The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Chefs in Shorts

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While getting ready to write my Looking Back, Looking Ahead Blog Entry for this year I realized two of the highlights of the year were BBQ related events I didn’t write about at the time. This blog and one other will correct that oversight. This blog is about Chef’s in Shorts, a charity event where chef’s from nearly 40 Boston area restaurants gather to cook food outdoors on grills and some smokers. Many of the chef’s also wore shorts, but this rule wasn’t strictly enforced and long pants wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in some cases. The event this year was on June 12th and ran from 7:00-9:30PM at Boston’n World Trade Center in the Seaport District. The proceeds from the $60 tickets went to the Boston area Food Bank. Your ticket buys you all the food you can eat and several vouchers for the adult beverages of your choice.

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From Seafood to Kobe Beef Sliders, there was something for everyone.


My former boss heard about this event and invited me to go and said he would pay for the tickets. I decided to make a night of it and got a room at the Seaport Hotel directly across the street. I treated my boss to drinks at the Seaport Hotel bar before and after the event as a way of saying thanks. It was a beautiful evening, but early on it was still a little humid from some showers earlier in the day. The venue is a huge second floor open air balcony that runs for a couple blocks along the entire length of the Northern Avenue side of the World Trade Center. Just behind this area is a similar sized space that is open to the balcony but covered overhead. This night it served as an overflow space, and also housed the drink stations and a stage where a live band played sets. This area could be pressed into service as the main gathering area in the event of rain. The grills were arranged along both of the long sides of the open balcony with the center reserved for the patrons. There were also overflow grill stations on the large bridge going across Northern Ave from the World Trade Center to the Seaport Hotel.

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That pork roast had our name on it. We revisited about 10 minutes later when they were cutting up that spicy pork roast and giving it out a sandwich with a fresh salad.


The bill of fare ranged from burgers and dogs, to seafood, to vegetarian dishes, to world cuisine and traditional and not so traditional BBQ. The crowds weren’t too bad and there were definite ebbs and flows of the crowd levels. Just when it seemed to be getting too crowded , the crowds would thin out. The chefs did a good job of keeping the food coming throughout the event. There was a band playing off and on in the large covered area and there were other adjacent outdoor areas where you could sit and relax a bit. The space was ideally suited to this event.

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We caught our second wind in a large open air courtyard behind the main event area. Through the arch is the covered area and beyond is the open air balcony where the grills were set up.


I knew the evening was off to a good start when we saw they had UFO on draft as we came in. This wheat beer is great year round, but particularly on a summer’s night. Our first stop after grabbing a UFO was Firefly’s station where they were serving 4 bone rib samplers. This was the perfect start to the evening for me as a cooking class from the owner of Firefly’s is what got me to take the plunge and buy my smoker. Steve Uliss, the owner, was actually there working the grills and I got chance to thank him personally for the class that got me started doing real smoking. We spoke about The Backyard BBQ, the BBQ store that sponsored his class. All three of us felt they were long on great ideas to attract the public, but the one idea they didn’t have was how to survive in New England in the winter if all you sell is BBQ equipment.

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There were definite ebbs and flows in the crowd levels throughout the evening. This is about as crowded as it every got.


We moved on to try some Kobe beef hot dogs which were excellent. There were several stations serving Kobe beef burger sliders too, which we sampled. In fact sliders were the order of the day at many of the stations, as they are a perfect size to serve samples of food to large numbers of people. We moved along to a booth serving Argentinian beef and we also sample some great pork roast. With all of this great food and the great smells wafting through the air, we soon found we had a problem, a big problem: We hadn’t paced ourselves. So it was time to adjourn to a semi-covered courtyard to sit down, nurse a beer and try to get a second wind. It was a perfect evening to be outdoors and soon we had the will to press on again. That is when the only mis-step of the evening occurred.

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We’d run out of room, they’d run out of UFO so even though there was an hour left, it was the time to go.


We were working our way down the Southwest side of the balcony, sampling the wares when we came upon a station where they were serving ribs that were marinated in and sauced with a maple syrup based sauce. I was very excited to try these ribs, since I had a Canadian based recipe for ribs that also used maple syrup on my short list of things to make this month. We were each given a fresh 4 bone sampler plate of ribs and we walked away to find a spot to set our plates down and try the ribs. I looked forward with great anticipation to my first bite. To my total surprise when I bit in to the maple syrup sauced ribs, I absolutely hated them. H-A-T-E-D!!! I could tell by the look on my friends face I wasn’t alone. We couldn’t even finish the small sample plates we were given. We quickly headed back over to the Firefly’s booth to get another plate of their traditional KC ribs to try to drown out any remaining vestiges of the maple syrup ribs. I was truly surprised at just how much I’d disliked these ribs. Believe me I really wanted to like them. Needless to say this changed my plans to try these type of ribs at home. Additionally I think I’ve permanently put off any ideas I had of trying a maple syrup based brine and gravy recipe I’d found for my Thanksgiving turkey.

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The bridge over Northern Avenue served to hold about 10 more stations and it was the bridge to my home for the evening the Seaport Hotel in the back ground l directly across the street.


We had not paced ourselves very well and only got to visit about half of the 40 grill stations. But we did pick the ones we were most interested in to try first, so it wasn’t a total loss. It was just there was almost an hour left by the time we had run out of room and felt we would explode if we sampled or looked at any more food. One consolation was the fact they had run out of UFO around the same time we ran out of room. So we walked across the bridge over Northern Avenue to set up shop in the bar of the Seaport Hotel, which was also my home for the evening. The hotel not the bar. We agreed it was a great time and that we’d like to try to do it again next year. We also thought our wives would probably enjoy it too and next year we’d invite them along too.

This really was a great time for a good cause and you should look for something similar in your area to attend. It serves a good cause, you get to pick up a few ideas along the way and sample some great food. In my case even the one negative was a positive: The one food I didn’t care for was the maple syrup sauced ribs. Trying them here saved me from making a big mistake at home some weekend. My other piece of advice is pace yourself, the sights, smells and tastes make it easy to fill up way to soon.


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