World BBQ Championships in Limerick: Everything you need to know

World BBQ Championships starts in Limerick this evening, with 100 teams from 30 countries competing for the grand prize

 Chef John Relihan (right), and  Patrick O’Sullivan, president of the World BBQ Association,  at the launch of the World BBQ Championships which take place in Limerick this weekend. Photograph:  Arthur Ellis

Chef John Relihan (right), and Patrick O’Sullivan, president of the World BBQ Association, at the launch of the World BBQ Championships which take place in Limerick this weekend. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

 

“This is not your sausages and burgers, it’s the Cordon Bleu of barbecue,” Patrick O’Sullivan, president of the World BBQ Association (WBQA), said when Ireland beat Rome and Vilnius to the right to host the World BBQ Championships, which take place in Limerick city this weekend.

There are 100 teams of up to six “fire chefs” from 30 countries, including an all female squad from Sweden, taking part in the event. Ireland will have 10 teams in contention in the biennial championships, which sees backyard barbecue enthusiasts pitted against professionals.

Teams will compete in eight categories, cooking chicken, fish, beef brisket, pork ribs, pork shoulder, vegetarian, dessert and a chef’s choice, which must be reflective of their native country.

Irish ingredients

The ingredients will be Irish in origin and each team will have an identical basket of produce to work with. Pre-prepared sauces and readymade marinades are not permitted, but teams are allowed to bring their own signature herbs and spices with them.

The prizefund for the event is €15,000, a third of which will go to the winning team, who will have the best combined score. There will also be winners in each category.

“What makes us different is that we celebrate the culinary and cultural differences of every country and promote each of their unique styles of barbecue cooking and presentation,” O’Sullivan said. The WBQA is active in almost 50 countries across Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia, and has its administration office in Limerick.

“Food, Fire, Friendship and Fun” is the WBQA’s motto, and it supports sharing information and promoting interest in barbecue. In addition to the barbecue strongholds of the US and South America, the association has membership in many countries where competitive barbecue is at a developmental stage, including Libya, the Ivory Coast and Vietnam.

“The WBQA is an international not-for-profit organisation, and we celebrate the culinary and cultural differences of every country, promoting each unique style of cooking and presentation, through the sport of barbecue,” says O’Sullivan.

John Relihan will be sharing his top tips for successful barbecue cooking at the World Championships in Limerick. Photograph: Arthur Ellis
John Relihan will be sharing his top tips for successful barbecue cooking at the World Championships in Limerick. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

Irish pitmaster John Relihan, who was one of Jamie Oliver’s original apprentices in the televised Fifteen chef apprentice scheme, and is now head chef at Holy Smoke in Cork, is the event’s ambassador and will be doing barbecue demonstrations all weekend.

“Cooking over fire and with fire is a very sociable experience, it brings people together and connects us in a wonderful way through food,” said Relihan, who was previously head chef at Oliver’s Barbecoa restaurant in London.

The work of the 600 competitors will be blind judged by 150 certified WBQA judges, who will awards marks for taste, texture, appearance and presentation.

The championships will bring €1 million to the local economy, according to Fáilte Ireland. “International events such as these which deliver high numbers of tourism bed nights, in this case 2,600, in October, which is traditionally shoulder season, are of huge economic value,” said Miriam Kennedy of Fáilte Ireland.

Open to the public

The People’s Park is the venue for the competition, which gets underway on Friday at 4pm and will conclude on Sunday. It is open to the public and tickets, €5 on Friday and €10 at the weekend, are available on site (free admission for children under 18 accompanied by an adult).

The festival will also have food and craft stalls, live music, children’s entertainment areas, and craft beer, gin and whiskey bars. Opening hours are 4-10pm on Friday, and 11am-10pm on Saturday and Sunday. For the full programme, see world-bbq.com.

The Culture and Chips festival, celebrating the city’s culinary and cultural strengths, also takes place in Limerick this weekend. While meat lovers will be celebrating all things carnivorous in the People’s Park, a competition to find the world’s best chips, and accompanying sauces, will be the focus of this event. The full programme of events is at cultureandchips.com.

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