“Hava NaGrilla” – Philadelphia Kosher Smoke BBQ Festival recap!

Philly, here we come!

On this 4th of July, America’s Independence Day, it feels appropriate to share my recap of the Philadelphia Kosher BBQ “Hava Nagrilla” festival from just nearly 2 weeks ago, where your fav team, “5 Dudes & A Vegetarian” competed! So here you go, ‘Murica – Happy Birthday!

But really, what isn’t more American than BBQ? 🙂

Let’s take this back to Friday, June 21st.  Peikes, Ellie and I boarded a very early flight from Midway. Got the rental car, ran a few errands (thank you Dollar Tree for selling KOSHER hot dog buns), picked up Debbie, and headed to the neighborhood of Bala Cynwyd, where we stayed for Shabbat.

Welcome to Philadelphia.  The city of brotherly love, cheesesteaks (if they’re kosher, even better), the Fresh Prince, and Rocky Balboa.

The Italian Stallion

Our lovely hosts (thank you Charlotte & Mordy) had everything prepped for our stay, so we had a few hours to kill.  What’s one of my bucket list places to visit in Philly?  Sadly, no, we didn’t have time to go see the Liberty Bell, or Congressional Hall, or any Art Museums (next trip though…).  No, this time, it was the Rocky Statue (cue the theme music), albeit the line to take photos in front was crazy-long.

But then it was time for the “Rocky steps” right beside the statue. Peikes and Ellie raced, while I decided to run up behind them, all while capturing this on video.  But, didn’t quote go as planned. When you’re “vertically challenged” and you decide to try and run those steps 2 at a time, it’s not the best idea.  It started out great, all hyped up, but I just ended up tripping over myself (sigh…). Oh well, it was funny (if you want to see that video, check us out at @meatyourvegetables on Instagram and click the Philly BBQ highlights)!

Fast forward to a lovely Shabbat, PERFECT weather and before we knew it, time to head over to the venue to start our smokers!

Teams, start your smokers!

The event was held in the parking lot of Temple Beth Hillel – Beth El.  The space was great (and it’s always good to have the synagogue available all night.  I mean, who really wants to use porta-potties).  There were 20 teams at the festival – one of the largest!  Some are good friends of ours who we have competed with a lot over the last few years.  It’s always good competition when you’re competing against the best of the best, right?

And now for the fun part.  Fast forward a few hours. The brisket and ribs are trimmed. The chicken thighs prepped. Turkey wings?  Well that threw us for a loop at the get-go, but we ended up using the drumette, so either way, we got those prepared too!  Proteins are rubbed, and the meat injected.

Time for a quick commercial break…

In the meantime, a few mishaps along the way.  A team just a few yards away from us had some stuff stolen (iPads, wallets) – the jury is still out on if they got anything back.  Debbie unfortunately had a quick bout of sickness (sorry, Debs), so I stepped in to help finish the chicken prep.  I must say, it’s not the sexiest job for a vegetarian. I mean, cutting through bone, cleaning the skin, it’s pretty gross, BUT our chicken thighs turn out so darn cute when they’re all rolled up and ready go to bathe in margarine (I know, I know), chicken stock and BBQ seasoning.

The last thing on the list to complete?  Chili.  There were 25 people chosen to sample each team’s chili.  Most of the teams were not thrilled with this, since it wasn’t part of the KCBS judging, we didn’t put in as much time and love as the 4 proteins that were being judged and truthfully, it wasn’t our shining moment.  Our chili was a tomato-based chili with salsa, leftover burnt ends, and garlic sausages that came all the way from Romanian Kosher Sausage in Chicago.  Nonetheless, we didn’t win that category.  Oh well.

Time to announce the winners!

After all was said and done, we were VERY happy with how we placed – especially in the company of 20 teams!  Our team, 5 Dudes & A Vegetarian placed 3rd in Turkey, 3rd in Chicken, and 7th place overall (and a $100 cash prize)!  We didn’t do as well in the Ribs and Brisket categories, but we have some ideas how to improve for the next BBQ competition (which is uh, next weekend)!

Needless to say, we are definitely proud of our performance at the first BBQ competition of 2019.  1 down, 2 more to go!  See you in Cincinnati July 14th, and Dallas, October 27th!

And no… we cannot promise we’ll have any leftovers to bring home. 🙂

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