If you didn't already know, this week is UK BBQ Week, which has been organised by a dedicated team aiming to encourage everyone from the young to the old, male and female to pick up the tongs and cook up some amazing BBQ food, for their families and friends. We caught up with Marcus Bawdon, as he is one of the founders (and who you might be familiar with via this blog) to find out some more:
Hi there Marcus, so the campaign is well under way now but how long have you been cracking away at this and how did it all get started?
UK BBQ Week has been going a few years now, its run by a team of enthusiasts like myself who love to BBQ. We just want to encourage more people to cook over flame, coals and smoke and enjoy the process of cooking outdoors.
As a nation, are we still stuck in a rut with burgers and bangers, or do you think we are becoming more adventurous and imaginative with BBQ?
Plenty of people love to cook simple BBQ food, with little fuss, and that is cool. But there is a growing group of people who are becoming ever more adventurous with the food they are cooking outdoors, and we are seeing a real melting pot fusion of ideas, ingredients, and techniques right now. It's an exciting time really.
Is there anyone on the BBQ scene in the UK right now who is doing anything particularly different?
Lots of people are developing their own styles which is great to see, and the number of people stepping up and cooking more seriously is growing all the time, it wouldn't be fair for me to pick one, UK BBQ is a great community and we all inspire and encourage each other.
You have the campaign mapped out quite specifically, with days dedicated not only to roasts and burgers but also meat free days and pizza. Why have you done this?
We like to give a bit of structure to those who want it and it's a great feeling to see what others cook on the same day as you. It's kind of like watching the same TV show and when we compare notes, it all helps build the spirit of camaraderie.
For Chef's Choice on Thursday, if we could get Mr Turner over to your place, what dish would you like him to cook? (By the way, he doesn't know he's being booked in yet!)
I would love to spend an evening with him, as he has always been a big inspiration to me. I think I would love just a nice steak grilled - with an RHT twist. And maybe a bottle of red, or two.
What is your favourite cut or joint of meat for BBQ?
Oooo tricky one, probably a hanger steak. I love the taste and texture and that it is relatively inexpensive. Cooked dirty of course.
Lots of enthusiasts spend time and money on kit but how important is your set-up when it comes to BBQ?
You can cook great BBQ on a simple circle of bricks with a grate on top. But as you cook trickier longer things, having a few toys makes life a bit easier. A meat thermometer for instance is great to have onboard, to help you get your confidence going.
What has been your best BBQ experience? (And what has been your worst?)
Best was demoing dirty steaks in front of a crowd at Meatopia last year. That was a real buzz.
Worst was trying my hand at BBQ catering for 100 people. I'm not built for the stress of it and I really didn't enjoy it.
The main aim behind the campaign is to show how easy and rewarding it is to grill outdoors, 365 days a year. What is the strangest day you have had when cooking outside though?
BBQ is really a lot easier than people think and the food I cook isn't complicated at all. I once had a day cooking for a group of chefs though, who hadn't any experience of BBQ. Some of the questions they asked me were very strange and one chef in particular was very enthusiastic about wanting to use lighter fluid to get things going. Which troubled me a little bit (and we didn't use lighter fluid.)
What are your plans for the campaign in the future? These are unusual times but surely a little gathering next year could be a good idea?
A lot of work goes into UK BBQ Week behind the scenes, we like to keep it simple, and enjoyable, none of the team are paid, and do this because they are passionate and want to encourage people to enjoy their BBQ. It would be a great idea, but none of us are events managers, and that takes a lot of work to arrange. Never say never though!
Last of all - why the Hawaiian shirts?
Ha! Loads of people ask me that. If you've ever spilt BBQ sauce down a white shirt, you'll know, and a Hawaiian shirt hides a multitude of sauce stains...
Most importantly, it is also fun and that’s the bottom line. BBQ should be fun
Photos by Marcus Bawdon and Nick Hook Photography.