It’s with a heavy heart and empty stomach that we’re forced to announce that Grillin’ On The Bay and the Brooklyn Chili Smackdown have been canceled for 2013.
The event, New York City’s only sanctioned barbecue contest, is another unfortunate victim of the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. While we worked hard – specifically, event organizer and Sheepshead Bites business manager Robert Fernandez worked hard – to get the event off the ground with a much shorter planning period than usual, a number of last minute challenges could not be overcome.
Initially, we were very optimistic, and Robert even began planning a number of extra features for the public to enjoy at the event. But the core – the grilling competition itself – confronted unexpected hurdles.
Many teams who have participated in the past were badly affected by the storm and unable to compete this year. In previous years we’ve seen approximately 20 teams coming from as far as Maine and Ohio – but many of these teams lived in areas swallowed up by the waters, winds and ferocity of Hurricane Sandy. We were able to secure less than half of the usual suspects – not enough to justify moving forward.
Furthermore, businesses in the area that supported us in past years are financially unable to do so as they struggle to rebuild. My thoughts and prayers are with them, the teams and our neighbors as we all try to get back to the new normal.
Without the teams, the event was a nonstarter, and the problem was compounded when our host informed us earlier this week of a paperwork problem that stood in the way of obtaining a necessary permit.
We do plan on bringing Grillin’ On The Bay and the Brooklyn Chili Smackdown back next year. We also plan on launching some exciting new features to the event that we had hoped to see this year – including a VIP tasting event and bourbon pairing, cooking demonstrations and more.
Our thanks go to all those in the neighborhood who showed support this year and in previous years, those of you who gave us tremendous feedback and spread the word to friends.
Our thanks also go to Bill Fletcher and Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue for offering to sponsor the event, and for going above and beyond to make the contest happen. Fletcher and his head chef Matt Fisher are producing the best barbecue in New York right now. Please be sure to visit the new restaurant at 433 Third Avenue in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. It’s worth a trip from anywhere.
Thanks also to the Brooklyn Brewery for their sponsorship of beer, both for the team and the public; and to Breuckelen Distilling for the sponsorship of whiskeys for the event.
Thanks to Michelle, Sandy, Terry, Andy and all the folks at the New England Barbecue Society for all their work supporting Grillin’ On The Bay.
We’ll see you there in 2014, and if there’s anything you’d like to see happen at next year’s contest, please let us know!