Barbecue Masters Go Whole Hog for Madison Square Park

Kenny Callaghan
Kenny Callaghan, the executive and partner at Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant, is the organizer of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. Photographer: William Brinson/Union Square Hospitality Group via Bloomberg

Barbecue deity Ed Mitchell trucked coffin-sized grills this week from his North Carolina base to New York to roast dozens of whole hogs.

If this weekend’s 2-day Big Apple Barbecue Block Party runs to form, Mitchell’s sandwiches will trigger half-hour lines, the way they did for some of last year’s 130,000 visitors.

Blue Smoke executive chef Kenny Callaghan will cut his Brontosaurus-like beef ribs to fit on plates. Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee Mike Mills is bringing baby backs.

“I pick and choose who comes to the block party to protect the integrity of the event,” said Callaghan, the organizer. “We try to bring in the best of the best.”

The meat lovers’ festival kicks off tomorrow at Manhattan’s Madison Square Park with 17 pitmasters from around the U.S.

The roster includes Mills of the 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, Illinois; Scott Roberts, owner of the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que restaurant in Driftwood, Texas; Chris Lilly, from Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, who will slow-cook pulled pork; and Charles Grund Jr., executive pitmaster of New York’s Hill Country, who’s providing beef brisket.

Last year, the event raised $138,000 for the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which uses the money to help clean, beautify and provide security for the park, the nonprofit’s president, Debbie Landau, said in an e-mail.

Perfect Marriage

The park “has been the perfect marriage for us,” Callaghan said. Among the charities he has supported over the years are City Harvest; Children of Bellevue; Harlem Children’s Zone; and the Washington-based Share Our Strength, which fights childhood hunger.

(The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is Saturday and Sunday at Madison Square Park, at East 23rd St. between Madison and Fifth avenues in Manhattan from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the park is free; small plates of barbecue cost $8 each. Information: or +1-646-747-0584)

(Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and Greg Evans on movies.

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