Competition barbecue is some serious business, with dedicated meat men and women hauling a literal ton of equipment from Memphis to New York City to Bentonville to Lynchburg with hopes of capturing the title, and a possible five-figure payday. But when it comes to these competitive barbecue festivals and contests, there are more certifying organizations than those that ruled heavyweight boxing in the '80s and pro wresting in the '90s — combined. Like the Avignon popes, the world of barbecue has experienced its share of schisms and disagreements, but most of these divisions have been formed to feature a particular regional style of cooking or specific meats being smoked over a wood fire. Frankly, that can get a little short-sighted. Enter two events debuting this fall that take a more holistic approach to showcasing the exciting world of meat cookery.
ICC Smoke Barbecue Competition, New York City
ICC is the International Chef Congress, an annual multi-day gathering of restaurant industry workers organized by Star Chefs. Events include chef-studded panels (Danny Bowien, Bryan Voltaggio and April Bloomfiled are booked to speak this year), as well as tasting events and plenty of late-night activities best left unprintable. But this year the organizers have taken a major step to open the festivities to the non-industry with their first “public” event (up until this point tickets were only sold to restaurant works and media). And boy does it look like a good one.
On September 28, 10 competition barbecue teams will travel to New York’s Pier 57 from Texas, Vermont, New Jersey and New Orleans to compete in four categories: New World, Regional American, Asian and People’s Choice. Tickets (a lean $65) include the opportunity to taste (and judge) world class BBQ from 10 of the competing teams and two beers. And the teams are pretty stellar, including Guerrilla Ultima BBQ (Philadelphia), Stand Up and Snout (New Orleans) and Atlanta's Peach Tree Players. Jason Dady — a certified Food Republic Grilling God — will also throws his hat into the competition.
Meatopia is an annual tradition that we in the food writing/meat eating game look forward to — chefs from around the country coverage to celebrate primals and offal, barbecue and braising. But this year, the event’s ringleader Josh Ozersky has upped the game considerably by moving on from New York to organize events in two new cities. An event in London goes down next weekend and, if we had more frequent flier miles, we’d be there. Fergus Henderson, a whole-animal master, is scheduled to cook. Which alone is worth the trip.
But on a more practical level, there is two-day event San Antonio in November — billed Meatopia Texas — that you might want to get yourself to. On Saturday, November 2, the Gilded Age tradition of the beefsteak kicks off the two-day festival with Tim Byres from Smoke in Dallas, The Granary’s Tim Rattray and Mike Toscano from Perla in New York City collaborating to grill some of the “rarest, most celebrated ultra-prime beef in the world,” according to Ozersky.
Sunday brings the main event, an insane roster of meat specialists cooking beef, pork, veal, chicken, duck, quail, bison and “many other animals.” Ha. These chefs include Paul Qui, Joey Campanaro, Ford Fry, Chris Shepherd, Adam Perry Lang and John Tesar. Tickets to the beefsteak are $100 and $75 gets you a lot of meat on Sunday. You can buy those here.