Brooklyn, NY – They came from all across New York City and beyond to compete for the title of Brisket King of NYC, but in the end, it was kosher pit master Sruly Eidelman of Izzy’s BBQ Addiction in Crown Heights who walked away with a gold crown and a first place trophy of a bronze bull after beating out approximately 20 non-kosher competitors in the annual smoke off.
This year’s event was the sixth annual Brisket King NYC, an event co-created by restaurateur Jimmy Carbone who has hosted numerous food challenges over the years.
Originally titled “A Brisket, A Brasket” and intended to highlight the beauty of brisket, the event has shifted over the years to focus on barbeque and was won last year for the first time by a glatt kosher brisket-whisperer, Ari White of The Wandering Que.
While traditionally the reigning Brisket King serves as one of the judges in the following year’s competition, White found himself in a bit of a dilemma as the competition approached.
“Needless to say this isn’t like wine tasting where you can just taste something and spit it out into a bucket,” White told VIN News. “I had to forfeit my judging seat because most of the meats weren’t kosher but it was more than well filled by three rock stars of the barbeque world.”
Among those judges was Daniel Vaughn, a well known barbeque historian and barbeque critic for Texas Monthly Magazine. Another was Aaron Franklin of Austin, Texas, whose Franklin Barbeque sells out daily by 2 PM, with lines forming every morning as early as 8 AM.
“Once when President Obama came to town he cut the line at Franklin’s Barbeque and then bought out the entire barbeque and gave it to the people he had just cut,” said White. “Another time Kanye West tried doing the same thing and he was told that he was no President Obama and that he had to stand on line just like everyone else.”
This year’s Brisket King NYC drew more than 500 people to the Food Sciences Academy of Long Island University in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn on April 19th. An official proclamation by Borough President Eric Adams established the day as Brooklyn Brisket Day, celebrating Kings County’s diverse culinary traditions.
With the competition held on Isru Chag, Eidelman was faced with unique challenges in order to have his slow cooked meats ready in time for the judges to taste on the day of the competition, with some of his preparations beginning before Pesach.
“Some of these guys had been preparing all week long while Sruly didn’t even have the keys to open up his kitchen until 10 or 10:30 the night before,” said White. “It takes time to toast the cumin seeds and black pepper and to crush them. It’s not like an 18 minute matza where you work fast.
The most amazing thing wasn’t that he served a killer pastrami which is smoked for three to six hours and then finished in steam. The fact that he had his briskets ready, which generally speaking are a 12 to 18 hour business, is really incredible.”
While contestants were required to serve just one type of meat, Eidelman prepared three. The first, a house cured pastrami brisket over a non dairy croissant with horseradish mayonnaise, beer braised bacon cabbage and topped with fresh grain mustard, wowed judges, earning Eidelman perfect scores from the panel.
Judges cautioned Eidelman that serving up two more kinds of brisket, one fatty and one lean, could potentially lower his score and cost him the title.
“I told them I stood behind my product 100 percent,” said Eidelman. “In the end it was a unanimous decision, with all of the judges voting us as the best.”
Eidelman described his win as “humbling” and “amazing.”
“As the only kosher competitor it was very rewarding to win,” said Eidleman. “People think we are only good because we are in the kosher market, but to be named the top brisket in a competition like this is really crazy.”