Thursday, April 30, 2009

Philadelphia Kosher Barbecue Competition – June 7, 2009

If you’re looking for some good outdoor cooking, make plans to attend Hava NaGrilla at Willow Grove Day Camp in Hatboro, PA (outside of Philadephia).

There are very few kosher barbecue events across the nation, and this is the first time for Hava NaGrilla. Organizers heard about an Orthodox Synagogue in Memphis, Tennessee holding a similar event as an alternative to Memphis in May. It seemed like a good idea to try it in the Philadelphia area even though folks in the northeast generally don’t get as wound up about barbecue as folks in other parts of the country.

Actually, the categories are beans, briskets, chicken, ribs, so barbecue aficionados in some parts of the country would argue that it’s a grill competition rather than a barbecue blow out. But, hey, it’s all good. If northerners want to call anything off the grill “barbecue,” that’s fine by me especially if it’s tasty.

The Kansas City Barbecue Association is not so flexible. As Howard Levin, Chief Rib-bi, notes, “The biggest issue is our inability to be sanctioned by KCBS because we do not have a ‘pork’ category.” OK. I give the thumbs up and say, “Pass the barbecue beans.” I’m in pork barbecue country too, but I would gladly join Levin with a big plate of beef ribs (his favorite).

The 1st annual Hava NaGrilla is open to anyone who’d like to check it out. Tickets are $5 per person and $20 for families. It’s a great way to learn about another culture (if you’re not Jewish) and have a fun day to boot.

In addition to all the barbecue (or grilled) food, they have contests and activities for everyone. You can watch a kosher grilling demonstration by Chef Thomas Macrina, exectuvie chef of the Desmond Hotel, enter the kosher pickle eating contest, or try your hand at the rubber chicken toss. There’s also a raffle for a mini Cooper. Sweet.

You don’t have to be Jewish to enter, but you do need to follow the rules of Kashrut. When you’re talking about the culture, heritage, and religious beliefs of a community, you better get it right. If you think that kosher pickles were blessed by the Pope in Rome, then you’ve got a lot of research to do and would learn more and have more fun just attending and leaving the food up to the experts.

Levin says that they are working really hard to get everything together and to get the word out. The first time is always the hardest, but it can be the most fun too. Grill Girl would love to take a road trip, but that’s a long haul to Philadelphia. Hopefully folks will check in and let me know how it goes.

Best of luck on the brand new barbecue competition!

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