Marvin Rembo, an active member of Temple Beth Torah in Westbury, traveled often for business. On one of his trips, Rembo found himself among kosher barbecue connoisseurs who traveled across the country participating in kosher barbecue competitions.
Rembo was thrilled with the idea of a kosher barbecue competition because it was something Long Island had never seen. Last year, he brought the idea to the members of Beth Torah, and the Long Island Kosher Barbecue and Food Festival was born.
Rembo passed away on Monday -- less than a week before this year’s festival -- after suffering a heart attack. This year's festival was held in his honor.
Michael Glickman, a member of Temple Beth Torah, said Rembo also established the event as a “mitzvah,” or a good deed, by donating any leftover food and event proceeds to local charities.
“For him [Marvin], it wasn’t just about the competition, but about the personal relationships,” said Glickman, of Jericho.
Twenty-two teams gathered from all over the country to compete in seven different categories for the second annual competition.
Competing teams submitted samples of barbecued chicken, beans, ribs and brisket while also being ranked for creative group name, booth design and overall score. Judging was done by a panel of chefs and other members of the kosher barbecue community.
Each team had a unique cooking style that separated it from the others.
Team Got Cholent? chopped its own wood from a stump in front of its booth to feed its barbecues, while The Sacrificial Brisket team roasted a turkey on a spigot. Team Pirates of the Ribs-and-Bean cooked its food while dressed entirely in pirate garb and handed out tiny fish to all patrons who passed by.
“Barbecue is delicious, and it’s fun,” said Adam Farber, 34, of Pirates of the Ribs-and-Bean. “There’s no food that’s better than home-cooked ribs or a hamburger on a hot day.”
This year, the festival also included vendors' food samples, including fresh hummus and a variety of pickles in many different flavors. Patrons were also invited to participate in pickle and hot dog eating contests, as well as a basketball skills competition.
This year’s festival was even more successful than last year's. About 3,200 people attended, up from 2,500 last year. The event is run by a team of volunteers.
“The support is unbelievable here,” said Kenny Duftler, 44, of team Mavens of Barbecue (M.O.B.).
At the end of the festival, medals and trophies were awarded to the top six participants in each category.
Team Grillin’ Tefillin, which traveled from Atlanta to compete, took home the grand championship trophy. The team has been grilling together for three years and travels the national “kosher barbecue circuit” to compete.
Matt Dickson, a member of team Grillin’ Tefillin, said the team also participated in the competition last year. He said that meeting Rembo at the competition last year was still on their minds.
“This win is for Marvin,” he said. “We are just so excited, we made a lot of friends here, and it’s great to be back.”