Breaking: Zak Pelaccio and Robbie Richter to Collaborate on Asian Barbecue in
Former Hill Country pitmaster Robbie Richter has been lying low since his split with the restaurant, but that doesn’t mean the most decorated competition cooker in New York has been idle. Instead, he’s been collaborating with Zak Pelaccio on a Southeast Asian barbecue restaurant in Williamsburg. Look for it in the fall on South 6th Street between Berry and Bedford.
City’s Only Barbecue Contest Loses HomeIt’s yet another setback for the barely breathing New York competition barbecue circuit: Grillin’ on the Bay, the city’s only Kansas City Barbecue Society–sanctioned contest, which had been planned for this summer at beautiful Kingsborough Community College in Sheepshead Bay, is off. Kingsborough rescinded its invitation, organizers say, leaving them only a few months to find a new location for dozens of teams and their mobile barbecue pits. One alternate being considered is Floyd Bennett Field, an empty expanse south of Marine Park in Brooklyn. We’ll let you know the confirmed time and place when we hear it.
Robbie Richter and Hill Country Part WaysIt’s a sad day for New York barbecue: Hill Country and pitmaster Robbie Richter have parted ways, a mutual decision both sides say was amicable. Richter, whose salt-and-pepper-powered Texas-style barbecue has been a huge critical success, says “there are new barbecue horizons, new directions, a world of flavors and techniques that I need to start exploring.” What might those be? Richter won’t say – yet. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Hill Country owner Marc Glosserman calls Richter “a passionate cook and a great champion of barbecue.” Pitmaster duties will be taken over by Pete Daversa, a Blue Smoke veteran who’s been running basic barbecue operations under Richter since Hill Country opened.
Related: The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’
Back of the House
The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’The Times, touching on a story Grub Street broke when Moses was in short pants, had a big feature on the dearth of experienced pitmasters Sunday, pegged on GS pal Big Lou Elrose of Wildwood. The piece marvels at the quick ascent of Big Lou from working an Ozone Park lunch wagon to his current post, but in fact, Elrose’s bones were made as Adam Perry Lang’s right hand man in competition; the lunch wagon was just a lark. Still, the city’s top pitmasters are as baffling to food writers as they are to the general public. Their job is hard to understand, because nothing they do happens while customers are present to observe. The pitmaster’s art is exercised in the dead night, in secrecy and silence, and outside observers rarely get any glimpse of what it involves. There is one factor that never changes, though, and will always separate real pitmasters from merely titular ones.
RUB Bringing Barbecue to Los Angeles?Hill Country and the forthcoming Wildwood have been getting most of the headlines lately, but RUB seems to be the New York barbecue most likely to take over the world. The huge Vegas operation is set to open on the 15th at the Rio, and owner Andrew Fischel also has plans to open an immense RUB in Los Angeles. “It’s still something we’re in talks on, but it’s going to be big!” Fischel tells us. Of course it is. RUB is a planet eater. But will this occasion the building of a second RUB chopper? Or will L.A.’s car culture demand a RUB hot rod, possibly with a smoke-belching blower coming out of the hood? Or maybe a RUB lowrider? Fischel is mum on the possibilities, but we can’t help but dream.
Related: It’s Not a Motorcycle, Baby. It’s a Mobile Barbecue Pit.
NYC Deli Owners Try Out a Barbecue FranchiseJust when you thought the New York barbecue marketplace was sated — and believe us, we thought so too — comes word that yet another megabarbecue is coming to the city. And not just one location, either: Famous Dave’s has sold a territorial franchise to open seven restaurants in New York and Westchester to Sammy Benmoha, owner of Maxie’s Deli, and, with his father Jacob, the Roxy and BenAsh Delis. What is this Famous Dave’s anyway? And how can there possibly be room for seven more megabarbecues, with Spanky’s, Hill Country, Virgil’s, RUB, Blue Smoke, Daisy May, Dinosaur, and half a dozen others already feeding the masses, and B. R. Guest’s Wildwood on the way?
This Theater Serves Pork, Not PopcornWarm weather is running out for Harry’s Water Taxi Beach, the aquatic venue that was the site of Meatopia and any number of other summer frolics. But the place has one more big event left in it: this weekend’s barbecue movie series, the last segment of the first annual NYC Food Film Festival. Starting tonight and running through Saturday, catch titles like the much buzzed-about (in BBQ circles, anyway) Barbecue: a Texas Love Story or Dial S for Sausage. All will be accompanied by real barbecue, prepared by Meatopia veterans Scotty Smith of RUB and Robby Richter of Big Island Barbecue. “These are great films which happen to be about barbecue,” says documentarian George Motz, one of the festival’s organizers. “The food, though, will make it a multisensory experience.” After the jump, catch a sneak preview of Barbecue: a Texas Love Story.
The Other Critics
Franny’s Gets the All-Purpose Two Stars; Southern Hospitality Praised forFranny’s is the recipient of one of Frank Bruni’s periodic low-end caprices, and gets awarded an absurd two stars as a result. [NYT]
Paul Lukas, a pretty serious student of barbecue, delivers the verdict on the new barbecues, and the surprise is that Southern Hospitality has some pretty damn good Memphis ribs. Hill Country, it goes without saying, gets lauded as the best BBQ in town. [NYS]
Related: Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality
“Rivulets of delicious grease are a common theme” is the key note to Paul Adams’s review of Borough Food and Drink. Mmmm…grease…. [NYS]
B.R. Guest’s New BBQ: Will Wildwood Succeed?Last month we reported on the possibility of a new B.R. Guest BBQ restaurant on Park Avenue South, and B.R. Guest officially pooh-poohed the idea. But we trust our BBQ world sources, and we have a lot of them, so today, we’ve got the details. The place will in fact be in the old Barça 18 space, as we predicted, and will be called Wildwood BBQ. David Rockwell will do the interior, which will include a 75-foot-long bar and 200 seats. Our take? Though there’s no doubt that B.R. Guest group knows how to run a restaurant, barbecue is not just another “concept,” and corporate restaurants, with their tight financial controls, rarely produce great meat. And it’s an odd place to put it, given that three of the best barbecue restaurants in New York are in the Madison Square Park–Flatiron area, in RUB, Hill Country, and Blue Smoke.
Hill Country Pits Graffiti Grows Worse Each DayHill Country was born old. The day it opened, its walls and air vents had been painstakingly smoked-stained, and its floors distressed to look as if 10,000 gluttons had waddled across it over the years. But the pits were brand-new. Not so anymore: After one summer of operation, they’re now signed with the regards of dozens of chefs, politicians, celebrities, and members of the barbecue underground.
BBQ Brethren Speaks!
Now here we thought that the Barbecue Brethren were a bunch of byzantine schemers, taking potshots at their enemies and vice versa, while the world looked on in indifference. But it turns out that we were wrong! Eric Devlin, an articulate fellow who happens to belong to that group, set us straight in a missive as notable for its refined tone and polished eloquence as for the fact that it is totally insane. Further proof of the Brethren’s non-omnipotence can be found in the fact that none of their members won last weekend’s Ribfest; the laurels went to Boston’s I Que.
It’s Not a Motorcycle, Baby. It’s a Mobile Barbecue Pit.
When we heard that RUB was commissioning Orange County Chopper, of American Chopper fame, to make a mobile barbecue pit, we thought it was a pretty cool idea. We expected it to be a novelty, like a two-headed kitten, or the world’s largest ball of string. Nothing prepared us for the mind-numbing coolness of the actual RUB Chopper: The restaurant’s owner, Andrew Fischel, correctly characterizes as “the sickest, baddest thing in the world.”
New York’s Barbecue Illuminati — Revealed!
Anyone who happened to read a recent White Trash BBQ post about the upcoming Hudson Valley Ribfest contest was bound to be confused. We love the contest, and have even won one of its categories in the past, but the part that got us was the dark allusion to a conspiracy of harassment: “I’m also worried a bit about the actions of a certain tribe in the barbeque world. Some of them will be at New Paltz. They’ve screwed with me and my friends before, and I don’t put it past them to do it again,” White Trash BBQ wrote.