Backyard barbecues are one of life’s great pleasures. Sizzling meat on the grill, with the aroma wafting through the yard, and happy friends and relatives enjoying delicious, casual food, are highlights of this summer ritual. But the hosts miss out on much of the fun when they are busy doing the grilling, refilling and cleaning. That’s where Elliott Bookman comes to the rescue.
Bookman’s BBQ has a telling slogan: “Feel like a guest at your own party.” Elliott Bookman and his staff do all the work so the hosts can be relaxed and enjoy their company. With his background in meat and catering, Elliott can organize the entire event or just come to grill. “I do all the grilling at the party,” he emphasized. “No meats are pre-cooked; they are all fresh and seasoned.” He can also bring condiments, sides and desserts, tables and chairs, even his own grills. “If you’re having 100 people, your one grill can get maxed out pretty quickly,” he noted. Rain won’t spoil the fun; Elliott will still man the grill and bring the food inside to dry, comfortable guests.
Elliott coordinates events of all sizes. He arranged a barbecue for four people at a winery in Jackson, New Jersey, and ran a concession stand for a LinkedIn event with 1,000 people. He consults with the hosts on their menu choices and any allergy alerts that would affect food preparation.
It was an 11th grade culinary arts course at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway that started Elliott’s trajectory to a career in the food industry. He loved the four-day-a-week class that taught him how to cook with different flavors and textures. He was always happy to do his cooking homework. After graduating, he worked for Greenwald Caterers where he learned knife skills and more sophisticated techniques. Then he became the third generation to work in his family’s business, Bookman’s Kosher Meat Market in Lakewood.
Elliott told The Jewish Link that Bookman’s BBQ began as a favor. He was playing ice hockey with his friends when one asked if he could help with a barbecue for his son’s upsherin. Then another friend asked Elliott to help grill at his barbecue. “That struck a chord in my mind,” he said. “I could provide a service that people need.” He began in 2015, posting on Instagram and advertising in Lakewood, developing a reputation as the go-to guy for a crowd-pleasing, stress-free barbecue. Now he is expanding to most of the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area and Rockland County.
Beef burgers and hot dogs are the mainstay of most barbecues, but Elliott also gets requests for chicken and steak. He advises anyone grilling chicken to go for the baby chicken for the best texture and flavor. His favorite steaks to grill are skirt steak and ribeye. He shared a tip for skirt steak: Make it less salty by soaking it in water for an hour or two, rinse and repeat. Then sear at high heat with a little coarse black pepper and fresh garlic. Slice and use as a topping for salad.
“I don’t feel like I’m working when I do a barbecue,” Elliott said. “And I look forward to each one.” Contact Bookman’s BBQ at 1/732-779-1677 or [email protected].
By Bracha Schwartz