Events — 24 January 2011
The World’s Biggest Jerk Off (It’s Not What You Think)

Blog: Biggest Jerk Off

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Brooklyn, New York has had its fair share of brilliant minds traveling down its busy streets.  Historically, there have been authors (Henry Miller, Norman Mailer) and artists (Barry Manilow, Jean-Michel Basquiat) amongst many other contributors born and raised in the borough, who have helped improve our quality of life in some small way.  Fear not however- Brooklyn in 2011 is still filled with gifted individuals who continue to help this ever changing community on a daily basis, but some of which you may not have heard of.  For instance, if you enjoy reading food blogs and websites, then you have most likely heard of the famed “Chili Take Down,” the first event of its kind in the area. The genius of which I speak of is the creator of The “Take Down,” Matt Timms.  Timms is passionate about creating events that involve complete audience and or crowd participation.  On January 23rd, another one of Matt Timms’ “Take Down” style events was born.

Beef jerky is a very popular snack. It is consumed by jerky connoisseurs, eaters looking for a quick fix, and protein seekers. The event would be called “The World’s Biggest Jerk Off.” Don’t worry mom and dad, there was nothing pornographic about this event. Instead it was an all out jerky lover’s dream. This mega event was held at the popular Gowanus, Brooklyn venue The Bell House. I have been eating jerky off all kinds since I was a little kid. Most of the Jerky I would eat was purchased at the local grocery store or smuggled into sleepaway camp in a pillow case. But I have never tasted jerky made on such a grassroots level.

The contestants in “The World’s Biggest Jerk Off,” were a lively, happy crew. Each team or individual chef brought experience and good spirits to the event, as smiles filled the room. Whenever I approached a table for a sample, I was welcomed with a warm and often funny greeting as they explained the exact type of jerky I was about to consume. And with over twenty competitors I was able to meet a lot of great people.  More importantly however, I was able to try some seriously amazing jerky. The jerky ranged from the mild to the wild. Throughout the tasting part of the contest I was able to try jerkys ranging from ones made with strawberrys and chocolates, to ones made with deer venison. There were jerkys made with Polynesian ingredients and many with some very hot peppers and spices. Best of all, they were all fantastic. I know I could easily just say that to be nice, but the stone cold fact is all of the jerky I tasted was delicious.

One of the participants was a local Brooklyn favorite- Scott Gold, writer of “The Shameless Carnivore,” and bartender at Carroll Gardens’ Char No. 4. Gold revealed that he had judged several “Take Downs,” before but at this event he was ready to try his hand at being a competitor.  Gold’s jerky was made with ham and prepared with pickles from McClure’s, a local Brooklyn favorite.  It would be a misconception to assume that a ham jerky combined with sour pickles would taste peculiar.  But the flavors all really worked. It didn’t hurt that Gold added in a nice slice of a dill pickle as a garnish for the jerky slice.

The judging of “The World’s Biggest Jerk Off” was scored by established local jerky purveyors.  The judges came from all over, but many of them were from Brooklyn. South Park Slope’s own BAM Jerky represented with samples, which included their “Sweet & Spicy” and “Kill Me!” labels. They are a truly great outfit, and Bam himself gives the jerky an edge, with his rocker vibe. The other judges came from other local Jerky companies like Gerald Jerky and SlantShack Jerky. I was really pleased to see them all out there, both as smart judges, and representatives of local business.

After the last tray of jerky was cleared it was time for the judging to take place. Since this was my first “Take Down” event, I was excited to find both a judges and interactive attendee voting period. Ballots were handled out to the crowd, where they could place the number of the jerky maker who they felt was above and beyond the best. After all the votes were counted and the judges had some time to deliberate, it was time for the all important moment of truth.

The judges voting came first and the winner was the creator of an exciting bourbon-infused lamb jerky. When the winner was given the microphone, he only had one thing to say- “I love my mom! ” Sweet stuff right? After the judge’s selection was made it was time for the “People’s Choice.”  Before announcing the winner, Matt Timms made it a point to commend and compliment each of the competitors and he gave each of them a certificate for participation.  The first prize for the “People’s Choice,” would be a man simply known as “Fred,” donning a shirt with the phrase “Men Against Brunch” on it. Fred claims that the cow who yielded the meat for his jerky was raised in his mom’s backyard on 3rd Street and was fed food from the Park Slope Co-Op, grazing on grass from Prospect Park.  “It’s as local as it gets.”

Matt Timms played a perfect Emcee and was a brilliant event planner. Sure there are cook-off style events all over the country, which have been going on for years. But Matt Timms has reinvented it, and brought it locally into what I can only describe as a party. People from all over the New York area can congregate, eat great food made by their peers, talk about it, and enjoy some spirits. I really could not think of a better way to spend a Sunday in this city. If you have ever said to yourself, “Where are all the cool events in this city, that won’t let me down?” Well, look no further then one of Matt Timms’ “Take Down” events. The beauty of it is the variety of the events are only limited to his imagination, and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. It is where Facebook, Blogs, and Twitter meet the real world. We all go on these sites and check out the events we want to attend and the food we want to eat. Now you can take all that want and actually attend. Say tuned to his site and to the Bell House event calendar to see when one of Matt Timms’ gastronomic masterpieces is coming! Stay Hungry!

- Alan Smithee


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