Here’s what the city’s local barbecue experts think of the scene in 2016

Elizabeth Karmel, founding chef at Hill Country; current chef/pitmaster at Three years ago, I would’ve said no, [there’s no New York barbecue]. Today, I would say absolutely yes. I am so infatuated with Billy Durney and what he’s doing at Hometown. What he’s done is taken barbecue technique, but he’s proved himself. And the fact is, he’s a New Yorker. It’s not like he’s trying to recreate Southern barbecue. He’s just using Southern barbecue techniques and making the food that he fell in love with growing up in New York, which includes jerk ribs, and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. He’s doing pork belly pastrami. None of those things are traditional in the barbecue world. But then he also does a Texas-style beef rib that he fell in love with in Texas with Louie Mueller. He’s made that his own. I think Billy Durney is the definition of New York barbecue.

I do not think there is a New York barbecue scene, any more than there is a New York Italian scene. There are amazing Italian restaurants in New York, and you could eat that same food in Italy. Billy’s not trying to replicate Southern barbecue. He’s using those techniques and making food with his favorite New York flavors.

The biggest thing about barbecue in New York is now it has become a driving force. There’s more than just Blue Smoke and Hill Country. It’s a real legitimate, culinary category. I’m so happy about that. I think it’s the best food, and everybody should have a taste of barbecue whether they can get to the South or not. New York should have a big barbecue community.