Over 100 people gathered Sunday at 21c for Freedom Run Farm’s Baabaaq and Bourbon, where they got to try lamb ribs from Serge Katz at Flavaville Food Truck and lamb barbecue by five different chefs from 5 different cities.

The audience voted with wooden tokens to select Cincinnati’s Hotel Covington Executive Chef Mitchell J. Arens as the “Baabaaq Master” trophy winner. Chef Arens and his team served up Argentinian style lamb.

“This was my first barbecue competition, but it’s something I love to do,” said Chef Arens. “We got the barrel [from Pit Barrel Cooker Co] in to try out, and I tried a couple things and tested. Lamb is one of my favorite foods. We do it three different ways at the restaurant.” 

People watched with curiosity as the live demonstrations showed them how to use a traditional approach to butchering and use of a whole lamb (by Jeff Fisher, Kingsley’s Meat Market), a seamless approach to lamb butchery (by Jeremy Frederikson) , Sous Chef at Proof on Main), and a demonstration on lamb fries (testicles) by acclaimed Chef Oita Michel, who owns a portfolio of restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky.

“I have long followed lamb fries because they were so popular in the central part of the state and around Lexington,” said Chef Michel, speaking about Kentucky’s heritage from the 1903s through 1980s. “Now they’ve completely vanished from our culinary landscape…They are a little difficult to sell to people, but they are 100% lean, super high in protein and very tender. It’s very difficult to find a protein that has all three of those attributes. I really wanted to demonstrate them and get a few younger people to see them and try them.”

Other bites from Proof on Main included lamb tartare and a couple delicious desserts: an “Old Fashioned Pate Be Fruit” and a raspberry blood orange poptart with lamb fat frosting, which was amazing with a good balance of sweet and savory flavors.

Each of the chefs served up their own unique variation on lamb barbecue with very different flavors.

Louisville Team: Chef Kevin Ashworth, 610 Magnolia, served lamb with spicy mayo, ranch chimichurri, and garden radishes.

Lexington Team: Chef Bob Perry, Chef in Residence, UK College of Agriculture, and Chef Wyatt Sarbacker served up their lamb with bourbon sorghum barbecue sauce, pickled onions, pickled cucumbers and pickled walnuts –  all made with Madhouse Vinegar from Cincinnati.

Nashville Team: Chef Hrant Arakelian, Lyra, served a Middle Eastern-style lamb with Omani spice rub, (cumin, coriander, date mollasses and fennegreek) that was smoked and then roasted – served up with fresh mint, cabbage slaw and a garlic sauce.

Indianapolis: Chef Alan Sternberg, Common House, prepared his lamb with pecan in Oak, pickled shallots and pickled cucumber on top of white bread.