Destination: Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship and Cookbook Giveaway


Before we get to the dish on Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship, don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the new cookbook
Perfect Flavors: Creative, easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by my family and travels by Naomi Nachman:

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Destination: Dallas

About 3 weeks ago Rachel, Elliott (Rachel’s husband) and I headed down to the Lone Star State for the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship. We compete under the team name of Five Dudes and Vegetarian. Thanks to my awesome wife Ronit for holding down the fort while I was off having fun.

A Little Bit About Kosher KCBS Competitions

I am going to pause here and provide a little background on the format of kosher BBQ competitions established by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS):

Teams compete in four categories: chicken, beef ribs, turkey, and brisket. They are judged by six judges on taste, tenderness, and presentation. Judges score entries on a scale of 2-9, with the lowest judge’s score dropped. The scores are then tallied and the winners are announced.

In order to keep everything kosher, the competition provides all of the equipment, meat, and ingredients.  Usually, there is prep time Thursday night or Friday morning ahead of the event. At this point meat, ingredients, and utensils are given out and access to a kosher kitchen is provided.  The event swings into full gear Saturday night, where the teams are provided a smoker and a grill. They then start cooking, drinking, and having an all around good time.  The teams’ pit-masters tend their fires throughout the night until it is time to turn their hard work in to the judges.

Getting Going

We headed out to the airport at about 3:30 AM with what seamed like the slowest Uber driver ever. We made it in plenty of time for our 5 AM flight.  After an uneventful flight we grabbed a rental car and headed to Benny’s Bagels where we grabbed breakfast.  Rachel and I got omelets, which to our surprise, they make in the microwave, and Elliott had a bagel and cream cheese.  The food was decent for a small bagel joint, but nothing to write home about.

Prep Party

We then headed to Congregation Beth Torah, the organization that was hosting the the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship to start prepping for the competition. Most of the local teams had prepped the night before, so it was a pretty light crowd. Shortly after we arrived, our friend and kosher BBQ legend Mendel Segal of Backyard BBQ and Brew in South Florida showed up. He joined us at our Airbnb for Shabbat.  It was great to hang out with him for the weekend.

Rachel got started on blending our rubs and simmering our sauce, I started trimming the brisket, and I think Elliott made some phone calls when he wasn’t schmoozing with his mohel (he was born in Dallas) who also happened to be the mashgiach for the event.

Once I was done trimming the brisket, I rubbed it will our classified combination of spices and injected it with our secret elixir (If I ever obtain a 1st place prize in brisket I’ll publish my recipe). Then it was on to the turkey.  We decided to spatchcock the turkey, which involves removing the back bone and pressing down on the breasts to flatten to bird so it cooks evenly. I then injected the turkey with another concoction, and placed a compound margarine under the skin.  Finally we let the bird bathe in broth until we were ready to cook it on Sunday.

We intentionally deferred chicken prep until Saturday night.  It was was Rachel’s call, as it fell to her to do chicken prep as Debbie, our teammate that usually handles the chicken, did not make the trip. The ribs were not available yet, so we cleaned up and headed out.

Run Around Town

The next stop was Dollar Tree. There is no place better for all the bits and pieces you need to compete in a BBQ competition, or host a Shabbat in a converted garage Airbnb. While we were out we checked out Boot Barn where I bought myself a belt buckle, as well as a Penzey Spices where I went for the free smells.

Then it was off to the new kosher grocery and deli Kosher Palate to pick up some lunch and our Shabbat food.  I was able to pick up pretty much everything I needed for Shabbat from grape juice to dessert and everything in between. They have some solid food.  I especially liked their Ali’s (named for the chef) chicken, a roast chicken with Mediterranean flavors. We did a little more running around and checked out the local big box grocery store with a large kosher section and then headed to the Airbnb to get ready for Shabbat.

Sabbatical Suds

We got to the Airbnb and after some confusion about how to get in, we started to unload the car and unpack. The Airbnb was small but cozy. Perfect for a quiet Shabbat before the all the excitement of a an overnight BBQ competition.  About 45 minutes before Shabbat was to begin Mendel Segal showed up.  Friday afternoons with Mendel means one thing, “Beer Before Shabbos”. Beer before Shabbos is short video Mendel does most weeks where he picks a beer to taste and briefly talk about.  Elliott and I got our 15 seconds of fame as guests on that week’s episode.

Shabbat was fairly uneventful.  We went to shul, ate, and tried to get as much sleep as possible. We knew we needed all the rest we could get before the competition.  The Shabbat meals were nice and the company was excellent.  The food from Kosher Palate was tasty and spending time with Mendel, Elliott, and Rachel is always enjoyable.

BBQ Bonanza

After Shabbat we quickly packed up and checked out of the Airbnb and headed to the contest grounds to get set up.  With this contest being later in the year, Shabbat was over fairly early, allowing us plenty of time to get organized and relax before the brisket needed to go on the smoker.

Once we got to the contest it was the prefect example of organized chaos.  A lot of stuff going on all at once, but all in near-perfect harmony.  The organizers seemed to have a perfect handle on everything going on and the volunteers worked diligently to make sure everything went off without a hitch.  Special thanks to Brian Rubenstein and Sandy Dorf. They bent over backwards to make sure all the teams that traveled in from out of state were well taken care of.

Rolling Smoke

After getting set up and having a few shots we threw a few hot dogs on the grill for dinner and waited for the time to come to put the brisket on.  Eventually 1 AM came around and it was time get the brisket to get started.  I don’t know why, but I had the hardest time getting my smoker up to 250°F.  We were using a Weber Smokey Mountain* which is a model I am very familiar with and is quickly becoming the standard for Kosher BBQ competitions, but something just wasn’t clicking.

My theory is the issue was with the charcoal I was using.  I was using a brand that I was not used to and it created a lot of ash. The other possibility was I was just not getting a good seal and my smoker was leaking heat.  The lid to my smoker didn’t fit quite right which likely was contributing to the issue.

Size Does Matter

Soon after setting up we received our ribs, which were huge!  This created a space issue.  Usually kosher competitions provide a 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain* and a 22″ Weber Kettle*. When we have smaller ribs, and a turkey breast as opposed to whole bird, we are generally able to fit everything on the smoker without the use of the Weber kettle.  Due to the volume of meat we had to cook I ended up doing the turkey on the kettle. The kettle was bit hotter than I wanted and the dark meat got a little dry.

Here Comes the Sun

The ribs went on around 6 AM, a little earlier than usual due to their large size.Shachris Selfie We then managed to pull together a minyan for Shacharit  followed by a Kosher BBQ Competition Shacharit selfie with Mendel Segal, which has become a standing tradition.

Breakfast, featuring bagels and coffee provided by the contest organizers along with shakshuka and french toast that Rachel made were soon to follow. That’s right Rachel managed to make french toast in a foil pan on a charcoal grill.

After breakfast the chicken and turkey went on and the event opened to public.  There were all sorts of vendors and activities. I can’t reiterate enough how well this event was organized.

Time for Turn-Ins

A little bit before noon was when the real fun began. Turn-ins were every half hour starting at noon.  The energy of the teams putting together their boxes to be presented to the judges is one of those things that defies words.  You really need to experience it. (That is an invitation for all of you to visit us at the next competition.)


The first category was chicken which came out decently. It is hard to get the pieces to be perfectly uniform when using kosher thighs, as they can vary in size and come with rib bones attached. I can’t complain too much about the chicken though, as we scored better than expected.


While the ribs were very large and didn’t lay out well in the pan (we used foil pans instead of the standard foam boxes due to the size), they were excellent quality plate ribs, which are meatier than the back ribs we usually use. Our ribs came out pretty good, not sure why we didn’t score better.  I can only theorize that in Texas they like their ribs a little less sweet than we make them.


The turkey breast came out pretty moist, but I need to work on my presentation for it. As I mentioned earlier the dark meat came out a bit dry so I didn’t end up putting any in my box.


Our brisket took forever to get to temp, but eventually got there.  I let some other teams taste my brisket and received positive feedback, but I think the pieces that went to the judges just weren’t the best.  In the future I plan to cut the whole brisket and then decide what to put in our box for the judges.

Celebrity Judges

We also provided small portions of all four categories for a panel of celebrity judges, as well as turkey and brisket for the spectators for the People’s Choice award. The celebrity judges included some serious BBQ royalty including Jill Grobowsky Bergus, owner of Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas, one of the oldest and well known BBQ joints in Texas. Along side her was Daniel Vaughn who has my dream job, the BBQ editor for Texas Monthly Magazine and Gabe Boxer AKA The Kosher Guru.


Smokey DanielWe took fifth overall. If you take into account the fact that second, third, and fourth place were separated by less than a point, and the guy who took first has his own BBQ restaurant, I think we did pretty well. After the awards we headed to a local heath club to grab a quick shower. We then headed to the airport for a fairly uneventful flight followed my an Uber home. As soon as I got home I passed out. It was a whirlwind trip, but a lot of fun.  We are hoping to return next year, and hope to see you all there!

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s take on the contest: 2 Dudes & a Vegetarian Do Dallas and Cookbook Giveaway!

*This post contains affiliate links. We at MYV earn a small commission if you purchase an item through one of those links, which allows us to continue bringing you great tasting food.

2 Dudes (& a Vegetarian) Do Dallas…oh, and Cookbook Giveaway!


Before I get to the “dish” on the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship, don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the new cookbook Perfect Flavors: Creative, easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by my family and travels by Naomi Nachman!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Dish on Dallas

Debbie didn’t do Dallas.  At least not this year. 🙂  Debbie IS one of our beloved teammates on the Kosher BBQ competition circuit, but alas, I couldn’t avoid that joke… #sorrynotsorry.

Let’s travel back to 2 weeks ago, Friday October 26th.  Our BBQ team “5 Dudes and a Vegetarian” (only 2 dudes this time), hopped on a 5 AM flight (gross, I know) and made our way to the Lone Star state! Tired, hungry, but full of adrenaline, we made it to the shul in time for prep.  And let me say, as someone who is very organized, I was thrilled to be part of the most organized BBQ prep I’ve ever seen!  The table of ingredients had rows of spices, herbs and sauces lined up oh-so perfectly.  It made finding our spices to make the base rub so much easier!  This Dallas Kosher BBQ competition is shaping up to be pretty great!

2 hours later, the brisket has been trimmed, the rubs and sauce are made, the turkey spatchcocked, injected and rubbed and we’re finished for now.  The ribs weren’t available until Saturday night and chicken?  Well, we can wait on that too.

Next, we headed to the semi-new Kosher market and take-out BBQ place, Kosher Palate.  We ordered ahead and picked up food for Shabbat, including chicken, green bean salad, cucumber salad, & chicken fingers (we did an Airbnb for Shabbat, and the one and only Mendel Segal of RaBBi-Q joined us)!  And we had JUST enough time to fit in a “Beer Before Shabbos” video!  Check it out here!

Shabbat was restful and relaxing – even in our tiny garage home for the night. It was the perfect set-up for a BBQ competition weekend.  Nothing fancy needed here – just good food and good company.

Let the Battle Begin

Saturday night the fun begins!  Tents, tables, equipment are being set up.  Proteins arrive.  Our station is organized (you’re welcome). Of course, the moment I turned on my phone, I heard about the horrible tragedy in Pittsburgh. The atmosphere became a bit more somber.  Just remember to hug and kiss your loved ones and keep them safe. Ultimately, I cannot thank the police enough for being at the event all night and all day and for keeping us safe!  Thank you Blue!

Midnight rolls around and I’m up!  It’s time for me to prep the chicken!  I honestly don’t know why I volunteer to do the least-appealing (pretty gross) job in this competition. I mean, chopping off knuckles, pulling out tendons, and thinning skin is not exactly a vegetarian’s paradise, but those chicken thighs looked mighty adorable when they were all done if I say so myself.

A long night ahead.  I probably fell asleep for about 10 minutes, but as usual, I caught a second wind.

The sun has risen and the men are davening Shacharit.  That’s my cue to make breakfast! As always, bfast consists of shakshuka on the grill. This time we added French Toast, made with a leftover challah from Shabbat!  #breakfastFTW

And now the REAL fun begins.  Countdown to turn-in times.

Feeding BBQ Aficionados

But first – let’s introduce the celebrity panel!  This is just pure fun, bringing some meat selections from each team to this very talented group of chefs and foodies!  They ate, chatted with the crowd and ultimately gave out judges’ favorites awards!

Let me introduce you to…

  • Vicki Nivens – owner of Hard Eight BBQ for over 15 years and has overseen the growth to over 4 locations across North Texas with a 5th on its way!
  • Jody Dean – longtime host of 98.7 FM KLUV morning drive and BBQ aficionado (returned to the event for his 4th year in a row!)
  • Jill Grobowsky Bergus – born into BBQ royalty and owner of Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas (where NO forks and NO sauce are apparently the norm)
  • Daniel Vaughn – one of, if not THE most well-known and recognizable BBQ aficionados throughout Texas, he recently won a national magazine award for Texas Monthly’s 2017 Top 50 BBQ issue and published his first book The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue in 2013
  • John Tesar – executive chef and partner of the renowned Knife Dallas (named “Best Steakhouse” by Dallas Magazine in 2015 AND 2016), 4-time James Beard “Best Southwest Chef” semifinalist and contestant on the hit Bravo show “Top Chef”
  • Gabriel Boxer – known as the “Kosher Guru”, is a leading expert in the kosher food industry and restaurant consultant and runs one of the largest kosher foodie Facebook groups “Kosher Guru’s Kosher Nation”

Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to chat with the celeb panel, but it looked like they were having a great time!  And how could they NOT?  Free BBQ!

Time For Turn-Ins

All the while the crowd was enjoying the fantastic event (lots of kids activities and local vendors), the teams were getting their turn-in boxes prepped perfectly for the judges.  Chicken, ribs, turkey and brisket.  Each turn-in a half hour apart.  Meat sliced to perfection (or so we thought, fingers crossed). 7 portions laid out on the folded piece of foil inside a white Styrofoam container – very fancy here.  Spills wiped up and time checked.  All 4 proteins submitted to the judges successfully!

Amazing Organizers

Before I get into HOW we placed in each category, I personally want to thank Brian Rubenstein and Sandy Dorf for their hard work on running this amazing event.  I have never seen such incredible organization. Even though little glitches popped up (it happens in any event, right) I can speak for our entire that team that we were so overwhelmed by the love and support and for you and Sandy truly going above and beyond to help us, especially as we traveled for the event.  Brian – I know you REALLY wanted us to be there and we are so thrilled that we got the chance to come!  It’s been so much fun getting to know you over the years and we would LOVE to come back next year.

Ready for the Results

So how did we place?  Well, we won 4th place in chicken, 4th place in turkey, 5th place in ribs and 5th overall!  Not bad considering we competed against some serious BBQ veterans!  And the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places were only separated by less than 1 point!  So I’d say we did pretty well!

Well, we’ve already marked our calendars for next year’s event – October 27th, 2019!

Check out some pix from the big event!

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*This post contains affiliate links. We at MYV (Meat Your Vegetables) earn a small commission if you purchase an item through one of those links, which allows us to continue bringing you great tasting food.