Perhaps Walter Hyde is being a tad bit theatrical with the title, but over time, he is hoping that the 1st Annual World Famous Cleveland BBQ Throwdown does grow into something pretty spectacular. After all, you gotta start somewhere.
“We want this to be a yearly event with lots of chefs involved, and maybe even add Cleveland breweries paired up with chefs, but thought we should start off small and build it up every year,” says Hyde, who along with partner Scott Slagle run the weekend barbecue ops in the Sterle’s Bier Garden.
That’s precisely where this meaty competition will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 12. The barbecue battle will pit Hyde and Slagle against Melissa Khoury and Penny Barend of Saucisson and Adam Lambert of Ohio City Provisions. Each chef will prepare one main dish and one side dish, each of which will be blindly judged by an “expert” panel as well as the all-important Peoples’ Choice.
“I talked to Melissa and Penny from Saucisson and they were all in and then we got Lambert,” Hyde says. “I got lucky because both groups were available and are extremely talented and now me and Slagle have to come with our A game.”
Ticketed guests will each receive one platter containing each of the three mains and sides, along with one beer, lemonade, ice tea and snacks. There also will be a pickle bar and sauce bar on hand. Guests can purchase additional beers from the bar after the first freebie.
Hyde knows that Cleveland gets a bad rap for its barbecue scene, something he and Slagle have been attempting to remedy since their Fat Casual days. But he also knows that the talent is out there, but maybe just need a little motivation and exposure.
“This whole thing came about while talking to other chefs about BBQ and how, for most people, it's Carolina-style or Texas-style,” he says. “Why not show off Ohio-style BBQ?”
But mostly, Hyde admits, it’s just an excuse to round up some friends, smoke some meats, and blow off some steam.
“It's gonna be a chefs’ day off, backyard barbecue kind of feel with major bragging rights at stake," he says.
Tickets ($35) are limited and available by clicking here.