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New York's barbecue scene grows every year, with new restaurants, pitmasters, and ideas emerging seemingly every month. Part of what is elevating New York (and the Northeast generally) is national media attention on television, whether it's the Today Show featuring Pig Beach's Matt Abdoo, CBS This Morning spotlighting Mighty Quinn's Hugh Mangum, and other shows.
This past Tuesday, a new episode of the popular Food Network show Chopped aired, and it featured two of New York's top pitmasters, Chef Corey Cash of Cash Only BBQ and Chef Ed Randolph of Handsome Devil BBQ. Cash and Randolph were joined in the competition by Chef Laine Myers of Nota Bene in Richmond, Virginia and Chef Andrew Mercado of Underground by A-Game in New York.
If you haven't seen the show before, four chefs compete in three rounds to win $10,000. The three rounds of cooking are "Appetizer", "Entrée," and "Dessert." After each round, one chef is "chopped" until one wins. On Tuesday's episode, the competition was fierce, but both Cash and Randolph made it to the final round.
While it was a close call at the end, Randolph proved victorious and can now call himself a Chopped Champion. Randolph watched the show on Tuesday night with family and friends at a bar near where he lives in Newburgh, New York. He says he has been getting a lot of phone calls and texts of congratulations.
"By the time I got home from the watch party, I had 79 text messages," Randolph said. "The emails have been coming nonstop, from congratulations to people wanting to work together."
Randolph said he will donate half of his winnings to JDRF, which funds type 1 diabetes research. One of Randolph's children has type 1 diabetes, so the issue hits close to home. The other half will be donated to Operation BBQ Relief (OBR), which feeds people that have been affected by natural disasters. Randolph has worked as an OBR volunteer in the past and donated some proceeds from his book Smoked to OBR.
Randolph also said he hopes the appearance will help with his future goal of opening a brick-and-mortar barbecue restaurant.
"I'm looking here in the Hudson Valley," Randolph said. "With barbecue, all of our equipment is big and huge, so trying to find real estate that works for us is difficult."
Cash said the appearance on Chopped was worth his time and effort despite not winning.
"All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I'd do it again in a heartbeat," Cash said. "The day of the show, my social media was blowing up and I had to charge my phone five times from all the responses. It's still a nuthouse."
The last time we caught up with Cash, he was working on a bar and restaurant concept called Southbound BBQ that was going to help fill the hole from Cash Only BBQ in Williamsburg closing. Now those plans have changed because the people he was working with would not sign paperwork in order to put a handshake deal into writing, among several other large issues.
"I pulled out of the deal because the land owner was being shady," Cash said. "It got to the point where I was being worked over."
Cash currently is a chef at East Pole Fish Bar on the Upper East Side. He will still be competing and catering under the name Cash Only BBQ for the foreseeable future and just started selling his Cash Only BBQ sauce. At some point, he also hopes to eventually open his own revamped restaurant.
The show was filmed back in March, so both Cash and Randolph had to keep the results under wraps for a long time. Both Cash and Randolph said they were happy with how the episode itself turned out.
"I thought the episode was great, and me and Ed were represented very well," Cash said. "Looking back, there's always something different you could do in any situation, like getting some sleep the night before."
Randolph said he hopes the show helps amplify the presence of New York barbecue beyond what it is today.
"I'm hopeful that this helps validate us," Randolph said. "People don't think of barbecue when they think of New York. If anything, they think we are ... trying to smoke with our ovens and not do it right. We just had two guys go on the air and show that we can handle a grill, we can be creative, and we can make stuff that tastes good."
If you want to watch the full episode, you can view it here. It's a great watch, and I think you'll enjoy it.
Founder, NYC BBQ
EAT ALL ABOUT IT
Here are the top BBQ and food stories in the New York area this week:
Starting this Friday (July 12), Smorgasburg will expand once again and begin to host “Food Truck Fridays” this summer in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the corner of Kent Ave. and North 6th Street. Trucks there will include the great Carlito’s Barbecue Taqueria (who will be serving brisket, pork, and chicken tacos), as well as Burger Truck (burgers and Greek food), Divine Flavored (Nigerian food), and Jamrock Jerk (Jamaican cuisine). On July 12 only, drinks will be $4. On July 19, Groundlings Pizza (pizza, duh) and Nansense (Afghan comfort food) will be there as well.
Bon Appétit just put out a list of 100 of the top NYC restaurants, based on specific circumstances. The list only includes on American barbecue joint (Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook) but the creativity and realness of the scenarios is great. Two examples I love are “The Place When You’re Near Madison Square Garden and About to Just Give Up” and “The Place for Korean Barbecue Without the K-Town Crowds.”
It will not surprise you that just like New York, there are a ton of great burgers to be found in New Jersey. NorthJersey.com dining reporter Rebecca King just published a list of the 10 best burgers to be found in the Garden State.
Speaking of New Jersey’s best food, the intrepid food reporter Pete Genovese has released his list of the 25 best fried chicken spotsaround the state.
Last but not least, Hill Country Barbecue Market has launched a new online catering store so you can place a $100+ order in just a few clicks. Normally you'd need to talk to someone over the phone to place a huge order, so this is one of the easiest BBQ catering experiences I’ve seen in NYC.
Here are the top BBQ (and related) food events coming soon to the New York metro and the Tri-State area:
July 12-14: The New Jersey State Barbecue Championship will not only be about competition, but will also have live cooking demonstrations and music throughout the weekend. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the NJ champ will have the opportunity to compete at the American Royal later this year. Details about the weekend here.
July 17: If you love beer and burgers, you will not want to miss NYC Brewers Choice in Brooklyn. This all-inclusive event will feature outdoor space, sunset views, live music, and a ton of beer tastings. The main food event will be the famous "smash burgers" from George Motz, who makes some of the best fried onion burgers in the country. If you're looking for beer, 15 diverse small batch brewers will come together to celebrate local grains and malts and you'll be able to try them all. Buy tickets here.
August 16-18: When it comes to barbecue festivals north of New York, Hudson Valley Ribfest 2019 is one of the top events. RibFest will be held at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz and it will feature family activities, live music, and more. More info here.
August 24: One of the last summer barbecue events held in NYC is the Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, which is held annually at Pier 97 at Hudson River Park on the west side of Manhattan. Admission is free and there will be five different blues acts throughout the day and BBQ vendors selling grub. More info here.
September 7: For those that love all things pork and barbecue, the 10th annual Pig Island NYC will be a can’t-miss affair on Saturday, September 7. Held outdoors at beautiful Erie Basin Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this all-inclusive event will feature a ton of great food, beer, cider, and liquor. I’m already hungry for it all. Buy early bird tickets here.
September 7: The USA TODAY Wine & Food Experience will be taking place on September 7 at LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park. Attendees will be able to taste, savor, and explore the Brooklyn culinary scene, from local trends to regional traditions. Chefs and speakers include Antoni Porowski (Queer Eye), Alex Guarnaschelli (Chopped), and Dom De Marco (Di Fara Pizza). Buy tickets here.
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