Sounds like a frat party worthy of Will Ferrell, right? Wrong! There is one more element to these monthly meetings, a bit of healthy competition to bring the best original dish. The recipes are voted upon based solely on flavor, not how many different kinds of meat can be ground into a single burger patty. The results are pork belly tacos, prosciutto sriracha burgers, coffee-rubbed steak and bacon infused vodka - because at the end of the day it is a assembly of dudes.
It wasn’t always gourmet. Six years ago, the group started with founder Jesse Valenciana inviting seven friends to grill on a rooftop while his then-girlfriend was out of town. They made hamburgers and hot dogs. As night got later and more beers were empty than full, they declared that they would recreate that night for others to enjoy. It was the first of many ManBQues.
The meetings grew from half dozen to a dozen, and then 30-40 men were showing up every month. They meet up at backyards and rooftops around Chicago, arriving as strangers but often leaving as comrades united over a passion for the smell of charred meat, the sound of crackling charcoal and the taste of craft beers.
Within a few years ManBQue expanded to six states and Canada, as well as a catering company that also hosts events at local bars. Members can sign up on their website or find them on Facebook. A new website, cook book and TV show are in the works.
Regardless of how hot the ManBQue empire becomes, Valenciana describes himself as a “proud papa” watching over his fellow ManBQuers as they evolve from frozen patties to making their own sausages.