News & Schmooze: Kosher ‘cuing

As part of the Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Community Night at Busch Stadium, children ages 5-16 who are attending are invited  to help Jewish rock musician Rick Recht (above) sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ on the field during the Cardinals game Aug. 8.

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

Few foods inspire as much personal pride and bravado in terms of their preparation and taste as barbecue. Wet or dry, slow-cooked over indirect heat on a charcoal grill or smoked in a gas smoker, barbecue chefs can spend as much time debating technique and taste as they do cooking the darn meat.

Tangential to these conversations are ones about the best barbecue city. Sadly, since author and foodie (and native Kansas Citian) Calvin Trillin declared Arthur Bryant’s as “the best single restaurant in the world” back in the 1970s, St. Louis has been usurped on the barbecue landscape by Kansas City, where today more than 75 ’cue restaurants (not counting chain outlets) are listed on kansascitybarbecue.com. If anything, K.C’s main competition seems to come from Memphis.

But all of that could change soon, at least on the kosher barbecue front. Come Sunday, Aug. 18, the 2nd annual Kansas City Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on the grounds of the oldest Reform congregation in K.C.: Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Overland Park, Kan. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend.

According to festival organizer, Rabbi Mendel Segal, executive director of Vaad HaKashruth, the kosher supervising agency of the greater Kansas City Jewish community, there are still openings for barbecue teams to compete. “It would be awesome if some barbecue chefs from St. Louis would take part,” said Segal, adding that he expects a total of 20 teams to compete.

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Of course, this being a kosher competition, adherence to strict kosher dietary laws prohibits pork, shellfish and non-kosher certified beef and chicken as well as a ban against mixing milk and meat. Nonetheless, chefs can flaunt their barbecue magic with chicken thighs, beef ribs and beef brisket. The cost for a team to enter is $350 and the deadline is July 22, though Segal said he will extend the date if the goal of 20 teams has not been reached by then.

Judging the competition will be six professional foodies, including author and Food Network celebrity Simon Majumdar, who did tell audiences on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” that K.C.’s Stroud’s fried chicken beat all the others, hands down. Majumdar is not only a frequent judge on “Iron Chef,” but also was a regular on the judging panel for “The Next Iron Chef” in its last two seasons.

According to Rabbi Segal, the main purpose of this competition is to help raise awareness about kosher food as well as funds so that more K.C. area residents can purchase it. Last year he said a team from Olathe, Kan. took first place honors, which basically consisted of a trophy and bragging rights.

Olathe, Kan.? What do they know from kosher?

“I know, right?” said Segal. “They were as much surprised as anyone else, but their kosher barbecue was terrific.”

Segal, by the way, is pitmaster of his team: RaBBi-Q, and won third place for his chicken, and for his brisket, and sixth place for ribs at last month’s kosher BBQ competition on Long Island.

He said that after this year, KCKosher BBQ hopes to continue to be on the circuit for the KC BBQ Society, the international group that overseas the American Royal and BBQ competitions all over the world.

For more information about forming a team or the festival in general, go to KCKosherBBQ.com or give Segal a call at 913-235-6077.

Jews take the field

Yes, that would be Busch Stadium on Aug. 8, when the Jewish Community Center welcomes families to take part in Jewish Community Night as the Cardinals host the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Children in the Jewish community between the ages of 5 and 16 will have a chance to sing  “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the field during the seventh inning stretch with Jewish rock musician Rick Recht. Those interested in singing with Recht and the Jewish Community Night Choir must email Rabbi Brad Horwitz at [email protected] by Aug. 1. Horwitz will then send special instructions about participating in the choir.

All participants — singers and their families — must purchase tickets to the game itself to gain entrance to the stadium. Promotional Jewish Community Night tickets, which includes a commemorative T-shirt, are on sale at www.cardinals.com/jewish.

True pride

Speaking of the St. Louis Jewish Community, hats off for it taking first place for “Best Walking Entry” at last month’s local PrideFest Parade. Six first place awards were given, including ones for best costume, best float and best social commentary. Sixteen local Jewish organizations, including members from several area congregations, were represented in the parade. Talk about making an entrance, way to go!

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