By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — Sixteen pitmasters from across the nation will descend on Manhattan this weekend armed with barbecue sauce to slather and sweet meat to smoke for the ninth annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party.
The grilling will begin Saturday at 11 a.m. in Madison Square Park, kicking off two days of music, drinking and finger-licking.
St. Louis’s Pappy’s Smokehouse will be serving up its Memphis-style baby back ribs, Charleston, South Carolina’s BlackJack Barbecue will be grilling up pulled pork shoulder, and Nashville, Tennessee’s Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint will be smoking its western Tennessee-style whole hog.
Plates cost $8 and admission is free.
From New York, Kenny Callaghan from Blue Smoke will be cooking up Texas salt and pepper beef ribs, Charles Grund Jr. will be serving Hill Country’s beef brisket, Rack & Soul's John Wheeler will be slathering baby back ribs, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s John Stage will be serving pulled pork shoulder, the restaurant’s number-one selling sandwich.
"It's two days of craziness," said an excited Stage ahead of the event, which he’s been participating in for years.
"It shows what a big BBQ town New York is."
Stage plans to satisfy the crowds with his classic pork sandwich, which has been rubbed with spices for 24-hours and smoked over hickory. He’ll finish it off over charcoal and pull the meat to order.
"It smells great. The food tastes even better," he said.
He advised hungry eaters to arrive early to avoid the lines. Last year’s festivities attracted more than 100,000 BBQ lovers over two days.
In addition to the BBQ, Blue Smoke's Jenn Giblin will be serving up blondies, blueberry crisp and Rootbeer floats for dessert for $4 each.
And to wash down the barbecued and sugary goodness, wine and local micro-brewed beer will be on tap from noon to 6 p.m.
This year's music lineup features Beatles cover band Bambi Kino, hard–core honky–tonk country musician Dale Watson, and Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.
Those hoping to improve their own pit skills while they’re chowing down can also check out seminars like "Corn: The Great Comrade" about the joys of the kernel, and cooking classes that will teach you everything you need to impress your in-laws on the grill.
The Big Apple BBQ Block Party will run June 11 to 12th, from 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.