BBQ&A: Jubon’s David Rosen

[Note: Follow this link-Rosen BBQ&A-for an easier to read, .pdf version of the interview.] 

Riddle me this: What do you get when you mix four New York Jews, Ubon’s competitive cooking team from Mississippi and the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party?  

The answer: Jubon’s. 

David Rosen, the central force behind Jubon’s, was kind enough to fill us in on the crew’s backstory, the barbecue competition experience and NYCQ. 

BBQ Jew: What’s the full story on how Jubon’s came to exist and can you explain the name thing for those who don’t know?
David Rosen: I had just finished standing in a very long line for a plate of Memphis style pulled pork from Ubon’s Barbeque at the 2007 Big Apple Barbeque Block Party in Madison Square Park. As I was eating I commented to one of the guys pulling pork, “This is terrific.” Allen Campbell, member of the Ubon’s cooking team, replied, “You know, you’re eating that all wrong….” I responded “Then I’ll get back in line and do it the right way.” Instead Allen brought me up onto the trailer, within arm’s length of Ubon’s smokers, and taught me – everything on the plate, goes on the bun – especially the cole slaw. David and his family spent the next four hours visiting with Allen, Garry Roark, Leslie Roark Scott, and Brian Campbell. 

Allen, Leslie and I stayed in touch and the Ubon’s family invited me to bring some friends to the Memphis in May World BBQ Championship in 2008. We booked hotels and got airfare; we were coming to Memphis. But, we didn’t know what to expect. The hospitality we received extended past a friendship and into the realm of family. 

Gotta love that tagline

Gotta love that tagline


Three weeks after Memphis in May 2008, on a sunny, hot NYC June day, Me and my future teammates: Brian Jay, Adam Rosen and Bob-O Livingston, suited up in cotton and disposable gloves and joined Ubon’s on Madison Avenue for the 2008 Big Apple Barbeque Block Party. We found that our passing interest in the art of barbeque had turned into a passion for smoke. 

Over the next year, plans were made for Jubon’s to enter Memphis In May’s 2009 “Patio Porkers Division” and cook ribs to be judged. We chose the name Jubon’s to honor our mentors (Ubon’s) and our heritage. First, t-shirts were made, then, the rub and ribs were developed and perfected. Ubon’s helped get a smoker, tent, tables, fence, Ubon’s BBQ Sauce and raw ribs to Memphis. 

Jubon’s weathered rain, wind, mud, heat, humidity, and a new smoker, not to mention putting together a blind-box for the first time. They had great ribs, but didn’t make it to the Finals. They missed being in the top three by 0.3 of a point (which they would learn after the awards ceremony). Then, out of nowhere, a little bird brought great news for those four Jewish kids from NYC– Jubon’s would get up on stage. The boys from NYC received a 4th place trophy! 

BBQJ: What are a bunch of nice Jewish boys like yourselves doing cooking pork–did you grow up digging on swine?
DR: It’s safe to say that none of us grew up with any dietary restrictions in our houses. We all grew up in Reformed Jewish households and ate pork. Continue reading

Porky’s Pulpit: Pro Bono Barbecue

Swineday Bloody Swineday
According to an informative paid advertorial article in the News & Observer, when international supergroup U2 visited the area this past weekend for a concert they ordered out for barbecue from Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue in downtown Raleigh.  Cooper’s co-owner Debbie Holt received a late afternoon call from a member of U2’s staff from on board their private jet a short while before it touched down at RDU.  (Do private jets come equipped with $3.99 per minute Airfones in the seatbacks?  Can even Bono himself afford these rates?) 

Despite rumors to the contrary, Bono is not a vegetarian, though his bandmate Larry Mullen Jr. may be.  Despite the presence of a vegeterian in their midst, the U2 entourage placed an order for slightly more than $225 worth of barbecue and sides, which had to be delivered to the jet after their concert ended in time for a 10:50 p.m. departure. (“We love you, Raleigh, but it’s time to go… there’s barbecue waiting on the jetway.”)  Debbie Holt, her husband Randy Holt, and cook Chess Smith stayed well past Cooper’s usual 6:00 p.m. closing time to cook up the food for the hungry, pork-loving Irishmen. 

Interestingly, this is not U2’s first NC barbecue encounter.  There is a vintage photo of U2 on the wall of fame at Bullock’s Barbecue in Durham, where famous visitors to the restaurant are honored.  The photo features a picture of circa mid-1980s U2 along with the classically underwhelming caption, “U2 – Band from Ireland.”  A couple decades and more than a few millions album sales later U2 is back eating ‘cue in NC again.  Apparently, slow-cooked pork is a hit Where the Streets Have No Name.

Porky’s Pulpit: If Pigs Could Fly…

If pigs could fly, which airport would they use?  Not Raleigh-Durham International (RDU), at least if they knew they might get cooked there.  Brookwood Farms BBQ is a relatively new entry to RDU’s dining scene, with a location in the posh new Terminal 2 (which used to be the still pretty new Terminal C before it got torn down, and before that there was just old Terminal A and old Terminal B, but Terminal B was closed after Terminal C was built, and… well, it’s a long story). 

According to the blurb on the RDU website, Brookwood Farms BBQ is located near gate C-9 (even though the terminal is now called Terminal 2, not Terminal C, mind you) and is open from 4:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.  The website says of the restaurant, “Hailing from nearby Siler City, NC, Brookwood Farms BBQ invites you to come and sit a spell while enjoying real down home cooking.”  Needless to say, despite that folksy quote, I am highly skeptical of the quality of any BBQ joint that is in an airport.  Plus, the folksiness smacks of faux ‘cue to me, but I’ll reserve final judgment until I visit, hopefully on my next flight out of RDU since even I can’t justify driving to the airport just for a meal. 

Actually, let’s be honest, I’ve pre-judged Brookwood already because their wholesale barbecue is sold at large grocery stores.  I’ve had it before and it is simply not good.  See H. Kent Craig’s scathing review if you want the gory details.  Interestingly, Craig says he used to really like their ‘cue, even going so far as describing it by saying, “it embraces your mouth like a silken sexy lover, kissing your tastebuds with one of the most pleasant initial tastes, as well as pleasant aftertastes when you burp your signal of approval later that night.”  Craig writes that the BBQ’s quality has dropped markedly over the years.  But maybe the ‘cue served “fresh” at the restaurant at RDU will be different?  Heck, maybe pigs can fly!

Eastern Carolina BBQ Throwdown

The 2009 Throw Down trophy: holy hog, Batman!

The 2009 Throw Down trophy: holy hog, Batman!

Thanks to a reader, D, for pointing out that coming soon is the annual Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down in Rocky Mount.  Honestly, I have no idea how I missed ever hearing about this event until now.  Thanks D, it looks great.

The Throwdown, formerly known as Pignatius, is part of the 28th annual Down East Festival, which is put on by the City of Rocky Mount’s Parks & Rec Department.  This year’s Festival will be held on Friday, October 9th and Saturday, October 10 in downtown Rocky Mount, and includes music, a beer garden, arts and crafts, and… barbecue. 

 Indeed, the Throw Down portion of the event is an official Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned cookoff that will feature around 50 teams.  Judging solely by the quality of their names, some of the teams to beat are: Grog N Hogs, Lazy Ass BBQ Crew, Two Old Men and a Grill, and Pickin’ Porkers.  Items that will be judged in competition include chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket.  Why a BBQ competition in Eastern NC needs to fool around with anything but whole hog barbecue is beyond me, but that’s how the folks from the Kansas City Barbecue Society roll, like it or not.

Governor Beverly Perdue, who evidently doesn’t have enough to keep her busy what with the state’s budget and economy in shambles, has signed a proclamation endorsing the Throw Down and urging “all citizens to commend its observance.”   I am not really sure what that means, but it’s from the Governor so it’s official.  Plus, since Gov. Perdue has spent much of her life down east in New Bern, NC, she probably does have some affection for Eastern-style ‘cue, though I doubt she plays it up to much when campaigning west of Raleigh…