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Last year, Madison Square Park announced it would no longer host the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, the largest annual barbecue event held in the New York metro area. At that time, it was expected the event would find a new home and a new format before 2019.
However, little information has been shared this year and many questions remain unanswered. Would the event return in 2019 in some form? Where would it be hosted? Would the same celebrity pitmasters from years past return?
Now, with summer fast approaching, some new information has come to light. The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party will not be held this summer at all, multiple sources close to the event have told NYC BBQ. The organizers are continuing to search for a new location and are leaving open the possibility for an event to happen in the fall. Then, if it does not happen in the fall, they are hoping to lock down a venue for a large 2020 event.
If you have seen event listings on Facebook or Google showing that the event is happening this summer (such as this), it is unfortunately false. I will continue to provide information as I hear more from the event’s organizers and those involved with it.
The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is one of the largest barbecue events in the nation and one of the largest events held annually in New York, so it is indeed disappointing that it has not found a new home a year after its last event. Many barbecue fans from NYC, other states, and even other countries plan trips to spend time in New York just so they can attend the event and now they have lost an annual reason to visit New York.
Dan Soloway, a culinary and event operations worker at the Big Apple Barbecue from 2011 to 2018 and a regular in NYC's BBQ scene, said he has many fond memories of the event over the years.
“The Block Party has been an amazing part of my life,” Soloway said. “I come from a fine-dining background, so it was very new to me to be working with pitmasters and helped me make amazing friends from around the country. They use the expression 'barbecue family' and now I have a barbecue family.”
Soloway said he is sad the event won't happen this summer from a personal level, but he also thinks from a high level that New York will be missing out on an important cultural event.
“It was more disappointing in that it's the sixth largest event in the city of New York, and to put that in perspective, the number one event is the ball drop in Times Square for New Year's Eve,” Soloway said. “The magnitude of this event is not just barbecue and not just a food festival. It's what the city needs. Some of the challenges you have to overcome to run an event like this could and should be made easier by the city.”
Soloway said he is hopeful that The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party can happen again, whether it is later this year or in summer 2020.
"Barbecue, now more than ever, has a place in the New York culinary landscape, and the newer generation of pitmasters are expanding the category," Soloway said. "I know folks are doing groundwork to find a location and secure the paperwork that goes with that. It's a combination of location, logistics, and the city of New York government agencies. Hopefully everybody realizes, after missing it this year, how valuable the event was to New York and the culinary landscape here."
On a final note, several other good barbecue events continue to happen in the New York metro area. Last night, hundreds of New York barbecue fans celebrated Rib King NYC, an exciting barbecue event in Brooklyn that I hope we will host again in the future. 10 pitmasters/chefs served some incredible beef, pork, and lamb ribs that impressed the crowd. I’ll be sharing a full recap with photos and highlights soon.
Founder, NYC BBQ
EAT ALL ABOUT IT
Here are the top BBQ and food stories in the New York area this week:
Earlier this week, the relatively new food hall Hill Country Food Park in Downtown Brooklyn closed without much warning. In a Facebook post, HCFP said the following: “While we have enjoyed stretching our culinary wings at Food Park, we have decided to focus on growing our other Hill Country restaurants and will be handing over the reins to a new operator, who will be curating a collection of exciting new food offerings from some very well-known hospitality brands planned for later this year.” The beloved bar Hank’s Saloon, which moved into the upstairs space at HCFP in January, will be kicked out of its space in June, so if you want to visit, be sure to stop by soon.
Blue Smoke executive chef and pitmaster Jean-Paul Bourgeois is leaving to pursue new ventures including food media. His last day is today, May 31, so if you’re reading this and want to stop by for one more round of Alabama white wings, this would be a good time. Bourgeois has had a significant positive impact on the direction of Blue Smoke’s menu since he started there in 2014. Bourgeois is among a group of long-time Union Square Hospitality Group staffers that are leaving.
The great New Jersey joint Kimchi Smoke had plans to open a new location called Kimchi Smoke KTX in Little Ferry, New Jersey, but those plans fell through. We’ll be in touch with the owner and pitmaster Robert Cho to see what is next for KTX.
Mighty Quinn's Barbeque co-owner and founder Hugh Mangum wrote an op-ed for Fast Casual about the state of barbecue and how more than a few states around the U.S. now have good barbecue.
The east side of Brooklyn's Prospect Park has acquired $80,000 in grilling equipment, so more people can publicly grill in the park, according to the Brooklyn Paper.
Want to know some good barbecue joints to try in Upstate New York? A new list of the 25 best BBQ restaurants upstate, ranked by Yelp, has been released.
New York was mentioned among major cities around the world where you can find great Texas barbecue outside of Texas, as written by J.C. Reid of The Houston Chronicle.
Here are the top BBQ (and related) food events coming soon to the New York metro area:
June 8: The NYC Bacon and Beer Classic 2019 will take place at the Brooklyn Mirage and will celebrate two of the best things in life: bacon and beer. Over 50 local restaurants will be serving bacon-inspired dishes and local breweries will be pouring over 100 craft beers. Buy tickets here.
June 21-23: The Saratoga Balloon and BBQ Festival will take place in, you guessed it, Saratoga, New York. The event will feature BBQ from six national vendors, and there will also be draft beers from New Belgium Brewery, spirits from Black Button Distilling, and more. In addition to BBQ, there will be hot air balloon launches, live entertainment, a kids zone, a festival marketplace, and more. More info here.
July 5-7: Just after the fourth of July, the I Love BBQ and Music Festival 2019 will be revving up in Lake Placid, New York. This is a large event that attracts barbecue enthusiasts from all around the Tri-state area. Not only are there Kansas City Barbeque Society competitions happening on-site, but there are also lots of food and drink vendors for the public to eat and drink well while watching lots of live music. More info here.
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.