Oct. 30 event drawing ‘interest from around the country’
By Mike Precker
Special to the TJP
Bigger and better in its second year, the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship returns Oct. 30 — well on its way to a double-edged goal.
“We’ve put Dallas on the kosher barbecue map, and we’re drawing interest from around the country,” says Brian Rubenstein, co-chair of the championship. “And we’re proudly establishing this event as a prominent date on the Dallas Jewish calendar.”
The Men’s Club of Congregation Beth Torah established the event last year, drawing nine teams and more than 1,000 people — on a rainy weekend.
“We’re guaranteeing better weather this time,” Rubenstein said.
The competition will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30, in the parking lot of Sunnyland Patio Furniture, at the corner of Spring Valley and Coit roads in Dallas. The daylong festivities will include music, vendors, cooking demonstrations, silent auctions, a kids play area, hot dog and pickle-eating contests — and, of course, plenty of barbecue.
Admission is free. But unlike the Kosher Chili Cook-off– which charges admission (to raise money for local charities) but dispenses complimentary mini-cups of chili — there’s no free barbecue.
“We’ll have barbecue for sale and you can buy a VIP tasting ticket,” Rubenstein said. “We’ll have a ton of activities, and it’s great to hang out with the teams and talk barbecue. But there’s no way they can make enough to pass out samples.”
That’s because this is a formal competition, judged by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, which bills itself as the world’s biggest bunch of barbecue enthusiasts and sanctions hundreds of smoking and grilling contests around the country each year. With the increasing popularity of kosher barbecue, KCBS is making it into a separate competitive category.
The main difference is obvious: no pork. But there are other distinctions. To ensure adherence to kashrut, the Men’s Club provides all grills, smokers, utensils, condiments and spices — as well as the four meats in competition: chicken, turkey, beef brisket and beef ribs.
To preserve the Sabbath, teams will gather at Beth Torah on Thursday night to prepare the meats, which are sealed in a refrigerated truck. It’s opened after sundown Saturday night, when the fires are lit and the teams start working their magic. Mashgiachs from Dallas Kosher are on hand constantly to ensure everything is done right.
Once the gates open Sunday, KLUV radio host and Texas Radio Hall of Famer Jody Dean will serve as master of ceremonies. An unofficial competition with its own set of prizes will be judged by a celebrity panel that includes Richard Chamberlain, owner of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House, Channel 8 traffic reporter Marlene Hilton, former Texas Rangers pitching coach Larry Hardy, and renowned food writers Richard Pollak and Amy Kritzer.
Barbecue competitions of all kinds tend to feature team names with groan-inducing puns. Last year’s list included Chop Quey, Texas Jew Step, and Uncle Mordy and the MEATzvah Girls.
“My own favorite is the Dukes of Chazer, who won the Kansas City championship in August,” Rubenstein said. “I hope they’ll come down here, too.”
Part of the proceeds from the Dallas championship benefit CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.), which provides group homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. For more information, log on to www.dallaskosherbbq.com.
“We had a great time and a great crowd last year, and we’ve applied what we learned to outdo ourselves this time,” Rubenstein said. “It’s going to be a great day for kosher barbecue.”