Hot and amazing. That was the verdict on the 7th annual Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival, according to chief organizer Jody Pollock. The event was held Sept. 8 at the City Green in downtown Sandy Springs under a blazing sun.
“We had a great turnout,” Pollock told the Atlanta Jewish Times. “My thumb in the air estimate is 3,500 – probably 1,000 at any given time.”
Pollock has been involved with the festival since its inception. “I was behind the scenes in the first two,” he said. “I cooked the first year and my brisket came in third. I took it over the third year, and this is the fifth year I’ve run it.”
Does he still enjoy it? “It’s a lot of fun; it really is. To see it all come together is a blast and a half,” he said.
But it’s not all fun and games. “The biggest challenge is getting the right volunteers to do the right jobs at the right time, especially now that it’s time to clean up. Everybody’s burned out. Teams have been here since 8 o’clock last night, and they are ready to go home.”
A film crew was recruited this year to shoot the entire festival, funded by an innovation grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Led by Atlanta director Adam Hirsch, the documentary “will take viewers inside the preparation process to the all-night smoking and the excitement of taste buds of festival-goers and judges,” the AKBF said in a statement.
“The film is going to blow us out of the water next year,” Pollock said. “It’s going to be ready for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in February as a short. Not sure how long the short is going to be, but the long and short of it is that it’s in the AJFF.”
Pollock’s fellow organizer Dan Frankel, who calls himself a “general jack of all trades,” said, “The way we’ve done the food is a little bit different this year; we’ve added some more tasting capability. There are new vendors. The 50/50 raffle is new.
“On the silent auction we’ve gone online; it’s now easier for folks to see how much items have been bid for, so if they want to track them and increase the bids, they can. In previous years we had everything on paper, and it was kind of a struggle.”
The silent auction had some impressive items available, according to volunteer Judy Friedman, who runs a company called Atlanta Antique & Estate Liquidators.
“Round-trip airfare to Las Vegas, a $500 wine party, beautiful dinners, art – the deals are unreal,” she said. “This is much more colorful than any of my sales.”
At the day’s conclusion, judges from the prestigious Kansas City Barbeque Society determined the first-place winners in four meat categories: The Brisketeers (chicken); Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em (chili and brisket); and The Barbeque N Hebrew Hillbillies (ribs). The latter also won the grand champion cup, with $600 thrown in for good measure.