Big Apple Barbecue 2018 lineup: Hometown Bar-B-Que, Blue Smoke, Hill Country and more

Grill masters Jake Timmons, left, and Scott Irvine from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que served up their best at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park on Saturday.
Grill masters Jake Timmons, left, and Scott Irvine from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que served up their best at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park on Saturday. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Some of the country’s best barbecue — including ribs from a newly minted James Beard Award winner — is headed to Madison Square Park this weekend.

The annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party returns for its 16th year Saturday and Sunday, with 16 pit-mastering teams from the East Coast, the Midwest and Texas cooking up their signature meats and sides. (Think brisket, ribs, wings and gallons of cole slaw.)

Among their ranks is Rodney Scott, who runs a celebrated barbecue joint in Charleston, South Carolina and was named best chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Award judges this week.

Star whole-animal butchers Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest — whose departure from the Upper West Side restaurant White Gold Butchers in March followed accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against co-owner Ken Friedman several months ago — join the lineup for the first time this year. They’ll be serving three kinds of sausages made with meats from upstate New York, organizers announced last month.

Admission to the weekend event running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day is free to the public. Save your money for your plates, sides, sweets and drinks, the latter on tap at two beer and wine gardens popping up inside the park. A $125 “FastPass” entitles two ticketholders to express lane access and $100 worth of merchandise. A $275 VIP pass tops those perks with credentials for an open bar at a “VIP ‘pit’ stop.” (Buy your tickets here.)

Proceeds from food and beverage purchases benefit the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

Here’s what the pitmaster teams on the roster are serving this year, for $12 a plate:

  • Jean-Paul Bourgeois, of Blue Smoke in Manhattan — fried smoked chicken with Tabasco-spiked honey, broccoli and black-eyed pea salad; 
  • Billy Durney, of Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn — chopped brisket and jalapeño cheddar link sandwiches with queso and tater tots;
  • Joe Duncan, of Baker’s Ribs in Dallas, Texas — St. Louis ribs with jalapeño cole slaw; 
  • Jonathan and Justin Fox, of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q in Atlanta, Georgia — brisket and jalapeño cheddar sausages with jalapeno slaw and pickles;
  • Ash Fulk, of Hill Country in Manhattan — brisket sandwiches with house pickles and cole slaw;
  • Sam Jones, of Skylight Inn/Sam Jones BBQ, in Ayden, North Carolina — Eastern North Carolina whole hog sandwiches with sweet slaw;
  • Chris Lilly, of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama — pulled pork sandwiches with spicy mustard cole slaw;
  • Pat Martin, of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville, Tennessee —West Tennessee whole hog sandwiches with cole slaw;
  • Mike and Amy Mills, of 17th St. BBQ in Murphysboro, Illinois — Apple City barbecue baby back ribs with tangy pit beans;
  • Ed and Ryan Mitchell, of Ed Mitchell’s Que in Raleigh, North Carolina  — Eastern North Carolina whole hog sandwich with slaw;
  • Garry and Leslie Roark, of Ubon’s Barbeque in Yazoo City, Mississippi —Mississippi chicken wings with Bloody Mary cucumber salad;
  • Scott Roberts, of The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas —brisket and sausage with sesame cole slaw;
  • Rodney Scott, of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina —St. Louis ribs wtih cole slaw;
  • John Stage, of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Manhattan — St. Louis ribs with barbecue beans;
  • John Wheeler, of Memphis Barbecue Co. in South Haven, Mississippi — baby back ribs with Mamma June’s baked beans;
  • Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest, of New York — hot dogs with kimchi and mayo, kielbasas with mustard and bratwurts with kraut and mustard.

For the vegetarian friend tagging along, Pies ‘N’ Thighs will be offering two meat-free sides for $6 each (mac ‘n’ cheese and spicy watermelon salad), as well as biscuit and gravy sausage and cornbread.

Bringing $4 to $8 sweets to the outdoor bash are Brooklyn ice cream parlor Ample Hills (“Corn to Run,” an exclusive creamy corn ice cream with cornmeal crumble and blueberry swirls), multi-borough doughnuttery Doughnut Plant (mini-filled “doughseeds” and seasonal doughnuts), Mississippi’s Sugaree’s Bakery (classic layer cakes) and Dallas, Texas-based Original Fried Pie Shop.

And a summer barbecue wouldn’t be complete without some tunes. This year’s music lineup at the Big Apple Barbecue runs the gamut from a Nashville-based guitarist and singer-songwriter to an alt-rock trio from Philly.