Dozens of nationally recognized pitmasters from as far away as Alabama and Tennessee will reunite in Astoria at Pig Beach BBQ’s new location for a full-day meat smokin’ extravaganza reunion for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The all-day “swine around” event is being organized by Pig Beach partners Matt Abdoo, Shane McBride and Rob Shawger in honor of their late friend, Pig Beach Executive Chef Jeff Michner, who died suddenly in 2018 at age 36, leaving behind his wife Sara, newborn daughter Hayes and twin sister Meghan, who is married to Abdoo.
All proceeds from the April 30 event, which is expected to draw hundreds, will benefit the Jeff Michner Foundation, which supports families managing loss and grief and provides scholarships to graduating high school students with a love for cooking and golf, two of Michner’s passions in life.
“Jeff was more than a friend; he was family,” Abdoo said. “When we created this benefit in 2019, pitmasters from all across the country, some who had only known Jeff for a short time, flew in to honor him and make the event as meaningful and successful as possible. This year’s benefit will feature twice as many pitmasters, and will be held in our new 28,000-square-foot Queens location which holds a lot more people.”
Pig Beach BBQ opened in Astoria last October in the former Studio Square location at 35-33 36th St., just down the street from the Kaufman Astoria Studios. McBride is an Astoria resident with more than two decades of experience.
“Jeff had an all-in mentality with everything he did, and the support we’ve felt from the barbecue community, the way they’ve continued to go all in to honor him, is just a testament to who Jeff was and how much he was truly loved; it has been a crucial part of the fundraiser’s success,” McBride said. “It’s always been our goal to take Jeff with us wherever Pig Beach goes, and honor him the best way we can. Our dream is to grow this benefit into a truly iconic annual event, similar to the Big Apple Block Party.”
Pig Beach held its first Jeff Michner BBQ benefit at its original location in Gowanus, Brooklyn, in 2019. The sold-out event drew thousands of barbecue fans, pitmasters and chefs, and raised over $50,000. While the pandemic put the event on hold in 2020 and 2021, it returns with 25 indoor and outdoor food stations and cocktails by the city’s top mixologists and live musical performances.
The event will also feature a silent auction and raffle prizes. VIP tickets are going for $200 and include early access beginning at 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. and VIP lounge access and gift bag. General admission is $100 and includes all food and drink from noon to 4 p.m. Kids under 12 are free.
“Continuing to hold this benefit is extremely important to us at Pig Beach, not only to honor Jeff’s legacy but to show his daughter who he was as she continues to grow up,” Abdoo said. “We are so grateful to our entire BBQ family, including Old Hickory Pits and Cutting Edge Firewood, whose support and generosity is helping us make this year’s event bigger than ever.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pigbeachnyc.com/store/event/jmf-bbqbenefit.