Top international chefs set for Dublin’s BBQ festival
‘Low and slow’ cooking takes centre stage at the fourth Big Grill festival, with added pigs’ heads, ‘sexed up shwarma’ and craft beers
John Relihan – formerly head chef of Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa BBQ restaurant – who will be at the Big Grill BBQ Festival
Rotisserie pig at last year’s Big Grill BBQ Festival
The line-up for the fourth The Big Grill BBQ and Craft Beer Festival in Dublin’s Herbert Park (August 17th-20th) has been announced and features a stellar line-up of international experts in cooking over fire, as well as some well known Irish chefs making the foray into live fire cooking for the first time.
Dublin-born chef Robin Gill will be bringing a flavour of his London restaurants The Dairy, The Manor, Paradise Garage and Counter Culture to the leafy environs of the Dublin 4 park. Gill says he intends to cook "Achill lamb rib, with fennel kimchi, and I'm also planning to cook lamb offal of all types, over fire."
Barry FitzGerald of Dublin 8 restaurant Bastible will also be getting hot and smoky when he brings his kitchen out into the open air for the festival.
“I will be cooking with my sous chef Brendan Kearney. I love cooking offal, and it’s not often seen on food stalls at festivals. I had a good chat with [festival co-founder] Andy Noonan and we were both excited by the prospect of cooking offal over open fire.
“I haven’t finalised the dish, but I’m currently experimenting with lamb hearts and pig heads,” FitzGerald says. “We are hoping to come up with something really special, with an Irish feel to it.”
As is the rule for this festival, all cooking must be done with live fire, using natural charcoal and wood only, with no gas or electric heat allowed.
The international line-up is headed by Andy Ricker, chef/owner of the Pok Pok chain of restaurants in Portland, Oregon and New York, which specialise in northern Thai street food. Expect to queue for his famous fish sauce chicken wings, and he will also be cooking authentic Northern Thai delicacies such as pig offal on his grill.
In addition to his six restaurants, one of which (Pok Pok in Brooklyn) has a Michelin star, Ricker has also set up a company selling Thai drinking vinegars (diluted in soda water or used in cocktails) and another selling Thai-style charcoal logs made from rambutan fruit wood.
Neil Rankin, who set up Pitt Cue and is now at the helm of Temper in London, is also on the bill. “Smoke gets in your eyes at Temper, but it’s the sumptuous rendered meat that will make you weep,” was Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner’s verdict on the Soho basement bar and grill where the charred meats are sold by weight.
“Sexed up shwarma” is what’s promised from another London chef, Josh Katz. The “first ladies of ’cue” Shauna Guinn and Samantha Evans, will bring tastes from their Welsh restaurant Hang Fire Smokehouse to the party. The pair are ‘low and slow’ experts, cookbook authors, and regulars on the UK festival circuit.
It wouldn’t be an Irish smoke session without former Jamie Oliver protégé John Relihan of Holy Smoke in Cork. “Wild game, seafood, and some surprises”, are what Relihan promises this year, in a move away from big cuts of meat.
Asador restaurant in Dublin will offer an Argentinian style parilla, with lamb, beef ribs and ember-roasted vegetables, and Box Burger, Kinara Kitchen and Fowl Play are also signed up.
Holy whole cow!
Andy Noonan, co-founder of The Big Grill, Nick Weston of Hunter Gather Cook, a foraging and cookery school in Sussex that specialises in game butchery, and Matt Williams of Oxford Charcoal have moved on from pigs and lambs and will be cooking a whole cow over fire, with the slow roasted beef served on the final day of the festival.
A new ‘Bastecamp’ will be the festival hub, and will offer panel discussions, interviews and “heated chats”, as well as opportunities to take part in butchery, barbecue and smoking workshops.
Bodytonic are co-ordinating a strong musical line-up and there will be 25 craft breweries on site. Sunday is family day, and the hot wing, chilli and burger eating challenges are back again, for the hardiest souls.
Tickets are now on sale at biggrillfestival.com. The starting price is €7.50 (Thursday and Friday, minimum purchase two tickets), and a whole hogg four-day ticket is €29.