Rocco Camastro of Shake n Bake ribs serves pork ribs...

Rocco Camastro of Shake n Bake ribs serves pork ribs during the 4th-Annual Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Holtsville. (Aug. 7, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

For Matt Scheiner and Paul Polichronakis, the goal of Sunday's barbecue competition was simple: to place anywhere except dead last.

"We're just two guys who like to cook in our backyards," said Scheiner, 29.

The high school friends from Massapequa, who dubbed themselves Moosehead BBQ, were among 36 teams that competed meat-to-meat at the 2010 Battle of the BBQ Brethren held at the Suffolk County Police Athletic League Sports Complex in Holtsville.

The two-day event was the fourth annual Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned New York State BBQ Championship. The teams battled one another for $8,000 in prizes as well as a chance to take part in the granddaddy of all barbecue competitions, the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn.

The event also was a fundraiser for PAL's Children with Special Needs program and the New Interdisciplinary School in Yaphank, a private school for children with developmental disabilities, said Rich Gorgone, special needs coordinator for PAL. Gorgone helped organize the event with BBQ Brethren, a barbecue association that boasts 17,000 members from 190 countries, according to founder Phil Rizzardi, 50, of Nesconset.

A team of judges ate through 2 1/2 pounds each of ribs, pork, chicken and brisket, judging them on appearance, texture and taste, Rizzardi said. More than 2,000 showed up on Saturday to taste the different ribs, he said, estimating that an equal amount showed up Sunday.

Rizzardi said a big part of the Brethren is having more experienced teams mentor the newcomers. The Moosehead guys saw this firsthand when they were taken under the wing of a fellow competitor, Baldwin Butt Burners, a team that has won awards for five years.

Kathy Burke, 51, who with her husband, Jimmy, make up the Burners, said the newbies did well.

Turns out Moosehead finished 20th; the Burners 17th.

"You want to encourage people to get involved in this," she said. "This is not cutthroat. It's good, fun competition."

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