Though there are in-arguably many perks to the American holiday Labor Day, it may well be that one of the best perks for New York City is also one of the newest.
Pig Island, a relatively new event hosted on Governor’s Island, was scheduled for September 1 this year, the same weekend as Labor Day. On that Saturday, 25 New York City chefs gathered on Governor’s Island and worked their culinary magic on a total of 80 pigs. Not only did tickets for this event include the scrumptious masterpieces produced by these master chefs, each ticket was all-inclusive for a wealth of treats including beer, cider, wine, health bars and various other products. Some of the product sponsors for this year’s Pig Island included Sixpoint Brewery, Grown-up Soda, KIND and PlanTea in addition to others.
As a Texan with high standards for barbecued meat, it was unlikely that all 25 chefs would impress me with their culinary skills in relation to pork, however, some cooks did succeed at the task. The cream of the crop title goes to Peter Giannakas at Ovelia Psistaria Bar, a Hellenic grill based in Astoria, N.Y. While the pulled pork on pita was worth going back for, the rotisserie style pork took the cake, hands down, as the most mouth-watering, flavorful, well-seasoned meat at the event. Brooklyn’s Fort Reno BBQ was also extremely delicious and, as far as actual barbecued pork goes, Fort Reno holds the gold. Featuring shredded pork sliders on sweet Hawaiian rolls with DIY BBQ, Fort Reno gave me yet another reason to be thankful for my move to Brooklyn.
Among other chefs represented at the festival, Sam Barbieri from Waterfront Ale House and Fuhgeddabout It BBQ also made an impression with his smoked hog pulled to order, and Jacques Gautier‘s Palo Santo enjoyed a rather lengthy line as well. For some, the main event at Pig Island may very well have been what seems to have become America’s new favorite “must try”: chocolate covered bacon. The line for this “delicacy” was so long that many people dismissed the idea altogether or sent friends in.
In addition to the masterfully prepared pork and barbecue, one of the best things about Pig Island is its charity affiliation. A portion of Pig Island proceeds each year go to Food Systems Network NYC, an organization that strives to provide access to healthy, affordable food on a universal basis. New York is one of the nation’s leaders in providing a wide variety of wholesome, nutritional food, but Food Systems Network NYC aims to bring these goods to consumers at a more economically friendly rate.
Pig Island also emphasized utilization and support of local farmers and food sources. All pork, as well as fresh vegetables and all other food served at the event was locally sourced from area farms, and the majority of the proceeds from Pig Island went back to these farmers.
In support of Food Systems Network NYC, Earth Matter and locally grown, nutritionally sound food, this year’s Pig Island was a smashing success ending with an island of very satisfied, almost comatose attendees who collectively helped to take steps toward providing Americans with affordable, wholesome food.