BBQ throwdown in Old Mill Basin!

Chef Brett Fields puts the finishing touches on his famous — but ultimately losing — ribs at Saturday’s BBQ Throwdown on E. 58th Street in Old Mill Basin.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Jeffery Ahay has the best barbecue in Mill Basin.

You know why?

Because I said so.

That’s right, me, reporter Dan MacLeod — whose barbecue acumen was born during my days making the Kingsford glow like the midnight sun in my backyard in Maine.

That’s right, me, Dan MacLeod, who’s covered some of the most intense stories this century, including the opening of a Fiat dealership in Bay Ridge, and a cherry pit-spitting competition in Flatbush.

For years, a group of friends in Old Mill Basin argued over who had the best barbecue in the neighborhood.

So when the organizers of Old Mill Basin’s “BBQ Throwdown” needed an unbiased barbecue lover to rate their contestant’s smoky, sweet meat … they called my colleague, Tom Tracy.

And when he couldn’t make it because he had to go to his brother’s birthday dinner on Long Island, well, he transferred them over to me.

And I was ready for the task.

So there I was on E. 58th Street between Avenues N and O at 7 pm on Saturday night, bib draped around my neck, ready to sample and rate some of the chicken, pork and London broil that had been smoking all day.

Seven members of the E. 58th Street N20 Block Association were battling each other for barbecue bragging rights with only me — and my trusty gut (and two other judges) — blocking their path to glory.

Presentation played a major role in Saturday’s battle for BBQ domination in Old Mill Basin.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Now I may not be a chef, but I am a glutton — and I know what I like when it comes to barbecue (I recently ate nearly 2.5 pounds of barbecue at a spot in Florida in a special dish called “the Mother Lode.” Cleaned my plate, too. The waitress was impressed … and concerned).

And I found that perfect, delicate mix of smoke, sweetness, and spicy tang — in the 54-year-old Ahay’s barbecue.

“We’ve been having this [discussion] for a long time: Who can cook the best?” said Ahay, who snuck by his neighbor Lindon Seales by one — one! — point.

Why?

In the end, it came down to the taste, as both men scored high in presentation and texture.

In victory, Ahay explained exactly how he got the job done.

“It’s just plain-old simple home cooking — no specialty,” said Ahay. “I marinated the meat for six hours, then broiled and grilled.”

Ironically, Tom Tracy had hamburgers and hot dogs at his brother’s birthday party. You call that a barbecue?

Long live the king.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.

Watch your hands! Reporter Dan MacLeod was set loose on a backyard full of meat in a neighborhood association’s first annual barbecue competition.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

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