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Temple Beth Torah Hosts First Long Island Kosher Barbecue Championship

Cook-off benefited hunger relief programs

Hunger knows no boundaries and that is why, on Sunday, June 10, Temple Beth Torah played host to a first-of-its-kind event in the New York area: a kosher barbecue championship. Created as a community event to raise proceeds for, and awareness of, hunger relief charities on Long Island, the day’s activities combined serious barbecue along with family, fun and entertainment. The Barbecue Championship, which attracted close to 2,500 visitors, was the culmination of 10 months of planning and hard work by nearly 125 temple members. This effort was backed by the financial support of many local businesses, TBT families and Fairway Market, which served as the title sponsor.

On hand to kick off the event were Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who both took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The elected officials welcomed guests and spoke about the importance of bringing the communities together and helping those faced with hardships and hunger on Long Island. Also on-site were officials and staff from the five hunger relief charities selected as beneficiaries of this year’s event: Long Island Cares, The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), Hatzilu, Rock Can Roll and M’Yad L’Yad.

Modeled after the cooking contests often seen on the Food Network and inspired by the ASBEE World Kosher Barbecue Championship in Memphis, now in its 24th year, the LI Kosher Barbecue Championship attracted 17 teams with entrants from as far away as Miami and Atlanta. The teams were all competing to take home trophies in five categories including Best Ribs, Best Brisket, Best Beans, Most Original Team Name and Best Booth Decoration. The judging panel featured an impartial roster of 23 culinary experts—authors, food bloggers, professional chefs and caterers as well as six Kansas City-certified barbecue experts—all of whom volunteered their time and skills to judge whose barbecue was best. Teams with names like The Grillin’ Tefillin, Magillah Grillers, Macher Meats and BarB Jews fought overnight rain and lack of sleep to ensure that their meats were properly marinated and that their smokers and grills were at the optimum temperature for the competition.

Beyond the top-notch barbecue, the public was treated to an array of family fun activities and events throughout the day ranging from a kid’s play zone with inflatable rides, to live music performed by Jericho’s own “A’s & J’s” band in the park next door. The spirit of competition didn’t end there as attendees had the opportunity to compete in pickle and hot dog eating contests, as well as a basketball three-point shooting contest sponsored by the New York Knicks.  Guests were also able to purchase an assortment of traditional barbecue fare ranging from pulled barbecue brisket sliders to hot dogs and knishes, all prepared and served by temple congregants in the “Cowsher Café.”

The day concluded with the awards ceremony recognizing winners in each barbecue category read by Adam Miller, director at Fairway Market and Marvin Rembo, the event’s organizer. After the smoke had cleared and the judging results tabulated, “The MOB: Mavens of Barbecue,” a team representing Congregation Ohav Sholom of Merrick and first-time contestants, took home the title of grand champion. As further proof that good barbecue doesn’t require years of practice but just good taste buds, Richard Rothstein, president of Temple Beth Torah and family took home third prize in the Best Brisket category, marking a successful end to their first barbecue competition.

Summing up the day’s event, Rembo closed the award ceremony by thanking all those that made the event a success. Those receiving praise included sponsors like Fairway, the teams, judges, Nassau County and especially all the members of Temple Beth Torah who contributed their expertise and time before, during and after the event.