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Kosher BBQ heats up - anyone have an explanation?

Full confession: my heart - and my stomach - belong to the vegetable department. I would go further out of my way for a perfect tomato than for a perfect steak.

This may be why I was blindsided by the wave of kosher BBQ. There's the day school in Tennessee that air freights BBQ. There's Ari White who tours the greater New York Jewish communities with a BBQ smoker-on wheels (it looks something like Robert Stephenson's rocket http://media-1.web.britannica.com/eb-...). There's a new BBQ joint in Rockville. Milt's BBQ in Chicago There's even a BBQ place in Lakewood (imagine, a cutting-edge foodie trend in Lakewood). And all of them have opened within the the last couple of years, Chicago and Rockville this month alone.

What gives?

I have a theory. Kosher diners are notorious for unimaginatively equating a large steak with a nice restaurant meal. But even in pretty stodgy parts of the haimish community (I'm looking at you Lakewood, and at the Five Towns where shuls have hosted the Wandering Que) there is a growing interest in the food scene. BBQ isn't a new thing, it's been hot in the more general American food scene for years. But for the traditonal among us, the thing about a BBQ is that no one is trying to make you eat seaweed salad, carrot foam, or - gasp - kale. These kosher BBQ places are offering a big hunk of meat in the guise of a hip culinary experience.

Or is kosher BBQ is suddenly popular simply because we suddenly have sophisticated pit bosses producing great kosher BBQ?

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  1. Dunno. I kinda like the large steak. Could I get that well done please, with a side of smothered onions and some plain rice?

    10 Replies
      1. re: SoCal Mother

        Ah but it's brisket so it has to be well done. Problem solved.

        But you have to admit that Jews have enjoyed pastrami and smoked salmon way before any of this came along.

        1. re: SoCal Mother

          You must be the product of a mixed marriage to prefer rice to potatoes.

          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

            I prefer rice to potatoes...............
            and yes I come from a mixed marriage.

            Mom's side is German
            Dad's side is Litvak (peasants from the East)

            I'm already 5th generation American and wonder what if anything your quip has to do with my dislike of potatoes?

            1. re: bagelman01

              bagelman01- Both sides are potato cultures. You must be some sort of gastro-apikoiros. By mixed I was referring to the product of an Ashkenazi and Sefardi marriage. I once knew someone with one parent Hungarian, the other Moroccan. Couscous with goose schmaltz, merguez and lecso! Eegen yallah!

              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                No, you are now considered a gastro apikoros if you don't eat sushi with your pizza or if you don't have at least 5 kinds of dips on Shabbos.

                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  Never saw the German Oma make potatoes.
                  The usual starch was spaetzel

                  and she came to us for Pesach, so there were potatoes, but usually sweet potatoes, not white

              2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                Well, socal likes to have something exciting once in a while. Like fried onions on a bagel. :)

                1. re: arifree

                  I just saw hot cross bagels. By appearance, they looked sort of pumpernickel with raisins. I don't know if the dough rises once or twice.

                  1. re: arifree

                    arifree, someone once gave me a corned beef sandwich on a bagel. Tasted better than it sounds.

              3. I think it's the latter. Ari is a genius who markets his wares impressively, and others are catching wind and wanting to ride the wave.

                1. If I can toss in my two shekels...there is certainly more and more great que happening everywhere with smoked goodies making cameos on menus across the country : Think Mike's Bistro, Pardes, and Abigails in NY. New bbq joints lighting up in Illinois, Maryland, Texas, California and even Canada. Underground Eats the likes of Hassid+Hipster and IZZY's BBQ Addiction are smokin up Brooklyn backyards with everything from classic short ribs to duck prosciutto. Southside Sandwich Shop in Lakewood is operating a legit smoking rig. And if you're looking for the kale salad thing, offerings with inventive and seasonal sides check out what Chef Josh Massin is turning out at Nobo alongside his killer smoked offerings. I don't know if it's a result of the paleo movement, or as Chef Ottolenghi, known for his famous use and love of vegetables, said on the Taste last week (refferring to making a vegetarian entree sing), that once you're smoking it, your halfway there. The smoke from real wood burning is simply transformative, not just on meats, or veg but even milchigs....think Basil. With so many new places opening up around the country and the bbq competition circuit nationwide and strong and fast growing as ever, I'd don't think this will be a fast passing fad. I'm 3 generations into it myself, and have 3 boys who will make up #4. As far as I see it, this is a movement to stay.

                  *note for the Mods * I am a chef and pitboss, owner of Gemstone Catering and the Wandering Que and I love that Kosher BBQ and the art of Smoking have finally begun to catch on!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: gotcholent

                    Speaking of shekels, can I toss you a whole bagful in exchange for some ribs?!

                    Seriously, though, I think you hit it on the head with "new places." There's so many new places and only enough room for meat/potatoes and fish/salad/pasta. Being bold brings customers

                    1. re: gotcholent

                      Oh I'm pro-smoking. I love the meat I've eaten from Wandering Q. And amazing things Moshe Wendel smokes at Pardes (smoked egg yolk, heavenly)

                      But I was surprised by the sudden popularity. BBQ, after all, is hardly new. And other kinds of Restaurants (Mexican, Thai) have risen to popularity while largely bypassing the kosher community. Then, suddenly, this wave of BBQ

                        1. re: AdinaA

                          I think it also has a lot to do with availability of ingredients and accessibility of flavor. Texas BBQ is just different enough to be new and interesting without being so hard to "get" that it scares people away. In contrast with, say, Thai or other Asian cuisines, the raw ingredients for Texas BBQ are very accessible to kosher cooks (no hunting for obscure Asian noodles or impossible-to-find fish sauce). For the consumer, while the flavors may be far beyond what they are used to eating off a backyard grill, at least the flavor profiles are somewhat familiar and not too intimidating, unlike Thai, for example, which is famous for funky, sour flavors that can be intimidating to a Western palate.

                      1. I think it's both. There's so much access to food these days- social media plays a huge role. It's so easy to see what other people are cooking, eating, and buying. BBQ is big all over, and the from community wants a bite. You also have the guys who are making it possible and producing some really great stuff. (Friends of mine went to a wandering que event. They ate, got takeout for the next day, and also bought $300 worth of food for us and other friends. So you have people who will spend, which is important)

                        I'm also going to say that the thing with meat is that it's black and white. It's not like kale or strawberries in that there's a grey area whether it's kosher. Sure, a hunk of ribs isn't cheap, but it's crowd pleasing.

                        1. I think it's just the latest fad which as usual is trailing the secular world. The first guy opens and he gets press, so then the next tries to copy him. When that guy gets press too more guys pile on in different cities. It's like the Subway fad a couple years ago, although hopefully this one will have better long term results.

                          It also helps that Texas BBQ tends to feature kosher ingredients so the dishes don't need too many modifications. I think the other trends you mention below are newer in the secular world, so we should expect to see them appear in the kosher world in another couple years. Maybe Mexikosher is that first place which will spark others.

                          1. I would also add the explosion of comunity/shul run BBQ contests - I have always liked grilling/smoking on my own and I think enterprising chefs are realizing that there is a market for BBQ for those of us who at times are too tired to fire up our own smokers as well as join the BBQ trend in the traif world - The times I have been to Milt's the majority of the clientele did not appear to be there because it was kosher.

                            1. Jeepers! Nobody remembers Smokin'! anymore, and nobody has mentioned Smokey Joe's, which went into business a few months before that. Back in 2008, when the cuisine was still gaining popularity and legitimacy in the general market as well (although, to be honest, it had just about gained legitimacy there by that time). IT's very easy to account for its popularity. Meat. Smoked meat, to be exact. It's compelling, it's simple,

                              The simplicity is why it's becoming popular now. Anybody can do it with a minimum of training, and with practice, anybody can do it well, at least at home. You don't need a culinary degree, and experience, short of scale-up, can be had in one's backyard. It's casual. In the nonkosher market, it's done on disposables- limited clean-up (I did not like the pressure the Jewish Community place on me to serve on china, making more clean-up and complicating matters enormously, causing me to need extra personnel, extending my day for at least an hour more cleaning). It's easy to understand. It's fast food (made in advance, just requiring cutting and serving) It is takeout, at its most basic.

                              It works in the general market. It didn't work for me in the kosher market in 2008, but people are more used to the concept no: The aforementioned china. The desire in the market for sitdown rather than takeout. The desire for waitstaff supporting the sit-down, these conspired against Smokin'!, but now people are more used to the idea of casual, really casual dining. And the greater understanding that pink meat is not underdone, even for those who enjoy well-done meat. So the answer is that people are simply more used to the idea now than they were 5 or 6 years ago.

                              27 Replies
                              1. re: ganeden

                                "So the answer is that people are simply more used to the idea now than they were 5 or 6 years ago."

                                5 or 6 years ago there was an occasional TV program about bbq on Food Chanel, etc.
                                Now it is mainstream and I find more than 10 half hours each day on my cable guide.

                                The demand has been created by the media.

                                Personally, it's not new to me, but I am not a cliff dweller. I grew up in the 'country' where we had a built in bbq in the yard.
                                I not only have a full outdoor kitchen, but last year the town finally gave in and let me build a small brick smokehouse.
                                I am a carnivore. In my single years I kept a fleishiges only kitchen. I only really have dairy for the wife and kids.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  I can't be the only one who imagines bagelman01's house as a Wonka factory of kosher foodie perfection. :)

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    Sorry, but I don't agree. A lot of these guys don't watch TV- the Lakewood and Brooklyn crowd, for instance. The advertisers are not paying to change the tastes of America. They are paying for the shows that cater to the tastes of America. People finally discovered that those rundown old joints served some very tasty food, and they were ubiquitous, and the food was cheap. It became popular enough to spawn shows, and the popularity of those shows spawned more shows. Jews interacted with goyim and became curious, and they acted out on their curiosity. Some of them went public. People found it compelling, and more went public. It helps and helped that diners and dives became fashionable due to their histories and product mix and prices, so cheap food became fashionable. But kosher BBQ is not cheap, and can't be. But it can be good. The demand was not created by the media, but the media helped to create a feedback loop that accelerated what was bound to happen anyway.

                                    1. re: ganeden

                                      "A lot of these guys don't watch TV- the Lakewood and Brooklyn crowd, for instance"

                                      Yes, but the demand for kosher bbq is NOT just from the frum crowd. If you read my response to Gotcholent. I emntioned the fact that he is coming here to Fairfield, CT in April sponsored by a Conservative Egalitarian synagogue. That same synagogue is hosting the First Southern New England Kosher BBQ competition in September under sanction of World Kosher BBQ Championship in Memphis.

                                      The crowd who will attend in Fairfield, including my family, watches TV, doesn't live in an isolated American self imposed ghetto such as Lakewood, New Square or Boro Park (where my great grandfather had a farm more than 100 years ago), but mixes with general modern society.
                                      They have wanted BBQ, have seen it proliferate on TV and in local restaurants, BUT since this is not TEXAS, the majority of BBQ available has been pork, so it was not of interest.
                                      In the hinterlands, kosher meat is/was expensive. Brisket was not a cheap cut, so paying going rates for kosher brisket BBQ seems reasonable,
                                      All trendy food gets expensive. Growing up, Pizza came in three sizes (S,M,L) and cost $1, $2, $3. Now it's not cheap food, it's trendy food and costs $10, $15 and $20. Deli and burgers were cheap food, less than $1 for a sandwich. Today that burger is $10+ and a corned beef or Pastrami sandwich can easily be $16.
                                      The frum crowd with large broods of kids and tuition bills may find all of this prohibitive, BUT there are many upper middle class Jews withmore than adequate disposable income willing to pay the price for non-pork BBQ.

                                      The Pop-up and competition model will be sucessful and I and my friends/neighbors will attend. BUT, almost none of us would support/visit the plethora of new BBQ restaurants. Why? We are tired of the poorly run kosher establishments. Just serving kosher food is not enough, they need to run their businesses properly...............

                                      AND>>>>we are tired of being looked down upon by the holier than thou frummies who patronize these places, If I put on a suit and a black suede kipah, I'm acceptable. BUT my wife ( a beautiful blonde-I biased) who has big 80s natural uncovered hair, wears pants and makeup (no that's not how she dresses fro shul) will either be ignored or gossipped about. But at a popup BBQ such as Ari runs, she can be confortable in jeans, and boots and no one will make her feel uncomfortable.

                                      There are plenty of non-frum Jews willing to spend big money for quality kosher food.............

                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                        Note a city missing from the list: Houston, TEXAS. That's right, no kosher BBQ in Houston.

                                        Maybe some popup should pop over.

                                        1. re: SoCal Mother

                                          I haven't been in Houston for about 10 years, but back then I had a number of friends who lived there. I was served BBQ that they made on their own equipment in their backyards.
                                          I think that BBQ is so much a part of the Texas culture that local Jews may not see the need for a BBQ restaurant, it's just something they make at home.........

                                          I smoke my own meats at home, but I'm the exception in the northeast. Here bbq is viewed as cooking on an outdoor grill, not the long slow smoke cooking of the south

                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                            Agreed! And when you talk about communities that at best have 1 maybe more kosher restaurants to choose from in the first place, restauranteurs are more likely to open up something that A) People won't do on their own at home and B) can also gain at least minimal traction with the locals as well. Roadside BBQ is cheap and ubiquitous back home. Still, it's so great to see not 1 but 2 joints breaking ground over there. And in line with your thought BM, it's interesting to note that of everywhere I know back home, Austin with it's UT students and Dallas with it's tremendous Kollel communities have the most non-native yidden of anywhere in the state making up a massive share of the market for these two new bbq joint. Just wait till they get hit up by one of the numerous bbq posses or Daniel Vaughn, aka, BBQ Snob, aka Texas Monthly's BBQ critic. The Gents have a high bar to live up to compared to what some up here in the North East get away with calling Texas BBQ and Tex-Mex in general.

                                            1. re: gotcholent


                                              You are quite a bit younger than me, so I have a differnt perspective on some things.

                                              I made my first visit to El Paso in 1961. We went to visit Jewish friends who owned a maor clothing manufacturing facility there (dad was their biggest customer in the northeast).

                                              They had us to their home on a Sunday for a full blown kosher Texas BBQ. I tried many of the Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes made by their household staff.

                                              50 years later and with all the Tex-Mex and Mexican food available here in CT (especially from all the illegal immigrants) it is not the same thing. The recipes have aall been tweaked based on availability of ingredients and their freshness, as well as the region in Mexico from which the cook hails.

                                              AND the beef is NOT the same.

                                              That locally grown and shecht Texas beef was so much better than the boxed beef coming out of Iowa.

                                              I am spoiled, I like local fresh meat and there are few local shochtim available who can/will shecht privately. There are also very few local meat processors who are under state supervision where one can make arrangements. As soon as anything ships interstate the USDA is involved and it makes everything so much harder.

                                              The Tristate Jewish community is large enough that we should be able to support a local slaughtering operation and not rely on Iowa and South America for our beef. Local is better

                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                By any chance does the Piser family in Texas ring a bell?
                                                I knew their son many years ago.

                                                1. re: chicago maven

                                                  The Horwitz/Rubin family owned the company that manufactured Billy The Kid boy's play clothing from the 1930s on in El Paso

                                                2. re: bagelman01

                                                  Grow and Behold is from Rochester NY. That's where Pardes gets their meat.

                                                  1. re: arifree

                                                    They are based in Rochester, but use assorted unamed slaughterhouses, whose locations are not divulged on their website.

                                                    Unfortunately, ,ail order operations such as Grow and Behold do not offer the meats/cuts as I might desire them.

                                                    I would never buy 'ground beef' just by fat content. They offer 85 and 90% lean.

                                                    For cooking outside on the grill I want 80%, for meatloaf or meatballs, want 90+%. For hamburgers I want ground neck and skirt (not offered), meatballs and meatloaf are fine with mixed chuck, but for stuffing peppers or cabbage, I use only shoulder 95% lean, or the rice in the stuffing may get a greasy feel.

                                                    Now most consumers/home cooks would noty differentiate ground beef this way, but I do. I also prefer an inside skirt steak to an outside skirt steak.

                                                    This is why I prefer to buy forequarters and break them down myself...................

                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      In a restaurant, this is not an issue because they cut the lean from the fat and can then come up with any fat ratio they want. It's hard for home cooks to do that unless they are cooking for a lot of people.

                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                        The owner may be from Rochester, but I'm fairly sure the warehouse and operations are in Brooklyn.

                                                        Also, it looks like you can order a forequarter from Grow and Behold. The basic order seems to be already broken down, but I wonder if you could arrange to get the whole forequarter if you called.

                                                        1. re: avitrek

                                                          Why would I need him? As I stated in an ealier posting, I can get a local shochet to slaughter at a local farm and my non-Jewish neighbor takes the hindquarters.

                                                          I have no problem breaking down and packaging (as well as kashering) the beef myself.

                                                  2. re: gotcholent

                                                    Far as I know the only thing kosher in Austin is a food truck and the only thing kosher in San Antonio is Green Vegetarian.

                                                  3. re: bagelman01

                                                    Yep. A few years back, we had a local rebbitzen who was no slouch of a cook herself, but her mother, whose cooking I never got a chance to taste, was reputed to smoke a mean brisket and bake outstanding biscuits. They were from Texas. This is just basic home cooking to people from that area.

                                                    One of the specialties at our house is called "Pig Pickin' Chicken." That's chicken seasoned and cooked in the same way that locals do whole hog barbecue. We make that when the neighbors hold a pig picking. It's just the was folks eat around here. :-)

                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      I suppose...

                                                      Guess I need to buy a grill. Not ready to get a smoker yet.

                                                      Still I am curious what the local Kosher Chili Cook-off will be like.

                                                      1. re: SoCal Mother

                                                        If you buy a Weber kettle style charcoal grill, you can use it for smoking as well. It is not an expensive way to try smoking. The Green Eggs are so expensive that I don't recommend them for beginners or those who only smoke meat occasionally.

                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                          I know its not the preferred approach, but I have been getting some good results with my weber gas grill. Hope to graduate to a real smoker this year.

                                                    2. re: SoCal Mother

                                                      My sister got smoked brisket years ago from a fried chicken place there. She's been a longtime resident of Houston. Her shul has a smoker in the parking lot (Young Israel). Evidently, BBQ is done, just not in a restaurant dedicated to it.

                                                      1. re: ganeden

                                                        The Yeshiva in Memphis now has their own smoker and brings over the pit masters from one of the local places (Corky's) to smoke their brisket and ribs for fundraisers and they are doing it again for Purim -

                                                      2. re: SoCal Mother

                                                        I had this idea, open a kosher BBQ place called The Burning Bush and have as the logo a stylized oil derrick flaring. Then my wife told me that would divorce me.

                                                        Ex- Okie.

                                                    3. re: ganeden

                                                      Re tv- you'd be surprised! All the adults I know (even those much more frum than me) have some access to TV. Many watch netflix or hulu. It's not really spoken about but it's there

                                                    4. re: bagelman01

                                                      I called Temple Beth El, Fairfield, CT for more details about the April 6 BBQ event. The person answering the phone only knew about the September event. Has April been cancelled?

                                                      1. re: bubbyrebecka

                                                        Please check Ari's website - http://www.gotcholent.com/Hakadosh_BB... for an update on all his Pop Up dates. By the way - From now on Ari White will be know as the artist formerly known as Hakadosh BBQ

                                                        1. re: bubbyrebecka

                                                          The date has been changed to May 4th, 2014. Congregation Beth El 1200 Fairfield Woods Road Fairfield, CT

                                                    5. Here's a short list of up and coming Kosher que joints popping up around the country:
                                                      Fuego - Miami - FL - http://www.fuegobymana.com/
                                                      Blue Star - North Bethesda - MD - http://www.bluestarkosher.com
                                                      Joe Bob BBQ - Austin - Tx - http://www.joebobsbbq.com/
                                                      Texas Kosher BBQ - Dallas - Tx - http://www.texaskosherbbq.com/
                                                      MEAT - Crown Heights - NY - by the owners of BASIL
                                                      Izzy's BBQ Addiction - Crown Heights - NY - https://www.facebook.com/izzysbbq
                                                      Southside Sandwich Shop - Lakewood - NJ - https://www.facebook.com/SouthSideSan...

                                                      On top of that as was mentioned before, the kosher bbq circuit is also growing exponentially with new competitions popping up nearly every year everywhere from the great Lone State to the newest this year in New England. The word is out. The people have spoken, and they want real bbq. Now we'll see who steps up and is able to pump it out right.

                                                      As requested by the MODS, it's here that I'm supposed to say that I am the Wandering Que's pitboss and the Chef/Owner of Gemstone Catering and have no connection or ownership regarding any of the new bbq joints listed above.

                                                      17 Replies
                                                      1. re: gotcholent

                                                        Look forward to your coming to Fairfield April 6th at Beth El. CHers should note that the demand for kosher Q is NOT just in the frum community. The host synagogue is a Conservative Egalitarian congregation.

                                                        BTW>>>They will be hosting:
                                                        First Annual
                                                        Southern New England Kosher BBQ
                                                        Championship and Festival
                                                        Sunday, September 7, 2014
                                                        Sanctioned by:
                                                        World Kosher BBQ Championship in Memphis, Tennessee

                                                        No need for me to schlep to Long Island this year

                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                          I'm going to be a table captain there. So excited! You definitely should attend. The guy you just responded to will also be catering the event for public consumption, from what I've been told. (I am not affiliated with the event.)

                                                          1. re: tamarw

                                                            It is my plan to be at both. In fact I was invited to work with a local team at the Sept. competition, but would rather be a spectator.

                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                              I hope you find me and say hello :)

                                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                                            Bumping this............
                                                            Yesterday driving through Trumbull, Northern Bridgeport and Fairfield on business:

                                                            Lawn signs are up all over the area announcing the Kosher BBQ Festival for Sunday 0907.

                                                            Local press is on board and there should be a good turnout with all kinds of festival type activities besides the BBQ.

                                                            I have to be in NJ until 1, but will hit this on the way home and look forward to having some of Ari's Q.

                                                            I know many of the local team members and having had their food previously it should be a great event. The best local backyard smoker (whose team competed in Long Island last year) told me his team is ready to take on the out of state contingent.


                                                            The picture is taken from a collage on the event website. CH Kosher board regulars may recognize 'Got Cholent' in the photo

                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                              This is what you are talking about. I am one of the teams that competes (Breaking BBQ). There is some great food being put out by many teams. And, this year, there will be a chance after all the categories have been submitted for guests to go around and try everyone's BBQ (as opposed to asking for it while we are cutting and boxing it) and then get to vote for their favorite.

                                                              Hope to see you all there.

                                                              1. re: azcohen

                                                                I'll do my best to stop at your booth

                                                                1. re: azcohen

                                                                  I didn't make it back in time from NJ (traffic). One of my neighbors stopped at your group and said everything looked and smelled great.

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    Thanks, we did pretty well. We took first in chicken, 5th in ribs, and 3rd in team booth design, and 4th in team name

                                                                    1. re: azcohen

                                                                      Mazel Tov....I heard good things from friends who stopped at your booth, and a friend who was a competitor

                                                                        1. re: azcohen

                                                                          Check you other box on FB for a message. CH is not the place to post someone's real life name without permission.

                                                                          Saw a nice writeup in the local Monroe, CT paper this week as well.

                                                            2. re: gotcholent

                                                              LA just jumped back onboard too... Holy Kosher BBQ cart coming soon. Ganeden, you'll have to let us know how it holds up! http://yeahthatskosher.com/2014/02/ho...

                                                              1. re: gotcholent

                                                                Looks like it's just grilled dogs and sausages.

                                                              2. re: gotcholent

                                                                Another pit on the block...Just caught wind of a new kosher bbq outfit settling in and offering catering and direct sales from the 5towns "The Hickory BBQ" http://www.thehick-ory.com/ Pictures look good, nice offset pit stick burner with reverse flow and big enough to feed a sizable crowd. Anyone try these guys out yet?

                                                                1. re: gotcholent

                                                                  Sounds awesome! However, I would like to see pics of their food, not food from other BBQ sites.

                                                                  http://www.grouprecipes.com/41365/coc... (btw, this image is from Getty and they seem to be aggressively protecting their copyrights--38 sites have stolen the image and very few seem to remain)

                                                                  1. re: gotcholent

                                                                    Ari, Just wanted to let you know your delicious BBQ was a hit in Staten Island. The food made the trip from Paramus and I followed your teams instructions for reheating and it tasted like it just came out of the smoker. Amazing beans also. I will definitely talk to your cousin. And to all you chowhounds out there-- if you have an opportunity to try "wandering que" do not hesitate to do so.

                                                                2. I think the Baal Teshuva (literally, master of return or repentance, i.e. a Jew who has "returned" by taking on the mitzvot of Torah including sabbath observance, keeping kosher, etc.) phenomenon has brought into the kosher market many people (both chefs and customers)e who have eaten very good food and wine at very good restaurants, pushing the kosher market to expand its offerings in variety and quality. Many BTs are professionals with disposable income who can indulge their discriminating palates.

                                                                  Some have tasted the best non-kosher BBQ examples and now demand better than Dougie's in Teaneck. And the Internet and food-oriented cable TV channels have helped in spreading stories of gastronomic heights (e.g. pop-up BBQ stands) and recipes that can be adapted for the kosher market.

                                                                  1. A simple explanation. It used to be that NYC was the center of the Kosher world but traditional BBQ just couldn't be done. The Board of Health won't allow any kitchen to make a fire with wood and smoke for 12 hours and nobody has any space to do anything outdoors. However, more Jews, with the resources to support a decent restaurant, moved away from the city and now it is possible to make it work.

                                                                    So, instead of 'the rest of the country' looking at NYC for direction and copying them, they are now following their own path. Not every restaurant has to be another steakhouse/sushi with molten chocolate volcano cake for dessert just because it's still popular in NYC.