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The second year he took on the task of slow cooking more than a ton of meat himself. (When a brisket is done cooking, the point end is returned to the smoker until it develops charred “bark” and is then served cubed or chopped.) The most satisfying moment of his young cooking career came when he overheard two cops working the event: “One said to the other, ‘I wonder where they got these burnt ends from — these are the best burnt ends I’ve ever had.’” Soon, Segal was hitting the road, competing in barbecue fests as often as his schedule would allow.
“It happens that I’m obsessed with barbecue,” said Simon Majumdar, a Food Network regular who met Segal in 2012 while in Kansas City researching his book “Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America With My Fork.” “And what I say is that Mendel’s not making kosher barbecue — he’s making really, really terrific barbecue that happens to be kosher.” Segal is as surprised as anyone to find an apron and tongs are now the tools of his trade.“If they want barbecue, they should be able to get good barbecue.” To that end, Segal has facilitated the growth of several new kosher barbecue festivals, from Long Island to Chicago to Dallas.(See below.) READ: Kosher cookbook serves up Southern classics The second goal, however, is broader.Once the whirlwind of the weekend passes, Segal will hit the stretch run of the season and then focus on the next steps for his product line, such as introducing prepared items that can ship to kosher-food deserts.
And of course he’ll keep spreading the barbecue faith.His first order of business was to plan a fundraiser. “It was like nothing I’d ever had before.” Inspired by a longstanding kosher contest in Memphis, one of Kansas City’s rival barbecue cities, Segal enlisted a couple of local Jewish enthusiasts and a professional adviser: Andy Groneman, a cooking instructor and 20-year vet of the competitive barbecue circuit.