Growing up in Midwood, Brooklyn, the Eidelman brothers ate a lot of meat. Their mother, Sara, an accomplished cook was born to Holocaust survivor parents who couldn’t afford the luxury. So she wanted to give her boys all she could.
“She used to buy us filet mignon,” said Sruly Eidelman, now 26 and living in Crown Heights.
From that beginning at his mother’s table, Eidelman — known as Izzy to his non-Jewish friends — has become the force behind Izzy’s BBQ Addiction, a Texas-style kosher barbecue spot that he’s currently running as a pop-up.
About once a week, Eidelman, who has a day job in quality control at a custom cabinetry company, rises before dawn and loads his two smokers with brisket, beef ribs, chicken or whatever else he feels like. As he’s cooking, he posts the menu on his Facebook page, and orders — mostly from his friends and family, at this point — begin pouring in. When the meat is ready — sometimes up to 16 hours later — Eidelman loads up his car and makes his deliveries, mostly in the Crown Heights area.
“Here I can cook up to 40 or 50 pounds of meat at a time,” Eidelman said, pointing to the two bullet-shaped smokers that he loads with charcoal and hickory, cooking the meat over slow, indirect heat and steam. Though his menu varies, he’s got a few staples: dry-cured pastrami and brisket, rubbed with “salt and pepper and other secret spices;” smoky beef ribs; and chopped pulled brisket, which he mixes with his specialty barbecue sauce: a hybrid of a Memphis- and Kansas City-styles, he said, made with brown sugar, cayenne and real maple syrup.
Fans of the Discovery Channel ‘s “BBQ Pitmasters,” the brothers wondered, when seeing the juicy, flavorful meat and all the fun that went into making it, why the style of barbecue was never applied to kosher meat.
Today, Eidelman is a bonafide barbecue expert — a non-kosher Jewish Week reporter found his rich, tender meats to be startlingly similar in flavor and texture to their treif counterparts — but it wasn’t an easy road.
A year ago, Eidelman was a complete novice, having never tasted barbecue before. Luckily, he found Ari White, the El Paso, Texas-born chef and owner of Wandering ‘Que, a kosher barbecue company that also “pops up” around New York City, at synagogues and Jewish cultural centers as well as at barbecue competitions and street fairs. Eidelman’s barbecue education began the moment he headed uptown and tried a bite of White’s fare.
“I absolutely loved those flavors,” Sruly said. “I thought, ‘This has to become part of my life. I think that this kind of food is something that is missing from the Jewish cuisine.
“It’s simple and it’s hearty,” he said, adding that while there are a handful of great kosher restaurants in the city, there are few that have the down-home, easygoing atmosphere of barbecue. To that end, Eidelman is seeking a brick-and-mortar home for his company, ideally in the Crown Heights area, where many of his young foodie friends live.
“I want this to be a place where you can sit down, order a great craft beer, listen to some bluegrass music and talk with your friends,” Eidelman said. “And I think that more Jews need to try this kind of food.”