It’s a celebration of all things meat. Well, it’s a celebration of all things Barbeque, it’s just that ‘meat week’ rolls off the tongue. The DC edition of the smokiest, food-based festival begins this Sunday and runs for 8 glorious days. We spoke with DC Meat Week Captain (Captain is a much better title than Organizer or Boss or Festival Person, Captain sounds like it’s fun) Mike Bober to preview the festivities.
What is Meat Week?
Meat Week is a national celebration of all things smoked, at least as far as meats go, it’s a celebration of barbecue in it’s finest forms.
DC is now in it’s 5th year and we are celebrating the best and a few of the newest barbecue joints in and around Washington, with a week long, night after night, opportunity to get out and taste some good barbecue.
In addition to celebrating barbeque restaurants, you also have one night at a barbeque truck…
Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish for quite awhile was operating out of a bus, a converted school bus in the parking lot of a shopping plaza on Rhode Island Avenue northeast. They’ve actually, I guess you could say upgraded, to a new bus, and that new bus is at the corner of 6th and Rhode Island avenues northwest, so it’s in a different quadrant of town, but you’re still getting classic old school barbecue from a school bus.
Mr. P’s celebrates Meat Week on Saturday, February 1. Here’s the full schedule:
Can you taste the difference?
I’m not gonna lie I haven’t been to the new bus yet, I’m waiting to check out the new bus with the rest of Meat Week.
You are friends with DC Meat-Free Week?
I think we’re frenemies, I think at the end of the day DC Meat-Free Week is a direct response to DC Meat Week, I think it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for that fact that we started up 5 years ago, but ultimately we have nothing but love for them, and we enjoy some really good meatless meals as well, this just happens to be the one week of the year where we really like to celebrate our barbecue.
Are any of the restaurants gluten free?
I can’t speak for the restaurants on that, I can tell you that barbecue in and of itself it’s just meat and smoke, it’s inherently gluten free, there’s no gluten in meat, but I can’t speak to the gluten free or gluten fullness of any restaurants full menu.
How much weight do you gain during Meat Week?
If I’m doing it right, none. It’s a matter of control, just because you’re eating barbecue 8 nights a week doesn’t mean you have to go home and fall into a food coma each time. It’s about making sure to really focus your energy on the high value stuff and not just eating everything in front of you because it’s there. Meat Week is about celebrating the best, not about the most.
What’s your biggest complaint about the festival?
Honestly there’s a frustration around having to explain that Meat Week is all about barbeque, and not about meat at large. And really that goes back to the history of Meat Week nationally. It was founded in Florida 10 years ago by two folks who received the two-word phrase ‘Meat Week’ from a random word generator, and kind of took that as a calling to go out and celebrate for a week, and from that meat week was born as a celebration of barbeque, but because of it’s origin they couldn’t just go back and rename it ‘Barbeque Week.’
The other thing is a lot of people don’t realize is that DC is just one of many chapters across the country that is doing meat week the same week every year, this is our 5th anniversary, but we have folks up in Baltimore that have been doing it even 2 years longer than we have. And then there are chapters as far west as Los Angeles to New York and Massachusetts.
Are there any barbeque joints in Baltimore or local places you love but aren’t participating in Meat Week?
I think DC and Baltimore are both really fortunate that the folks who run KBQ, used to be in Bowie, it has closed their original location, and are now in Latham, MD and I’d say anyone in DC or Baltimore that hasn’t made it to KBQ owes it to themselves to check it out, we didn’t include them in this years Meat Week because there was some uncertainty whether or not they’d be fully open by the time meat week rolled around, but I would say there’s a high likelihood that they will be included in future events.
The schedule had TBA for the Sunday, February 2 event. Has that been planned?
It’s not that it’s TBA, it’s that the national prescription is that Meat Week run for 8 days. Here in DC on Super Bowl Sunday, we’ve found there’s not really a lot of appetite for people to have a structured event, so the 8th day of Meat Week is probably best described as leftovers day, or else go out and celebrate at the Super Bowl party of your choosing and just make sure you eat some barbeque there.
Do you have a favorite leftover BBQ recipe?
What event are you most excited about?
The biggest and the best and biggest event this year is gonna be our second annual Food Truck Faceoff on Friday Night. It’s at Living Social 918 F St. space, it’s got 5 of the area food trucks competing, and on top of that we’re also gonna have exhibitors there doing sauce, rub, butchering, knife skills, and charcoal demonstrations.
It is indoors?
It is an indoor event, you’ll be going around from floor to floor of the space, sampling beef, pork, and a side from each of the trucks and voting on favorites. We’re actually going to be blessed this year because it is the 10 year anniversary of Meat Week, the national founders are doing a cross country tour, and stopping at the more active chapters, they’re going to be with us the night of the Food Truck Faceoff, so they get to see our big event in person, and they’re going to be on site for anyone who actually wants to meet the founders of the feast.
Meat Week begins this Sunday at Urban Bar-B-Que Company. Visit the Meat Week site for more information. Here’s Ron Swanson eating a BBQ chicken leg.