The Food Issue

Rabbi Mendel Segal leads the way on kosher barbecue

Rabbi Mendel Segal has created Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ rub and sauce, both kosher items made locally.
Rabbi Mendel Segal has created Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ rub and sauce, both kosher items made locally. The Kansas City Star

Rabbi Mendel Segal owns fancy smokers and enjoys a good backyard barbecue as much as the next guy. But the next step — taking part in competitions — can be a challenge if you keep kosher.

Segal is executive director of Vaad HaKashruth of Kansas City, an organization that certifies local companies that produce kosher products in accordance with strict Jewish dietary laws.

To compete with his team, RaBBi-Q, Segal has brought in a ringer to cook the pork categories on a separate grill. Even so, most events are on Saturday, and observant Jews do not cook or drive from sun up to sun down.

In 2013, Segal organized the Kansas City Kosher BBQ Festival, which is the first kosher contest to be sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. This year’s competition is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 16, at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park.

The Kansas City event puts us among those cities paving the way for more and better kosher barbecue, he says. Other cities hosting kosher barbecue events include Chicago, Atlanta, Long Island and San Antonio.

Meanwhile, because kosher meats — which are salted when butchered — require a lower sodium rub, Segal has created RaBBi-Q rub (the last ingredient is sea salt), as well as a mild, tomato-based sauce made with vegan Worcestershire sauce. Look for his products this spring at rabbiq.com, the Kansas City BBQ Store and Hen House.

Rabbi Mendel Segal’s RaBBi-Q: rabbiq.com; Facebook (Mendel Segal); Twitter @BBQRabbi

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