NEW MILFORD, N.J. – New Milford’s own Shannon Ambrosio takes on the best pitmasters of the South in “Big Bad BBQ Brawl,” a new Cooking Channel show to premiere 10 p.m. June 7.
The Brooklyn-born Ambrosio is best known in New York City and Pier 13 in Hoboken, where he parks his Come ’N Get It Gourmet BBQ truck and sells his unique brand of “Brooklyn barbecue.”
On the four-episode show, the Brooklyn native and his crew head to four Southern states, stopping first in Mississippi. At each state, Ambrosio picks up pointers, gets to know the locals, and puts his Northern barbecue skills to the test by challenging somebody to a cook-off.
In Mississippi, he takes on the guys from the BBQ spot, Murky Water, in a sandwich showdown. Subsequent shows highlight Ambrosio's antics in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
“At every location, we do a different protein, a different side,” he said. “There’s always a twist. It could be anything from cocktails to desserts to brisket to pork shoulders.”
The reputation of Ambrosio’s food truck landed him the gig. It made him famous for his ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, brisket sandwiches, signature bacon chocolate chip cookies, and much more.
“My sandwiches do amazing. They’re served on brioche,” Ambrosio said. “That’s the elevating aspect of what I do. I don’t serve things on white bread. I have a homemade barbecue sauce that has apple butter and honey in it.”
“Big Bad BBQ Brawl” has a message: Barbecue is not just a Southern thing. Every place on the planet has some type of outdoor cooking tradition.
“The oldest cooking form in history is cooking with fire outside,” Ambrosio said. “Barbecue pitmasters are not creating anything. We are reinventing barbecue and reinforming people about what has been done since the dawn of time.”
The 40something Ambrosio has a degree in the culinary arts from Hudson County Community College. After a career in fashion, he took to the streets in his food truck, now in its seventh season.
The show, he said, is one of the most amazing things he’s ever done.