By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — Several celebrities and more than 1,500 barbecue fans — possibly from as far away as New York or Kansas — are expected to descend on the first Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship on Sunday, Oct. 25.
Officials hope this inaugural event will kick off an annual tradition. Free to the public, it takes place between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of Sunnyland Furniture, at the corner of Spring Valley and Coit roads in Dallas.
Some pertinent details:
The event will be hosted by author and Food Network star Simon Majumdar.
Officials with the world-renowned Kansas City Barbecue Society will sanction and judge the event.
A panel of celebrity judges will be on-site to conduct their own barbecue taste-tests and award unofficial prizes — separate from the actual competition.
Mendel Segal, popular Kansas City rabbi and kosher barbecue enthusiast, will be among the competitors.
The event will take place regardless of weather conditions.
“There’s a lot going on,” said Mike Precker, publicity coordinator for the event. “It took a lot to make this happen — and it’s really cool.”
The Men’s Club of Congregation Beth Torah in Richardson organized the championship, which benefits both the synagogue and Community Homes for Adults, Inc. — a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization which operates six group homes in Dallas for adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Men’s Club will provide competitors with all grills, smokers, utensils, condiments and spices. The four meats in competition will be chicken, turkey, beef brisket and beef ribs. There will be no pork whatsoever to ensure strict adherence to kosher dietary laws.
TV personality on site
The teams will prepare the meats Thursday night, then start cooking after sundown Saturday.
The event’s host, Simon Majumdar, is a British-born barbecue enthusiast and culinary expert. He appears frequently on the Food Network on shows including Cutthroat Kitchen, Best Thing I Ever Ate and Iron Chef America. He also is the author of Eating for Britain, Eat My Globe and Fed, White and Blue.
“People know he is coming to the event … and we expect lots of people to turn out to see him,” said Brian Rubenstein, co-chair of the championship.
Mendel Segal is an interesting participant in the Dallas event. He is executive director and rabbinic coordinator of Vaad HaKashruth of Kansas City, which certifies (in accordance with strict Jewish dietary laws) local companies that produce kosher products.
Rabbi Segal’s official brand and team name is “RaBBi-Q.”
The rabbi has been a mainstay at the Kansas Kosher BBQ Festival for a few years now. Along the way, he created such certified kosher products as RaBBi-Q’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce and Rub.
During a telephone interview, Rabbi Segal described his kosher barbecue cooking sideline as “a hobby gone crazy.”
He said he thinks of barbecue fans in Kansas City and Texas towns such as Dallas as kindred spirits.
“They’re both definitely barbecue towns,” he said.
The rabbi said he’s coming to have fun, to support the inauguration of a new kosher barbecue competition, and to try to get some support for his RaBBi-Q’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce and Rub products.
“Hopefully I can start getting them into more national stores,” he said.
Dallas Kosher will certify all supplies for this competition. DK is described as the oldest kosher certification outfit in the Southwest.
Dallas Kosher will supervise every aspect of the event, officials said.
The Grand Champion of the barbecue competition will receive a unique trophy — a 21-inch-wide heavy steel grill grate crafted by CA Creative Metals of Thousand Oaks, California especially for the inaugural Championship.
Again, the panel of celebrity judges will conduct their own barbecue taste-tests and award unofficial prizes to contestants.
Panel members include:
- Dotty Griffith, former dining critic and food editor of The Dallas Morning News.
- Stacy Fawcett, Channel 8 Daybreak show Favorite Foodie.
- Jody Dean, popular host of the morning show on KLUV-FM.
- Lee Kleinman, who represents District 11 on the Dallas City Council.
- Rich Hand, former pitcher for the Texas Rangers and current managing director of Fortune Asset Management Co.
Again, any awards presented by the celebrity panel will be considered separate from the actual competition.
Officials with the world-renowned Kansas City Barbecue Society will conduct the official judging for the championship in private.
“That process is all very locked down,” Rubenstein said. “The KCBS judges will be sequestered in a room.”
KCBS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue that sanctions over 450 barbecue contests around the world annually.
According to its website, “KCBS provides representatives for each contest and access to certified BBQ judges who have been trained in how to judge world-class barbecue, all while using a blind judging process that is fair and void of personal knowledge of teams being judged.”
Jennifer Shiflett, an official representative of KCBS, said during a phone interview that the amount of business KCBS gets sanctioning and judging these events proves that barbecue’s time really has come.
“It’s really taking off,” Shiflett said.
This fundraising event has been two and a half years in the making, explained Rubenstein. He added officials are hoping it will bring in a profit this year.
“We don’t have a technical goal this year, because of the unknowns and the up front costs,” Rubenstein said. “We’ll see how the event goes.”
The Oct. 25 first Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is free.
The daylong festivities will include the barbecue, music, cooking demonstrations, silent auctions, and a kids’ play area.
Again, the official judging will be closed to outsiders. Winners will be announced and trophies presented around 3:30 p.m.
Anyone with any additional questions can access www.dallaskosherbbq.com.
Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: The barbecue teams convene at Congregation Beth Torah, 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson, to prepare their meats. When finished, the meats will be placed in a refrigerated truck until Saturday night.
Saturday, Oct. 24: Dallas Kosher officials will light the fires for the barbecue teams after sundown — about 8:30 p.m. Many teams will immediately begin cooking. Some will be cooking all night.
Sunday, Oct. 25: The championship opens to the public at 10 a.m. There will be music, food, vendor booths, children’s play areas and cooking demonstrations.
The teams will turn in their four meats for judging — chicken, turkey, beef brisket and beef ribs — one at a time, at noon, 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. and at 1:30 p.m.
Winners will be announced and trophies presented around 3:30 p.m.
More info: www.dallaskosherbbq.com