Jubon’s Victory


Two Live Jews: Kosher As They Wanna Be

Congratulations are in order for our Jewish brethren, the Jubon’s barbecue competition team, which we recently profiled on this site.  Their ribs won them a first place trophy at the Mississippi Delta State Barbecue Championship in Cleveland, MS.  (As an aside, I have a fondness for Cleveland, MS because it is the home to Delta State University, whose very BBQ-compatible mascot is the Fighting Okra.)



We just discovered we have a brother-in-arms trotters: Marc Schapiro, author of baconjew.com.  Marc’s blog is a humorous ode to that almost-as-good-as-barbecue meat, bacon.  It’s good to know there is another Jew out there wasting his time writing about, and salivating over, forbidden meat.

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

Anti-Semitic Vegeterian Barbecue Sauce?

Hmm, this ain't a classic vinegar sauce.

Hmm, this ain't a classic vinegar sauce.

A few weeks ago we received the inset photo from Joel Haas, a Raleigh-based sculptor and author of the recent novel Adlerhof, which he describes as a story about “NC Jews, race riots, cats, Nazis, naked women, money and asparagus.”  (I’ll leave it to the readers to decide if the world really needs yet another book about Nazis, naked women and asparagus.)

Joel writes: “My first encounter with Asia (southern Taiwan) was in late 2004 when I went to the city of Kaohsiung to represent the USA in the International Steel Sculpture Festival.  Riding in from the airport to the Kaohsiung harbor, I was reminded that the Nazis and Hitler had appropriated one of the great Buddhist symbols for peace and long life, the swastika.  A towering Buddhist temple, built much like a 1950s skyscraper, loomed before me, its 15 foot high swastikas on all four sides lit with spotlights.”  Interesting stuff, Joel, but what’s it got to do with this “barbecue” sauce?    

“Back home in the USA,” Joel explains, “my wife and I took to haunting the Grand Asia Market over in South Hills in Raleigh for authentic Taiwanese foods.  It was here I found what is a startling contradiction in both taste and concept for an American–vegetarian barbecue sauce in a can covered with swastikas.” 
Rest easy, NC barbecue fans, as this sauce is actually intended for Asian hot pot cooking.  However, at only $3 a can, in a pinch this sauce might make a decent substitute for classic vinegar & hot pepper sauces found at barbecue joints across the state.  But between the swastika and, redundantly, the word “vegetarian,” I think I’ll pass. After all, there is some evidence Hitler was a vegeterian (though not a particularly dedicated one, it seems).

Roast Hashanah

We’re at the beginning of the High Holidays–no, not the Lexington Barbecue Festival–the holiest days in the Jewish year. Saturday is Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the new year in the Jewish calendar.

Litterally translated, Rosh Hashanah means ‘Head of the Year.’ Yet few know that the Hebrew word ‘Rosh’ actually derives from the English ‘Roast.’ Hence Roast Hashanah, or Roast of the Year.

In my make believe world, that equates to a divine order to eat barbecue on this day. But not just any barbecue will do. It has to be the roast of the year!

Apples dipped in honey or barbecue? What does your conscience tell you?

Apples dipped in honey vs. barbecue? What does your conscience tell you?

So sound the shofar, hop in the car and head to your finest local pork purveyor (As if you needed another excuse to eat barbecue). We’ll see you there.

I can think of a few better ways to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (apples with honey or a kugel, perhaps). But I can think of no better way to observe Roast Hashanah than tucking into a nice barbecue plate.

Art, Religion & Barbecue

We recently received an email from Joel Haas of Raleigh, who kindly agreed to let us share excerpts from his witty message.  Joel’s email begins as follows: “I am very, very grateful that my Jewish grandfather who immigrated to NC in 1900 didn’t take his religion seriously and married a Methodist girl, or I, a NC born and bred back sliding screaming left wing Episcopalian, would not be enjoying the joys of Q.”  How’s that for an opening salvo?

Joel’s email continues, “My true religion is ultra orthodox right wing don’t even talk-to-me-about-using-gas hickory-smoked Eastern NC Q.  I am in a mixed marriage since my wife is from near Lexington and Salisbury NC.”  Since Mrs. Porky LeSwine is from Illinois, thankfully I do not have to deal with such contentious debates at my home.  After all, Illinois produces corn and corn is enjoyed in cornmeal form throughout both of North Carolina’s regional barbecue empires.  Of course, Mrs. LeSwine has never taken a shine to barbecue, so not all is well at my home.

Functional pig art by Joel Haas

Functional pig art by Joel Haas

Back to Joel.  In addition to being a left-wing Episcopalian and a right-wing Hickory Thumper, he is a professional sculptor.  Although he does not Continue reading

Our Barbecue Brethren

And you thought we were the only ones!

When our operative in New York–OK, John Shelton Reed–sent us this photo of the first other pig with yarmulke we’d seen, we were intrigued with a capital J.

Meet our sorta-kosher 'cue compadres

Meet our sorta-kosher 'cue compadres

After a bit of digging, we learned that this barbecue crew is the Semitic wing of Ubon’s Barbecue, of Yazoo City, Mississippi. Huh?

You can read the full story here, but the gist is this: Ubon’s has competed in the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party since 2004. David Rosen, a New York City guy (ahem), struck up a conversation with a member of the Ubon’s cooking team.

They guys struck up a friendship, which led to Rosen and some friends attending the Memphis in May “World” BBQ Championships. There, Rosen and his crew solidified the relationship and their love of the divine swine.

The four Jewish guys from NYC helped the Ubon’s team when it returned to New York in 2008 and went out on their own at the 2009 Memphis in May, in the “Patio Porkers Division.” Stunningly, they took fourth place in their division!

We’ll have an interview with Jubon’s David Rosen in the coming weeks, once he returns from a Caribbean spice scouting mission (aka a vacation).

For now, we’ll leave your sure-to-be-warmed heart with yet more heart warming:

When asked what a Jubon’s is, David replied “We’re four Jewish kids from New York City cooking barbeque in the Deep South — At least the salt is kosher!”

Hava NaGrilla

Summer doesn’t really heat up until the kosher barbecue festival circuit does. On that note, meat-lovers of all faiths should head to the Philadelphia area this Sunday for the Hava NaGrilla Kosher Barbecue Festival. The contest’s name stems from the popular hora dance, a.k.a.  “Hava Nagila.”

Odd that there’s no mention of pork anywhere on their site–there must be some sort of mistake, as my friends at Kosher Ham can attest. OK, fine–the festival’s organizers don’t share our opinion about pork being kosher.

Even chickens dance the hora.

Even chickens dance the hora.

Nevertheless, it sounds like a fun time. Local meteorologist Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz and the rest of the judges will issue awards for  best beans, brisket, chicken and ribs, in addition to most creative booth, best team name and grand champion.

There’s even kosher pickle eating contest and a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, which strikes me as both very Carolina and very incompatible with eating massive amounts of barbecue. Perhaps chicken is easier to digest than barbecue (pork).  Then again, all attendees will have to be on their toes for the many kick ass outbreaks of Hava Nagila sure to arise.

It’s all for a good cause–the Golden Slipper Club and Charities–so head on over if you’re in that part of the country. After all, we don’t get many chances to do a mitzvah by eating smoked meats.

Kosher Browsing

Somehow, the site Kosher Ham has escaped BBQ Jew’s gaze until now. Amazing, given our similarly-themed names. Well, consider it gazed upon.

The t-shirt-slinging site is aimed at “pragmatic, open-minded individuals that question the categorical idea of black and white.” Sounds about right.

image courtesy of Kosher Ham

image courtesy of Kosher Ham

Just as a word of warning, some of Kosher Ham’s shirts almost made us blush. Yet, many are inspired and several are sure to put smiles on the punims of you Jewish readers. For instance, I’m digging the Dr. Seuss/gefilte fish shirt. And this one‘s on my 2009 Hanukkah list.

For you enlightened gentiles, may I suggest this nice play on words.

One shirt is N.C.-specific, but it’s obviously made elsewhere (the site is based in Chicago). There’s no surer way to identify yourself as “not from here” than to pronounce our capital ‘Rally.’ Come on Kosher Ham, you’re better than that. This much better.

While we’re on the topic of t-shirts, be on the lookout for BBQ Jew gear in the near future. Certainly by Hanukkah. We promise they’ll pronounce Raleigh correctly (if at all) and feature plenty of bad BBQ Jew puns. Consider yourselves warned.

Pesach Special: A Matzoh ‘Cue Sandwich from New England

A buddy of mine, let’s call him The Jewish Gentile, sent me an email a couple of days ago that was too good not to share on this website.  TJG wrote, “I’m keeping Passover this year, but I really wanted a pulled pork sandwich. So I went to Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington, MA and got the North Carolina Pulled Pork Platter. Then I made myself this sandwich (see attached photo). And it was delicious.” 

Far be it from me, a much less observant Jew than TJG despite my bloodlines, to question whether he was abiding by the letter but not the spirit of Passover laws when he indulged in this multi-cultural treat (I’ll leave that discussion to him and his wife).  And let’s leave aside that the barbecue in between the matzoh was purchased in Massachusetts (I’ll leave that discussion to him and G-d).  The important thing is that TJG was inspired by the divine, acted on that inspiration, and documented his work the old fashioned way–with the digital photograph shown below.

A Passover delight.

A Passover delight.