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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Grillin' On The Bay - The Truth - Really

The legend of Grillin' On The Bay is well known, but like most things its beginnings are much more humble. Today I debunk the legend and tell you the truth.

I first entered into the world of competitive barbecue back in 2004. I looked around at who were the players from New York City and at the time only two names emerged; Sam Barbieri (I hope I got the spelling of his last name right) from the Waterfront Ale House and Robbie Richter from Big Island Barbecue. I got to know these two fine gentlemen and the fact that a guy from Brooklyn (Sam) and a guy from Queens (Robbie) were competing and winning, made me more determined to enter the fray, which I did that very summer by cooking with Phil Rizzardi as a member of The BBQ Brethren team.

In the off season I continued with my life as a parent and responsible citizen of Sheepshead Bay by serving on our local school's sports association board of directors. Now 2004 was not a particular good year for the sports association with rising costs nearly putting us out of business. One particularly dark and stormy night, our board met to discuss ways to raise some ducats without putting the touch on our usual band of suspects. We ended the meeting without any real new ideas, but we were determined not to let the organization fail.

Heading out to my car, I thought I heard someone call to me as I was pondering what a new fund raiser could be. Getting in my car my phone rang. It was Robbie. "Hey Rob, do you know where we could hold a barbecue contest in the city?" he asked. A light popped on in my head of such colors I had never seen on this earth and I replied "I have a place if we can make it a fund raiser."

The next week Robbie set up a meeting between me, him and Matt Fisher, aka The Hampton Smoker who is currently employed at RUB Barbecue and who quickly became one of my best friends, at the Union Square Barnes and Noble. We sat on one of the upper floors throwing out ideas about what we could do, who should do what and anything else we could think of. Things were looking good.

But there was one stumbling block; Robbie wanted to cook at Grillin' On The Bay (Yes, we came up with the name that very night!) After much discussion it was agreed that we all felt that an organizer shouldn't cook at his own event and Robbie stepped aside leaving Matt and I to put the contest together. Sometimes I wonder if he planned it that way all along.

Matt and I looked around and found that the New England BBQ Society had been hosting a one day contest every year up in Massachusetts called The Snowshoe Grilling Challenge. This event sounded like it was very similar to our ideas for Grillin' On The Bay and decided to check it out. I don't remember now if Matt came on that first trip to MA, but much of what Gary and Michelle Taft were doing we stole for our contest. Watching that contest, judging at it, I knew that Grillin' On The Bay was going to work.

NEBS was kind enough to agree to sanction our event and to supply the representatives who ran it. That's a story in and of itself and I'll get to that another day.

So, one a beautiful day in March 2004, Grillin' On The Bay was born. That's the truth and I'm sticking to it. Others may remember things differently, but this is how it was burned into my memory by a column of fire and smoke.

We are much indebted to the Tafts of the award winning barbecue team Lunchmeat, Robbie Richter, our continuing sponsor, RUB BBQ, the guys at the Waterfront Ale House for donations to the event every year and the rest of the NEBS board of directors for the success of this "little" Brooklyn event. We couldn't have done it without them.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Just A Rumor

Heard on the street....

Ruby's Famous of East Meadow NY, will soon be departing from the barbecue business.

Remember - it's only a rumor, but you heard it here first.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Grillin' On The Bay - The Beginings

I've often been asked about the origins of Grillin' On The Bay. Why a barbecue contest in New York City? Why in Brooklyn? Why on the bay? Well, it's a complicated story and today I will tell you. Settle down now, cozy up under your snuggie and get comfortable. It's an long read.

It was a dark and stormy night. A night perfect for barbecue. Rain and sleet teasing the flames whilst the winds whipped the smoke into dense clouds. It was one of those nights that separates the men from the boys. Only the men and women who love the Que and party at the altars of Bacchus and Vulcan would brave such a night to stoke the flames while preparing perfectly cooked food for their deserving and hungry families.

There I stood, manipulating the flames and dominating the fire to my will to perfectly tease the flavor out of a chicken that had willing sacrificed itself to the gods of fire, while a shadowy figure called to me from down the alley.

"You - you who grill on the bay," he called.

"Huh?" I answered. "Keep walking Bud. There's nothing for you to see here."

"You, mortal - the gods have been aroused by the sweet aroma of your burnt offerings."

"Burnt? Fuggehtabouit! Ya stupid bastard. What the hell are you talking about. Get the F--- (substitute the queen mother of dirty words here) outta here ya bum. I ain't no amateur. I don't burn my food," I replied angrily.

At that the figure was immediately engulfed in smoke and flame of such colors I had never seen on earth and its voice grew both in volume and depth. "Do not disrespect that which you do not understand," he bellowed while huge flames leaped out of my fire box.

"Thou has angered the gods of smoke and flame. I demand a sacrifice to amend your transgression."

"Look bud - I already told ya - Get the f--- outta here! I don't got no food for you. This ain't some whitetrash bumbf--- town. You're in Brooklyn and we don't take no shit from no one. You're all cute with the smoke and mirrors and shit, but get the f--- outta here before I grill your ass." I yelled back in as menacing Brooklynese I could muster.

Enraged it grew in size until it blocked the sky transforming into huge column of smoke and fire. I dropped my tongs and stood in awe. Holy shit - was this thing for real?

"Thou hast offended us greatly," its voice roared. "I command you to offer a sacrifice. On the last Saturday of March from this night forward thou shall gather like minded mortals to this site where you and your brethren (no - not that brethren - though they are always welcome) will offer a minimum of four species of burnt offerings to appease us and atone for your sin."

"You have been condemned to grill on the bay until our anger is appeased," it commanded. And just like that it was gone. My fire was out and my chicken burnt to ashes. "Sonofabitch - I guess he did get his burnt offering after all." I stood there looking at the remnants of what should have been a tasty meal and pondered what I had experienced. Could this have been real?

As I walked back into the garage to get some more wood to build a new fire, it hit me. "New York is too great a city to not have a barbecue contest." "Why not gather on the last Saturday of March and cook?"

That photo above is some of the "burnt offerings" from Grillin' On The Bay inn 2006. Hopefully this year's teams will be just as creative.

You now know the legend. Stay tuned for the real story.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Making of a Barbecue Contest

I'm tired of looking at the computer screen. I've spent the day sending out invites and notifications for NYC's only sanctioned barbeque contest: Grillin' On The Bay and The Brooklyn Chili Smackdown. Literally, I've been working on this since 10:00 this morning and now it's almost 5. Enough. I wish I was getting paid!

I will write more about the contest and the work it takes to put it together, but not tonight.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A New Decade - A New Attitude

I had an interesting conversation with a friend today about WhiteTrash BBQ and he mentioned that he felt that WhiteTrash BBQ has become a blog "that seems to be holding back." Contemplating his comments, I think know he's right.

I have been holding back. I won't be anymore. I am re-targeting this blog to get back to my adventures in the barbecue world; be they good or bad. I'll talk about it all. Without care to outcome or to who winds up with sauce on their face. I've had to extradite my foot from my mouth many times in the past and if I have to do it again so be it.

I'm not looking to hurt anyone's feelings or to expose or promote anyone or any thing, but it's time to be honest again. (Well, I do promote myself and my interests and that will continue.)

I'm not going to worry about how any of my posts are perceived any longer. It takes too much work. I've spent hours composing posts from restaurant reviews, to comments about judging, to posts about the politics of barbecue and redacted anything I felt could cause controversy only to be slammed for my opinion time and time again. I'm done. To use an old phrase - let the chips fall where they may.

I want to get back to my thoughts. My feelings. Where I want to be.

I'm putting together Grillin' On The Bay for the 5th year now, and there are a lot of things to talk about. Things like putting together the event, getting the teams, the judges, the sponsors, the money etc and so forth. I don't think that's been covered anywhere on the net. At least not in a true fashion. It's all been sanitized for public consumption.

I think of myself primarily as a barbecue cook; not as a judge, an organizer or as a blogger. I plan to talk about that. Even though I wear many hats, I don't know how the barbecue community sees me. I'm giving up on my inner thoughts and condemnations for not being able to cook, judge, blog or even organize as much as I would like or as much as it seems others do. I still haven't found a way to make this pay my bills and until I do, WhiteTrash BBQ will always have to take second place to my family, my faith and my home and I'm not going to apologize for that.

I've got a few items that I promised to review and those posts will be going up this week. None of these products are barbecue related but after that, if it's not a product related to my barbecue adventure, and only I can define what that is, those products will not appear here.

There was a bravado that resonated around the NYC barbecue community when I started this blog. I'm claiming my spot again. I'm not going to be all to everyone, it's going to be all about me, me, and me. Sounds selfish doesn't it? But I believe it's the only way this is going to work. I hope you stick around.

Friday, January 15, 2010

KCBS Here I Come

Off to Philadelphia for the annual Kansas City BBQ Society Banquet. Talk to you next week!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tonight Only at the Water Front Ale House


Left Hand Brewery Night
Thursday 1-14-10 6-8PM
Come meet the brewers


Photograph courtesy of Pig Trip. Used without permission, but I'm pretty sure it's OK.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tailgate Party!

This came into my e-mail today. It's some great news. Now Git-r-done!

NEW YORK, January 11, 2010 – Game on! COMEDY CENTRAL viewers are invited to attend the ultimate tailgate party with Larry The Cable Guy! Filmed in front of more than 50,000 people at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, the World Television Premiere of "Larry The Cable Guy: Tailgate Party," debuts Sunday, January 31 at 9:00 p.m.

Thanking his fans with $4 tickets at Memorial Stadium, Larry The Cable Guy performs in the largest comedy show ever recorded. With a truckload of new material about TV, hot dogs and “buying in bulk,” Larry gives his fans in Nebraska and on COMEDY CENTRAL one tailgate party worth celebrating in this brand-new, one-hour stand-up special debuting Sunday, January 31 on COMEDY CENTRAL.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lazy Days of Summer

Ah, the lazy days of summer. That's a picture of our site at the Hudson Valley Ribfest in August of 2007 before the chaos really began. I can't wait to get back there.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Suicide Food?

Check out this amazing website called Suicide Food. It's an interesting and sarcastic take on how many food stuff logos show animals happily marching off to death, killing themselves, serving up their companions for your consumption or simply refusing to dominate the world. I don't know if the author is a vegetarian or not, but his snarky comments are usually right on and dead ass funny.

It also pokes fun at most of the competitive barbecue team's logos! I know of just about all these logos and the legendary teams behind them. At least half of Suicide Food is dedicated to the art of the barbecue team logo.

They don't forget all the barbecue contest logos as well. My own Grillin' On The Bay, New York City's only sanctioned barbecue contest received the Suicide Food treatment...

"Case in point, this pig. He could rampage through Sheepshead Bay kaiju-style, leaving carnage and bloodshed in his wake. He could fill the people with a fear so toxic it would haunt their hearts forever. Or, he could walk away from the monstrous grill constructed for him. But he doesn't.

He just hunkers down, a bemused smile on his face, comfortable in the knowledge that his cooked flesh will feed many."

Yes, Grillin' On The Bay does feed many! Be sure to come check it out on March 27, 2010 right here in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn. That's in New York City! Teams and judges are signing up now.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2 worlds

Can one serve two masters?

Can one have his feet firmly placed in two words?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, January 01, 2010


I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, but after the crap decade of the zero's, I think I need to restart, refocus and rethink almost every aspect of my life. 2010 sounds like a great time to start anew.

I want to look over everything; career, health, hobbies, education, employment, domicile, manner of dress, attitude; everything from top to bottom.

And that includes this blog. I've been writing this here WhiteTrash BBQ blog for five and a half years and I wonder if I've brought it as far as it's going to go in its present incarnation. What do I have left to say to you that would keep readers coming back?

Haven't I done it all before? Do you really want to read another post on the different types of wood used for cooking when I wrote one back in 2004? Do you want a new post on cooking using The Minion Method? If it's not fresh, new and interesting to me, how do I make it interesting to you?

I can talk about barbecue till the cows come home - but how many posts do you want to read about ribs, chicken, brisket or whatever? Is it becoming stale? Don't get me wrong, I still love barbecue and the flames, but have I said all I need and can say here? Is it time to close this book and start a new one?

The blog was created to "document my feelings, thoughts and creation process in creating the future World Championship BBQ team. White Trash BBQ. I will be creating the best BBQ in the world which will be available exclusively at my restaurant."

While I still want to have a world championship team, I wonder if starting a restaurant is a realistic goal at my "advanced" age. And if these two things are really my goal, why haven't I made more progress towards accomplishing them in the 5 1/2 year WTBBQ has been around? Am I being honest with myself? It's all coming full circle.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it's time to
restart, refocus and rethink.

EDIT: After getting a few emails, I need to clarify this post a little bit. I have not yet decided to pull the plug on WhiteTrash BBQ. I am rethinking it, I may retool it or I may decide to kill it. I'm just trying to figure out what's best for me and my future goals. Thanks for the comments and the insights. They're greatly appreciated and will help me determine the future of WhiteTrash.

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