BBQ fever is taking the country. Jewish communities all across the country are gathering their carnivorous men and women to dedicate a Sunday to the precious and delicate, low-and-slow art of the perfectly smoked brisket. Whether you’re looking for your local BBQ festival, or want to plan your summer road trip around Jewish BBQ events, then you’ve come to the right place.
This guide outlines the 12 BBQ events (two are taking place in Cincinnati, OH) that will be hosted by Jewish communities this summer. Five of them are officially sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, which means they are held to the highest standards of judging and follow the same format as traditional BBQ circuit events.
1. St. Louis Kosher BBQ Cookoff
June 25, 2017 – KCBS Sanctioned
After attracting more than 500 visitors in its first year, Congregation Nusach Hari B’nai Zion is proudly hosting its second annual BBQ competition in June. St. Louis offers cash prizes for the Grand Champion and the winners of each category. The St. Louis competition attracts teams from across the country, with a team called “Five Dudes and a Vegetarian” representing Chicago and one called “SephardiQ” representing Kansas City.
2. Cincinnati River City Kosher BBQ Cultural Event and Cincinnati Kosher BBQ Cook-off
June 25, 2017, August 6, 2017 – Sanctioned,
Cincinnati is playing host to not one but two BBQ events this summer. The first, taking place on June 25th, is the Inaugural River City Kosher BBQ Cultural Event, a perfect chance to enjoy brisket and chicken without the competition. All proceeds from the River City Kosher BBQ Festival will support Northern Hills Synagogue and the community projects it supports. The second event for Cincinnati is the Cincinnati Kosher BBQ Cook-off and Festival, the city’s first foray into the competitive kosher BBQ circuit. Like St. Louis, the Cincinnati cook-off is offering cash prizes to winning teams. There are also opportunities to sign up to judge the event for those who can commit to becoming KCBS-certified.
3. Columbus Kosher Buckeye BBQ
August 20, 2017
The third annual Columbus Buckeye Kosher BBQ may be the only kosher-certified BBQ festival to feature a rock-climbing wall and inflatable obstacle course. Award-winning pit master Max McGarity will be selling ribs, drumsticks, chili and more. Musical guest Bill Foley, will provide entertainment. This event is a celebration of kosher BBQ, but it’s not a competition.
4. Philadelphia Hava Nagrilla Smoke BBQ Festival
August 27, 2017 – Sanctioned
The Hava Nagrilla Festival, Philadelphia’s first sanctioned BBQ event, is hosted by Men’s Club of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El and will include live music, a pickle-eating contest, balloon artists and mechanical bull riding. The event will also feature a craft beer garden. Ari White of Wandering Que, and the 2016 Brisket King of NYC will be offering Texas Style BBQ for purchase. James Beard award-winning chef, Alon Shaya from New Orleans will also make an appearance as a guest judge.
5. Las Vegas JCC BBQ
September 4, 2017
The Las Vegas BBQ Festival, hosted by the JCC of Southern Nevada, is in its fifth year. As at the Memphis competition, food is not the only thing being judged. Best team name and best booth are also up for the taking. Of particular note is that children ages 7-12 can compete in the Kids Que competition where teams will be judged on their ability to make, form and cook hamburgers.
6. Charlotte Kosher BBQ Championship
September 4, 2017
The Charlotte Kosher BBQ Championship features a BBQ festival, pickle-eating contest, watermelon-eating contest, live music and concessions from Sauceman’s Bar and Grill available for purchase. In addition, the event is asking guests to donate two cans of food for the Jewish Family Services Pantry.
7. Kansas City Kosher BBQ Festival
September 10, 2017 – KCBS Sanctioned
The Kansas City festival, now in its sixth year, attracts upward of 4,000 visitors each year. As one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. for BBQ, Kansas City has risen to fame for its dedication to “Burnt Ends” which are made from the ends of smoked brisket, smoked on hickory wood and served with a liberal amount of a tomato-based BBQ sauce. In previous years, Kansas City has played host to celebrity judge, Simon Majumdar, of Food Network’s Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen.
8. Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival
October 22, 2017
The fifth annual Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival is hosted by the Hebrew Order of David International and raises funds for charitable causes. Last year, the festival hosted 25 teams.
9. Memphis 29th Annual World Kosher Barbecue Championship
October 22, 2017
Memphis holds the title for hosting the oldest Kosher BBQ festival in the nation. Now in its 29th year, the Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth Congregation will take place on October 22nd. Trophies will be awarded for the Overall Grand Champion and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the following categories: Best Beef Brisket, Best Beef Ribs, Best Team Name, Best Team Booth and Best Beans. Memphis style BBQ typically focuses on heavy smoking and dry rubs. In this part of the country, BBQ is either served “wet” with a sweet, tangy BBQ sauce or “dry” to emphasize the flavor that goes into the spice rub.
10. Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship
October 29, 2017 – Sanctioned
Now in its third year, the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship is hosted by Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club and will take place in October.
11. San Antonio, Texas Kosher BBQ Championship™
November 12, 2017
And the last kosher BBQ event of 2017 will be taking place in Sant Antonio, TX. This event is actually the only Kosher BBQ Festival to include a fish, as well as the traditional brisket and chicken categories. Teams will also be judged on their baked beans.In true Texas style, belt buckles will be awarded to winners. Entertainment will include live music and a Kiddie Corral.