoke a total of 5,000 pounds of meat in a week.
“Granted when you cook a brisket, you lose about 40% of the weight,” he added, estimating that about 3,500 pounds were left for consumption, bones and all.
One year after JTA covered the grand Memphis grill-off, I’m pleased to report that the state of kosher barbecue is well and good – and even medium-rare, if you like.