Everything you need to know about the Big Grill BBQ festival this weekend

Herbert Park hosts festival of cooking over fire and smoke from Thursday to Sunday

A whole cow on a spit, awfully adventurous ways with offal, "dirty grilling", hot smoking and a chilli eating challenge – there's a heat haze over the rarefied surrounds of Herbert Park in Dublin 4 this week, with the Big Grill Fest opening on Thursday and running until Sunday.

Bastecamp, a new addition to the programme, will offer a series of talks, discussions and masterclassses running over the four days of the festival, which is now in its fourth year. Nick Solares of The Meat Show on Eater. com will be the anchorman here and you can check out the full programme here.

Another new addition to the menu this year is the Whole Dexter Feast, which will see festival co-founder Andy Noonan join forces with Matt Williams of Oxford Charcoal and Nick Weston of Hunter Gather Cook, a foraging and cookery school in Sussex, to cook a whole steer. They're planning on giving the Dexter beef, from Eavaun Carmody's Killenure Castle farm herd, 24 hours over fire, and it will be a final day highlight.

Ramael Scully, head chef at NOPI in London, part of the Ottolenghi empire, will provide a bit of contrast in his presentation with Josh Katz of Berber & Q, also in London. The pair will give vegetables and meat equal billing and will cook cauliflower shawarma and smoked goat rendang on Sunday.


Neil Rankin, who set up Pitt Cue and is now at Temper in London, the Soho basement bar and grill where charred meats are sold by weight, is also doing smoked goat – in a taco – with smoked duck as an alternative. Rankin will be in action on both Saturday and Sunday.

The international line-up is strong, with a lot of interest in Andy Ricker, chef/owner of the Pok Pok chain of restaurants in Portland, Oregon and New York, which specialise in northern Thai street food. One of his six restaurants, Pok Pok in Brooklyn, has a Michelin star. On Saturday you can watch him cook "MSG grilled flank steak smashed with a hammer", and pig's brain mashed in curry paste.

Offal is a recurring theme at the Big Grill Fest this year, and Robin Gill of London restaurants The Dairy, The Manor, Paradise Garage and Counter Culture, will be barbecuing lamb heart, and serving it with smoked aubergine, toasted onion seed and mint. His second dish will be Achill Island lamb rib with fennel kimchi. and he is on the Saturday line-up.

Asado expert Ramiro Basilio from Buenos Aires will also be making the most of offal, as well as grilling beef to serve with his "chimihendrix" condiment.

Barry Fitzgerald’s Bastible restaurant will be in action on Sunday and as well as cockles and mussels with Chinese XO sauce, they’ll be using lamb neck and heart, with charred corn.

Jamie Oliver protegee John Relihan, now at Holy Smoke in Cork, will have "Dirty" Tomahawk on his grill on Thursday and Friday, and the Hometeam BBQ squad from North Carolina will have whole hog barbecue, as well as lamb ham and brisket, on offer on Thursday and Friday.

The programme also offers music, craft beers and drinks, food stalls and street food vendors, and the chance to watch brave, or foolhardy, souls take on hot wing, chilli and burger eating challenges on the main stage. Sunday is children’s day, with a full line-up of events to keep them amused.

Doors open at 12.30pm and admission is free before 2pm on Thursday and Friday (€15 after that time), and €18 at the weekend. Tickets can be bought and the complete programme viewed here.