Search

  Home
  Cook
  Watch
  Read
  Marketplace
  Subscribe
  News
  BBQ Magazine
  Say Hello
  BBQ magazine Merchandise
 

Join us on      

@thebbqmag for all

MENU
 

 

 
 

Join the Traegerhood join the Q

If you want to meet a world champion pitmaster, you’d expect to travel to the southern states of America, not to a city in England’s West Midlands. RUPERT BATES talks BBQ in Birmingham with Diva Q

 Rupert Bates   Autumn 2022

Join us on        @thebbqmag

 #DivaQ #Traeger

 
 

 

 

It was hot enough to grill a steak on the tarmac. But this was not Interstate 75, a Florida road much travelled by Danielle Bennett, it was the car park of the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England.

Danielle Bennett, known to one and all in the live-fire firmament as ‘Diva Q’, was in the Midlands city wearing her distinctive Traeger cap and cooking up a ton of meat, rubbed in inspiration and marinated in passion, to showcase the globally renowned pellet grill.


Traeger, founded over 30 years ago in Mt Angel, Oregon, talks of the Traegerhood – a community of like-minded souls from all walks of life – chefs, pitmasters, hunters and home cooks, or new ‘residents’ just starting their wood-fired cooking journey. 

If Traeger is a Traegerhood, then Diva Q – a world champion pitmaster – is its Godmother, spreading the word and the magic smoke across the world. Evangelical? You betcha. But then the smells and flavours emanating from the smoked Texas beef rib and the smoked BBQ chicken were a near-religious experience – and surely the first in a car park amid two million square feet of conference space off the M42.

Traeger was just one of the exhibitors – from the top BBQ brands to the latest garden furniture and every accessory in between – at the Summer Outdoor Living Exhibition (SOLEX), run by the Leisure Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA).

Danielle had already conducted a short tour of England, taking in a Traeger demo at Altons Garden Centre, Essex. Travel certainly doesn’t faze Diva Q, who has cooked and taught BBQ across the globe, be it Australia, Norway or Israel, even keeping a set of kosher cooking tools in Tel Aviv.

It’s travel that triggered her obsession. Born in Ontario, Canada, Danielle’s family were classic ‘snowbirds’ driving to Florida for sunshine holidays. En route they would stop at southern barbecue shacks and restaurants. Indeed, a particular pulled pork sandwich of such flavour and char at a particular shack was her Eureka moment. It was one of over 650 BBQ restaurants since visited, not to mention more than 20,000 students taught around the world, passing on her knowledge and enthusiasm with a no-nonsense simplicity. She’s the drill, or grill, sergeant you would always listen to, but equally would love to have a beer with, or, in Diva Q’s case, probably a bourbon ‘served neat,’ or her own whiskey cocktail with her Traeger whiskey syrup.

She may cook low and slow, but Danielle talks hot and fast. “It’s not just about the food; you’re feeding the soul too, BBQ brings people together, it is engaging and captivating – an endowment of goodness. Who gets upset at a barbecue?”

There is a holy trinity of fire, protein and friendship, as Diva Q effortlessly conducts her Birmingham masterclasses. I hover near the Traeger grills – the smart seagull knowing that meat she’s cooking and talking about will end up in paper boats all called HMS Flavour. I think I sunk a flotilla of grilled pork belly alone. 

 

 

“Life’s too short for bad BBQ.” I write that down. “I’ve officially trademarked that by the way!”

It is some leap from 16 years ago when her business life was all about HR and marketing. Trained as a chef, Danielle started judging BBQ competitions. “I’ve always loved the art of food and cooking. My first judging contest was so memorable, such a rush absorbing all the barbecuing and the people around me, savouring every moment.”

Three days later she bought her first smoker. Then it was off to Texas to learn the art and craft from legends of the fire. “I travelled anywhere BBQ was served, eating at every joint I could find, asking every question. It didn’t matter if it was a one-man shack serving chicken over a charcoal-filled barrel on the side of the road, or a high-end restaurant with the latest technology. What really inspires me and continues to, are the stories behind these BBQ folks and what drives them,” says Danielle.

She was soon competing herself and has won over 400 awards for her cooking, with one particular highlight – winning the World Championship of Pork and Bacon.

But her own accolades are nothing compared to the thrill Danielle gets teaching others, creating ‘backyard rock stars.’

As well as a teacher and author, Danielle is a television and radio presenter on the likes of the Food Network and the Travel Channel. She is also fascinating to listen to as a historian, talking through not just the BBQ melting pots of the Southern states and the world beyond, but the evolution of barbecue and how cooking styles are often drawn by railway lines and farming, dictated by regional economics and parish produce. She explains the part played by immigrants in how techniques, meats and flavours evolved, how the discarded ‘cheap’ cuts were elevated, with women the original pitmasters, while the men tilled the fields.

“I’m a culinary sponge. I love to learn and am always learning. I am fascinated by the science of food. It is so important not to be intimidated by food and cooking but embrace it.”

Surveying SOLEX, Diva Q acknowledges the huge rise in interest, as well as cooking expertise, in the British BBQ community. “It is growing massively. 

There is a real passion for BBQ food in this country and I love the relationships with local butchers. The barbecue scene in the UK is only going to get bigger and better.” 

As global ambassadors for BBQ, they don’t come much better than Diva Q as I devour another boat – this one a ribeye steak bobbing on a chimichurri lake. For three summer days Birmingham was the unlikely centre of the BBQ world.



 


All Articles

 

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your views on this article!


note your comment will not appear immediately upon submission

 

 

 

 

There are no videos linked to this story

 

There are no audio files linked to this story

 

There are no image galleries linked to this story

   
   
 

Get BBQ insights

Join our mailing list to be kept up-to-date with everything that is going on at BBQ HQ.

Every now and again, we'll email you the latest BBQ news, new recipes to try, BBQ community news, and a preview of what is coming in our next edition.

Simply fill in the form opposite - we won't bombard you with click bait, and you can opt out at any time.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©2023 The BBQ Magazine. All rights reserved. The BBQ Magazine is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 13094123.

Cookies

BBQ magazine uses cookies for analytical and technical purposes to improve our service to you. Please choose whether to only allow technical cookies, or accept all. more information here