In cold, callous, commercial terms, Covid-19 has bolstered the barbecue market in a big way.
Strip away the emotion and heartache of it all, which you can’t, and the lockdowns meant people confined to their homes. We therefore had to eat and cook at home and, with fresh air within parish boundaries seemingly the only legal activity left to us, the answer was the back garden and that meant BBQ – lots of it.
Barbecue as a food movement was on a meteoric rise regardless, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated its growth and many manufacturers were caught short by the demand, exacerbated by myriad issues around the supply chain and imports and exports.
Of course, the flip side of the cooking at home revolution, or rather imperative, has been savage blows to the hospitality sector and our hotels, restaurants and pubs. Many have shown extraordinary resilience and innovation, pivoting their businesses to stagger to their feet only for another rule or regulation of dubious origin or effectiveness to club them to the floor again. They’ll get off the canvas again; they are that kind of people.
While BBQ magazine, of course, champions home cooking and firing up the garden grills for family and friends at every opportunity, we also champion the awesome public places and spaces we can go to eat and with an increasing number drawn to the fire and creating compelling outdoor dining experiences.
The likes of Lainston House in Hampshire and Northcote in Lancashire, both featured in this issue, offer the best of both worlds. Their schools will teach you how to barbecue, but you can also taste their professional wares at their garlanded hotel restaurants.
BBQ magazine is a partner of the Epicurean Club, a collection of boutique pubs and inns, including a selection of pubs leading the way in outdoor dining – barbecues and wood-fired ovens, terraces and shacks. Look at the list in this issue and get booking.
And a note to our Epicurean pub partners: if you’ve got sturdy garden tables, invite a few of those featured here. Their hearts are as big as their appetites. The Stoltman brothers are two of the strongest men in the world, leaving David Flatman as only the third strongest man in this issue, much to his chagrin.
Flats, or ‘Wilderness Dave’ as he now likes to be known, spoke to us from a West Country field, while Luke and Tom, the ‘Spicy Stoltmans’, flew down from the Scottish Highlands to learn the secrets of great BBQ – lots of great BBQ.
Infectious enthusiasm for live-fire cooking seeps from every pore of our pages. I can’t wait to get out and about more, press the flesh, taste the food and watch the fire, rather than just talking about it all through the prism of a laptop.
You should have seen BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker’s face when his children praised his al fresco cooking. But forget face time; I want face-to-face time, smoke and fire time, with the residents of our engaging, eclectic, enterprising, eccentric BBQ village.
Yours in live-fire cooking
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