Weekend Planner: Starr-Maddox BBQ Challenge

This morning’s news cast promised me a weekend of warm temps without the usual side of stifling humidity. How to celebrate? Get outside, of course. There’s a Phillies game to be seen and, prior to that, some serious eating to do. This weekend, head to South Philly’s Sports Complex for the ninth annual Starr-Maddox BBQ Challenge.

You know Stephen Starr as the local celebrity restaurateur. You know Garry Maddox as the former centerfielder for our phabulous Phillies. Saturday, see them together as they dish out plate after plate of smokey, saucy goodness, all to benefit the Youth Golf & Academics Program, an organization that supplies learning and athletic assistance to children in troubled area neighborhoods.

The event is free to attend;  tasting tickets are available in three for $15 packets. Bomb Bomb BBQ Grill, Bull’s BBQ, Butcher and Singer, Capt’n Dick’s BBQ, Carolina Blue Smokehouse & Taproom, Continental Mid-town, El Vez, El Rey, Great American Pub, Jones, McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon, Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant, Morimoto, New Orleans Cafe, Rosey’s BBQ and Rouge will be among the Philadelphia dining destinations serving up their BBQ best.

Be sure to taste their pretty plates, but also save some room for the pitmaster division: local Joes who know a thing or two about a smoker and are ready to show off their goods.

Awards will be presented to the best chicken, ribs and “Chef’s Choice” in both the professional and pitmaster divisions, with an overall best in show award coming with a trip to the 2010 World Series. Deciding their fate will be a panel of celebrity judges, including Phillies alumni Larry Andersen and Greg Luzinski and broadcasters Scott Franzke and Tom McCarthy. Kevin Sbraga from Bravo’s Top Chef and pork pro Tony Luke are also scheduled to attend.

The Starr-Maddox BBQ Challenge runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. along Citizens Bank Way, just outside Citizens Bank Park. Visit www.garysbbqchallenge.org for more information.