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Chef Ronnie Killen (left) with Chef Michael Symon.

On Sunday, October 18, Pearland’s own Ronnie Killen, of Killen’s Barbecue and Killen’s Steakhouse, proudly represented his hometown as one of a handful of out-of-town chefs hand selected to participate in Meatopia, “the world’s most famous meat event”. Now in its eighth year, Meatopia is the culminating event during the four-day Food Network & Cooking Channel’s New York City Wine & Food Festival.

Meatopia was created and envisioned by the late carnivorous visionary and James Beard Award-winning Esquire writer Josh Ozersky. Before his untimely passing in May, Ozersky, while scouring the country for standout meat cookery, visited Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland, Texas. During his Easter Sunday visit, Ozersky extended his first participant invite for Meatopia 2015 to Ronnie Killen, who enthusiastically accepted.

“Meatopia is one of the events I have been wanting to do as long as I can remember,” says Killen. “It was a huge honor to be invited and even more than I could have dreamed of. We had a blast.”

Called “a meat-lover’s paradise” by New York Magazine, and a “bacchanal of pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, turkey and quail” by The New York Times, Meatopia has a simple concept: The greatest meat chefs in the world cook every part of every animal over open fires. Food Network chef and epic carnivore Michael Symon hosted the festival of live music, fine wines, cold beer, cocktails and the greatest concentration of sizzling, crusty, delicious meat ever seen.

This year 30 cooking stations fed 3,000 hungry festival goers on the rooftop of Pier 92 in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Despite being the new guys in town, it didn’t take long before wordspread through the festival and a queue of guests formed at Killen’s Barbecue station, reminiscent of the lines of die-hard fans and barbecue pilgrims alike seen waiting outside the restaurant in Pearland every day.

The Killen’s team offered New Yorkers a taste of a few of the restaurant’s most popular menu items: beef short ribs, burnt ends and pecan smoked brisket points, prepared simply with Killen’s signature salt-and-pepper spice rub and smoked overnight with post oak. The team also served up 30 gallons of Ronnie’s legendary creamed corn, another crowd pleaser.

As out-of-town participants, the Killen’s Barbecue team was grateful to utilize the facilities offered by Hill Country Barbecue Market in downtown Brooklyn. Meat was provided by Creekstone, the purveyor that Killen uses in his home kitchen, as well.  Joining Ronnie Killen as part of his Meatopia team were Killen’s Steakhouse chef Chris Loftis, former Killen’s Steakhouse chef Teddy Lopez, now at Izakaya, and Christopher Prieto of PRIME Barbecue in North Carolina.

At the close of the three-hour affair, Ronnie Killen joined fellow chef participants and host Michael Symon onstage for a toast to pay homage to event founder, Josh Ozersky. Proceeds from the festival benefit No Kid Hungry and the Food Bank for New York City.

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