Bobby and Michael Turned the Big Apple Into One Big Backyard BBQ at the New York City Wine & Food Festival


On an uncharacteristically warm fall evening, people gathered at one of the last events of the New York City Wine & Food Festival, enjoying family fun at Backyard BBQ, hosted by Bobby Flay and Michael Symon on Sunday. With this new event the two chefs and best friends invited some of the city’s best barbecue chefs and pitmasters to cook for an evening.

“Anything that I can do with Michael is always going to be a good time,” said Bobby as we sat down with the two hosts to chat about the event. “We basically major in fun,” added Bobby. People might be thinking, barbecue in the Big Apple? But Bobby immediately cleared up any doubts. “New York City may not be known as the barbecue capital of the word, but it is today,” he said. After tasting the offerings, we wholeheartedly agree: All these city-slicker chefs can make some darn-good barbecue.

Michael added: “I love being in New York. I love what this event stands for. I love the money that it raises. And to do it with one of your best friends, cooking a style of food that both of us love so much, and surrounded by people that love food, it’s magical.” When asked how the event came to be, Bobby said: “In some ways it was just sort of natural. Food Network said: You guys are such good friends. Why don’t you do an event together?” We were like, “Alright.” And since both guys love to cook and eat barbecue, it was simply the perfect fit.

For this inaugural event, the public had the chance to vote on its favorite dishes. The people’s choice award went to Butcher Bar’s Chef Matthew Katakis, who soon after accepting the trophy was told to hold on as Bobby announced the winner of the Coca-Cola BBQ challenge, which was voted upon by a panel of chefs. That award also went to Butcher Bar.

As Chef Katakis came to collect his $5,000 check, Bobby literally dropped the mic to toast the team’s double success.

We could see why Butcher Bar’s “Meat Candy” won both awards, as we couldn’t get enough of the crispy and succulent pork. The dish consisted of double-smoked beef burnt ends with homemade pickled cucumbers, and a dash of BBQ sauce and habanero sauce, all served with coleslaw on the side.

Both Bobby and Michael also prepared dishes for the event.

Michael added a squeeze of sauce onto his beef ribs as he handed them out to excited festivalgoers. “Let’s do food that kind of sums up the cities we are from,” said Michael of the concept for his dish, which riffed on the eastern European influence in his hometown, Cleveland.

The dish consisted of a kielbasa-spiced beef rib served with ballpark mustard sauce and homemade sauerkraut, which included hot peppers. The sweet-hot cabbage was the perfect foil to the richness of the succulent beef.

Bobby added a finishing touch to his Korean-style St. Louis-cut ribs. To Michael’s comment, Bobby joked, “And I’m from Korea.” But in all honesty, he was inspired by the city’s melting-pot cuisine, of which Korean food is a big part. “All those wonderful flavors, that Korean red pepper paste, gochujang,” he said of his inspiration. “We made a barbecue sauce out of it and slathered it on some pork ribs.”

His spice-rubbed ribs got a last-minute finish of Korean-style barbecue sauce, and they were served with kimchi on the side.

Chef Dmitri Petriakov of BLT Prime put three comfort foods together in his apple pie-spiced pulled pork slider, with chipotle and bacon mac ‘n’ cheese. The mac ‘n’ cheese was too good not to finish.

Chef Michael Psilakis of MP Taverna served two dishes: a watermelon with feta and skewered offal, and a spit-roasted lamb served in a pita with yogurt sauce. The less-adventurous festivalgoers opted for the lamb pita, which was moist, tender and very flavorful.

Richard Sandoval Restaurants served a roasted garlic chipotle slow-cooked pork rib atop an Asian salad.

Chef Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque put a spin on the classic meatloaf by smoking it and serving it with black garlic mayo, charred-chili bacon marmalade and a fried egg on a potato roll. We’ve never had a meatloaf so packed with flavor, and the egg on top was a welcome decadent addition.

Chopped Grill Masters Season 2 Winner Angie Mar of The Beatrice Inn served a spit-roasted venison with spicy mole and plums. Her pairing of tangy plums with gamey venison made for a harmonious bite.

Just Cupcakes took inspiration from the event in serving its bourbon-infused chocolate cupcakes topped with glazed Virginia bacon. They also handed out freshly torched s’mores cake pops, which ran out quickly.

Black Tap, winners at Friday night’s Burger Bash, served its popular Rainbow Shake. The cooling treat featured a vanilla milkshake with rainbow sprinkles, a mini ice-cream cone and whipped cream. It was a welcome respite from all the forms of meat.