Long Island Kosher BBQ Festival Draws Thousands

    Kosher Barbecue Championships Grand Champs from Atlanta, GA.
Kosher Barbecue Championships Grand Champs from Atlanta, GA.

Thousands of people descended on Westbury last weekend to cheer on nearly two dozen competitors vying for the top spot in the Long Island Kosher Barbecue Championship and Kosher Food Festival.

BBQ fans came hungry for the second-annual festival, which featured competitions in a number of categories, including best ribs, beans, chicken and brisket. Competitors even battled for booth decoration and best team name.

“Your own creativity is the limit,” said Michael Glickman, a volunteer from Temple Beth Torah, where the festive crowd gathered to visit multiple tents of delicious kosher barbecue foods.

Ten of the 22 teams were Long Islanders, while others grill-masters came from as far away as Georgie and Florida for the competition. The field of competitors was made up of first timers and veterans, such as Eric Devlin, who helps run barbecue events across LI.

“The important thing is, it’s all fun,” said Jay Hack, of White Plains. “Technically it’s a competition, but everybody helped everybody else.”

Hack, who considers himself a “fantastic tailgater,” was making his first foray into the Kosher barbeque competition after hearing about it at his local synagogue. Those attending the festival raved about his marinated barbeque pineapple and deep-fried motzah balls.

Teams began to cook and set up their tents Saturday evening and worked through the night. All of the materials—utensils, meats, ingredients and barbecue grill—were provided by the temple to ensure that they were kosher.

Live entertainment from a local Jewish music groups filled the air as folks made their way to the barbecue team competition tents.

Competitors put their talents on display in front of Kansas City Barbeque society judges, kosher cooks, food jockeys and two celebrity judges, sports broadcaster Len Berman and competitive eater Don “Moses” Lerman.

When the grilling was complete, the judges tallied up the points and named, Grillin Tefillin from Atlanta, Ga., the Grand Champions.

This festival was dedicated to Temple Beth Torah Marvin Rembo, who had died less than a week before the event, which he lobbied for last year.

Canned foods and a portion of the proceeds were donated to local charities to support hunger relief on Long Island.

Fairway Market, Mid Island Animal Hospital, Long Island Cares and M’Yad L’Yad (Long Island’s Helping Hands) sponsored the festival.