Review: Brisket King NYC at LIU, Brooklyn April 19, 2017

Cover image: Chef Jesse Jones © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Where do you start? I thought as the wafting aromas of Izzy’s Smokehouse BBQ dish filled my nostrils. The taste was even better with the perfect balance of fat and tender meat that just melted in my mouth.

Izzy’s Smokehouse © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Whether during the summer or at an indoor event, there is always something magical about a barbecue. Meat sizzling over charcoal, the drinks and friends chatting carries that nostalgic charm and feeling of comfort. At the 2017 Brisket King NYC, it was impossible not feel intoxicated by the buzz. Guests both young and old happily tucking into the delights on offer while enjoying a banter with the chefs.

This year’s Brisket King was extra special at the historical theatre at Long Island University in Brooklyn. With roots tracing back some 91 years, the venue morphed into the ultimate tasting arena, where over 21 participating chefs delighted guests with an array of amazing and inventive dishes in this rustic cook off. Friendly and energetic, the venders served their culinary creations with pride. This year, award-winning celebrity judges Aaron FranklinDaniel Vaughn and John Tesar came all the way from Texas to size up the best of the cooking competition.

© Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Kimchi Smoke © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

For me, it was very difficult to say who was the most impressive contender of the evening. Every booth I hopped, I discovered something new. There were burgers, meatballs and tacos but all done with care, knowledge and passion while others cleverly incorporated Asian flavors. South Korean-style Kimchi Smoke had a tasty tender brisket smothered in their original cheese sauce, which packed a serious punch of flavor. The techniques some had perfected, however, bordered on zealotry.
Randall’s BBQ brought an amazing meat that had been smoked for more than 18 hours the night before!

Ribs Within © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Another highlight of the Brisket King cook off was Ribs Within, which brought a little porky fun, cheerfully wrapping bacon on barbecue skewers. Doesn’t everything taste better with bacon?
Some may have underestimated their popularity at the frenzy. 2014 Top Chefs contestant Jesse Jones from New Jersey had one of the longest lines. Cherry Street Bar-B-Q from Canada actually ran out of their food in the middle of the event! Such a shame because I never got to taste their dish.
With all the sizzling meats and spicy fare, there were fantastic drinks to bring a refreshing breeze and cleanse the palette.

NY Honey © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

For those in need of a stiff drink to wet the appetite, Tito’s craft Vodka delivered on taste while Catskill Provisions’ Honey Whiskey was smooth, subtle and heartwarming. Fans of a summer G & T should get a bottle of Queens Courage‘s artisanal Gin. And if you like a bit of fiery magic, Empire Spirits Project made an exceptional Bloody Mary. Another favorite was a mead-like honey liqueur from KAS Spirits, which complemented the food nicely with smooth, mellow notes of honey. And of course, there was good ol’ beer including Guinness, which showcased a great series of its beers for all to enjoy with grilled meat.

ButcherBar © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Although it was also impossible to try all the dishes as I had already jumped several pant sizes sampling generous portions of food, I tried as best as anyone could.  Since the event was a competition, at the end, the judges chose the top four vendors, with Izzy’s BBQ knock out dish beating out the other heavyweight rivals.

Crowds poured into the 2017 Brisket King NYC © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

In the end of the day, the dishes served had great flavors and each told a unique story. But most importantly, however, is that they were a joy pleasure to eat, and surely that is what it should be about.
By the time I left the Brisket King at LIU with a full belly and feeling a bit tipsy, I could only think about the upcoming summer barbecue season.
Kei Hayashi contributed to this article for WhereNYC.