By Deb Silverthorn
The pitmasters of the Seventh Annual Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship will come together from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 outside Sunnyland Outdoor Living in North Dallas.
“It’s going to be an incredible day of goodness, fun and togetherness,” said Championship Event co-Chair Brian Rubenstein of the Men’s Club of Congregation Beth Torah, which along with Jewish Family Service is sponsoring the event. “Last year we sold more than 200-pounds of meat at our drive-thru but we missed being together, celebrating the sport of barbecue and the sense of community.”
Thirteen teams will compete in the event, which is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 20,000 members.
“This contest is incredible, and the organizers are a great bunch,” said Scott Spray, who with his wife, Debbie, are KCBS representatives. “Our mission is to be sure teams know the rules and that all are on an even playing field.”
“We have learned so much about [kashrut] and the respect everyone involved in the Dallas event has,” said Debbie Spray. “From the unique schedule to the foods that the teams will be making, it’s a well-orchestrated contest that is truly magical.”
The cooks set on creating masterpieces of beef ribs, brisket, chicken and turkey, will be judged by KCBS certified judges as well as a celebrity panel that includes Kosher Guru Gabriel Boxer, Cattleack Barbeque’s Todd David, cookbook author and co-founder of IQUE BBQ Andy Husbands, and Danielle Bennett as “Diva Q,” an expert barbecue judge, competitor, author and television personality.
To ensure that all foods and tools meet kashrut standards as set by Dallas Kosher, participants are provided the meats, seasonings, spices, condiments and utensils. The DK team supervises the program from the delivery of goods Thursday evening, cooking which begins after dark Saturday night, through the close of the event.
The band Counterfeit Radio will entertain at the free event that features a silent auction, vendors and a children’s play area with a Nerf outdoor playground and inflatable fun sponsored by the Frisco RoughRiders and A.R.S.E.N.A.L. mobile Nerf battlefield. Carter BloodCare will be on-site accepting blood donations and Jewish Family Service will host a food drive.
“Last year, even with the drive-thru, supporters shared almost 600 pounds of canned food for the Food Pantry,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker. “Donations of nonperishable food will help to support hundreds of families and we’re honored that Beth Torah’s Men’s Club has chosen JFS as a beneficiary again and we thank them for being a partner in hunger relief.”
Drinks and food by former event champion E&J Carolina BBQ will be available for sale. Organizers hope next year to return event favorites including the People’s Choice awards, the pickle and Texas Jewish Post hot dog eating contests, the Elliott’s Hardware Kids-Que contests and cooking demonstrations.
Dr. Ellis Shwarts, a Richardson dentist and the 2019 reigning champion, and his team hope their recipe of of four simple ingredients, will bring them another trophy.
“Each of the four meats cooks differently. Our recipes aren’t fancy but somehow the chemistry makes it work. It’s the trim, the fire control and just the right amount of seasoning,” said Shwarts. “We’re happy to be back in person.”
Halal Pitmasters, first-time entrants, whose team members are Muslim, follow religious dietary orders which can allow kosher-certified meat to be accepted as halal. Because the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship does not include pork in their menu, the group is able to participate.
Dr. Zahid Ahmad, a UT Southwestern Medical Center endocrinologist who first learned to cook from his mother, has, with the help of an international Muslim community of enthusiasts taken the art of barbecue to a new level. He attended a previous event by Dallas Kosher at the invitation of one of his nurses, Claudia Quittner, a member of the Jewish community. He and his teammates were hooked.
“We tried to sign up before but there were too many teams. We got in early for 2020 and, when it was canceled, our registration was held for this year and now, we’re ready to go,” said Ahmad, a New Orleans native whose family roots, and much of his cooking palate, are Pakistani. “We’re excited and learning as we go along.”
In person and outside, the flavors of community are coming together.
“DK is privileged to be a part of the event planning and we look forward to everything from the trimming and prepping of the meats to the smoking that begins after Shabbos. I’m so glad we can again invite the community to come out for this fun and exciting event,” said Dallas Kosher Director of Supervision Rabbi David Shawel. “I hope that the merit of the achdus, the coming together of our community for such a wonderful kosher event, will help drive this plague we’ve been fighting away.”
For more information, visit dallaskosherbbq.com. To register for the Carter BloodCare blood drive visit tinyurl.com/DALLAS-KOSHER-BBQ-BLOOD-DRIVE.