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Earlier this year, many New York barbecue fans were shocked to hear that the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party — NYC's biggest and longest running barbecue event — would not be happening in 2019. But as this is New York, there are many events where barbecue and meat lovers can get their fill.
One such event is the 10th annual edition of Pig Island, which is coming up on September 7 at Erie Basin Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Pig Island 2019 will feature tons of all-you-can-eat pork creations and plenty of hard cider, beer, wine, and spirits. It will be one of the largest barbecue events in New York this year and a great way to close out the summer.
Early bird ticket sales end on August 15, so make sure you get tickets before then. Tickets are all-inclusive so you don't have to pay for anything once you are inside.
Pig Island started in 2010 as a pork-focused event on Governors Island, where the hook was the chefs would use locally sourced pigs to make their dishes. While the scenery was nice, this location provided a logistical challenge, as it's hard to transport food and equipment to the island. The event moved to Red Hook, Brooklyn in 2013 to make transportation easier for chefs and guests, but it has preserved the tradition of using local pig farms to source most of the meat served.
"It's a big deal that the event has kept going this long, but our one constant is that we still buy pigs from farmers." Pig Island event producer Jimmy Carbone, head of Food Karma Projects, said. "For the past few years, we've had Flying Pigs Farm as our main farmer and that has worked out well."
The event added barbecue pitmasters and smokers to the mix in 2016, and the event has transformed to include a healthy dose of barbecue. Pitmasters including Hometown Bar-B-Que's Billy Durney, Robert Austin Cho of Kimchi Smoke, and Arrogant Swine's Tyson Ho have served pork barbecue including ribs and whole hog over the years at the event.
"Billy Durney was one of the first chefs to do barbecue with us," Carbone said. "Before that, it was a more of mix of restaurants and chefs around around the city with a culinary focus. We've always had a wide range of chefs. "
The full lineup of chefs and pitmasters that will be serving food at the event includes:
Tank Jackson, Holy City Hogs, South Carolina
Ed Randolph, Handsome Devil BBQ, New York
Phil Wingo, Pork Mafia, Chicago
Carl Ruiz and Mario Chape, La Cubana, New York
Rodrigo Duarte, Caseiro e Bom, New Jersey
Roxanne Spruance, Judge on The History Channel's The Butcher, New York
Jason Fox, Hudson and Charles, New York
Chef Jesse Jones, New Jersey
Humberto Guallpa, Freemans Restaurant, New York
Matthew Worgul, Gentle Giant Brewing and Barbecue, New York
Cenobio Canalizo and Eric Springer, Morgan's Brooklyn Barbecue, New York
Jeff Lutonsky and Meghan Love, Mable's Smokehouse, New York
Corey Cash, Cash Only BBQ, New York
Billy Kooper, Route 66 Smokehouse, New York
Jase Franklin, Jase BBQ, New York
Thomas Perone, The Pig Guy, New York
Danny Mena, La Loncheria, New York (Mena will also be promoting his newest cookbook, Made in Mexico: The Cookbook: Classic And Contemporary Recipes From Mexico City.)
On top of the food, there will also be a ton of drink options. This will include Sixpoint Brewery (Brooklyn), Kopparberg Cider (Sweden), Eden Cider (Vermont), Austin Eastciders (Texas), King's Highway Cider (New York), Knob Creek Bourbon, Laphroaig Scotch, Our/NY Vodka, ESP Gin, NY Distilling, Mezcal De Leyenda, Old York Farm Distillery, and Breuckelen Distilling.
There will be live music from Dusty Wright & The Bush Hogs, who have been rocking out at previous Pig Island, Brisket King, and Rib King events. "This will be their fourth Pig Island, and they are great because they will play throughout and they jam along with judges announcements," Carbone said.
Like many of the previous Food Karma Projects events, there will be celebrity judges on site who will taking notes and handing out awards at the end. This year's judges include former Blue Smoke pitmaster Jean-Paul Bourgeois, meat writer Nick Solares, radio host Gennaro Pecchia, food photographer Jill Rittymanee, former Big Brother contestant and bacon expert Adam Poch, food influencer Dara Pollack (aka The Skinny Pig), Campfire Group co-founder Ethan Fedida, radio host and entertainer William ‘Brimstone” Kucmierowski, and radio host and entertainer Steve ‘Zambo’ Zambito.
"This year, we have a few set categories like Best Whole Hog, Best In Show, Best Sausage, and a few others, but some of them are determined based on what the chefs bring," Carbone said. "Some of the fun is pitting our new barbecue guys versus some of our past champions. The Best Hog showdown this year between Tank Jackson and Rodrigo Duarte will be one to watch."
If you didn't already have enough reasons to attend, the event's community and charitable partner will be Friends of Firefighters, which provides counseling and wellness services to active and retired New York City firefighters and their families.
I look forward to pigging out at Pig Island 2019 and hope to see you all there!
Founder, NYC BBQ
EAT ALL ABOUT IT
Here are the top BBQ and food stories in the New York area this week:
The Hell’s Kitchen barbecue joint Southern Hospitality BBQ, which opened in 2011 and was known for being associated with Justin Timberlake, closed its doors for good late last week. Barbecue fans in the city had long considered it to be an average BBQ restaurant, but it was often busy and had large crowds on the weekends. For a moment, the restaurant had a surge in quality thanks in part to some changes by the talented chef Jeff Gebott. However, Gebott left SH in late 2018 to be with his family in Colorado. Then it took another hit in January when 32-year-old assistant manager Mark Baljeet (who had helped remodel the joint and improve service and bar quality) passed away in his sleep. Gebott told me yesterday that he attributes the closing primarily to "big rent and a declining neighborhood with many empty storefronts."
While we have a little more than a month of summer left, there’s still time to get some good grilling in. Elizabeth Karmel, founding Executive Chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market, has published a list of the top nine grilling mistakes and how to fix them.
Speaking of Hill Country Barbecue Market, the New York Times spotted Lester Holt, the popular NBC News anchor, playing in a rock band at Hill Country in Manhattan.
If you need to get a really good burger in New Jersey, look no further than Stuffed Grassfed Burgers in Montclair. The restaurant's burger was named the best in NJ from among the 21 best burgers in Jersey, rated by NorthJersey.com.
Here are the top BBQ (and related) food events coming soon to the New York metro and the Tri-State area:
August 15: The Thrillist Savor the Summer event will feature BBQ and other joints from around NYC at Pier A Harbor House on Thursday, August 15. You can come and judge some of NYC’s best bites, sip on drinks, see live music and more. Vendors include Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue, The Nugget Spot, Black Iron Burger, Ho’Brah Tacos, and Schaller's Stube Sausage Bar. 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. 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.
September 20-22: The Oinktoberfest 2019 event in Clarence, New York (outside of Buffalo) is the longest continuously running barbecue competition and festival in New York State. It attracts many competition teams and also features music and food for families who want to hang out. Admission on Saturday and Sunday is $8/person. More info here.
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