Windy City Smokeout — world-class barbecue the perfect pairing for world-class music

Some 10,000 sausages, 12,000 pounds of ribs, 18,000 pounds of brisket and 12,000 pounds of pulled pork will be served up at the four-day fest in Chicago.

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Soul & Smoke chef D’Andre Carter holds the Cajun corn (left) and hickory-smoked rib tips on Thursday, opening day for Windy City Smokeout at the United Center.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

When Chef D’Andre Carter and the team from Evanston’s Soul & Smoke attended their first Windy City Smokeout last year, they came armed with an abundance of their legendary hickory-smoked rib tips to serve up to the BBQ enthusiasts in attendance.

But it was their Cajun corn that people are still talking about.

“It was funny because our corn became a really big hit,” Chef Carter tells the Sun-Times. “They told us this year to knock out as much corn as possible this year, so we will be shucking corn all weekend.”

Specifically, Soul & Smoke plans to serve up 1,850 cobs of Cajun corn with the Pimento cheese and Parmesan on top, adding to the already hefty Windy City Smokeout menu over all that will offer approximately 10,000 sausages, 12,000 pounds of ribs, 18,000 pounds of brisket, 12,000 pounds of pulled pork and 2,500 pounds of pork belly over the course of the four-day music and food festival July 12-16 on the Near West Side.



When: To July 16

Where: United Center Parking Lot C, 1901 West Madison

Tickets: $59.95+


Thirty of the world’s best pitmasters will be dishing up barbecue at the United Center’s Parking Lot C.

“It’s not like this meat is just served up on the same metal tray with the wax paper that you’re used to seeing, though,” says Edward Warm, co-founder of Windy City Smokeout, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. “These pitmasters take so many creative twists with their food.”

Take for example Chicago’s Lillie’s Q, which will be serving up its signature walking taco featuring Pimento cheese kettle chips, pulled pork, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce.

“We were one of five restaurant teams here during the very first year of Windy City Smokeout and there’s 30 teams here this year from around the country,” says Charlie McKenna, chef and founder of Lillie’s Q. “I would say we’ve got some of the best and talented barbecue people in the world cooking here.”


Lillie’s Q chef Charlie McKenna holds two of the Chicago restaurant’s Windy City Smokeout offerings: pork steak adobo and mashed potato salad (left) and walking pulled pork taco.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

One of those barbecue people will be Leslie Roark Scott, owner and chef of Ubon’s BBQ in Yazoo City, Mississippi, who says she left at 4 a.m. Wednesday to get the first of over 500 pounds of meat on the smoker before the night was through.

“We’ll be cooking up the one that brought us to the dance, which is our pork sandwich that we’ve been doing since I was 16 years old,” explains Scott. “But we’re also doing something a little different where we will be frying up pork skins and then topping them with baked beans, pulled pork and barbecue sauce.”

Over 80,000 people are expected to attend and enjoy the fare featured at this year’s Windy City Smokeout, which also includes performances from country music greats such as Zach Bryan, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band and Luke Bryan. “This event has always been the marriage of barbecue and country music,” says Warm. “We never take our focus off of that.”


Leslie Roark Scott, chef at Ubons BBQ in Mississippi, pours sauce over a pulled pork sandwich at Windy City Smokeout.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

At the same time, the event also allows a moment to shine the spotlight on a handful of Chicago’s best BBQ restaurants, which this year includes newcomers 3 Little Pigs and Lexington Betty’s alongside longtime Windy City Smokeout favorites such as Bub City, Green Street Smoked Meats, Pearl’s Southern Comfort and Smoque BBQ.

People stand in line for food at Windy City Smokeout at the United Center on Thursday afternoon. The festival continues through Sunday.

People stand in line for food at Windy City Smokeout at the United Center parking lot on Thursday afternoon. The festival continues through Sunday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“Chicago is not normally known as a barbecue mecca like North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Kansas City,” explains McKenna of Lillie’s Q. “So, I think it’s great to have this event in a major city like this and have all these great pitmasters and country stars come to our city and see what Chicago has to offer.”

“I think that’s part of the reason why we don’t make Windy City Smokeout a competition,” adds Warm, who “can’t wait” to get his hands on the brisket from Phoenix-based Little Miss BBQ. “It’s more of a celebration of barbecue. I think our team does such a great job of finding new and exciting options for everybody who comes to [Windy City] Smokeout.”

And he means everyone.

Even the pitmasters themselves.

“Little Miss BBQ does a green chili burrito that I’ve been thinking about for a solid year,” Scott adds with a laugh. “I can’t wait to eat it.”

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