Summer of BBQ events: world championships come to Ireland
Plus, learn how to select, grill and smoke meat at Smithfield’s free fire pit sessions
The World BBQ Championships are coming to Limerick in October
Limerick is set to be the barbecue capital of the world next October, when Ireland hosts the World BBQ Championships. The biannual event is expected to be attended by more than 100 teams, each made up of six experts in the art of cooking over fire.
Limerick beat Rome and Vilnius in the race to host the 2017 championships, which will take place in the People’s Park on October 13th-15th. In addition to the 600 competitors, 150 certified judges, and support teams will travel to Limerick for the event, and more than 40,000 spectators are expected to attend.
“This is not your sausages and burgers, it’s the Cordon Bleu of barbecue,” says Patrick O’Sullivan, who is president of the World BBQ Association (WBQA), formed in 1996.
World BBQ Academy
The association is active in almost 50 countries across Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia, and has its administration office in Limerick.
On March 25th, the WBQA opened a training facility, the World BBQ Academy, in Grange, Co Limerick, and its first students came from the Hospitality & Tourism Department of Limerick Institute of Technology, who participated in a two-day programme.
The centre will work with culinary students, coach amateur teams who want to take part in competitions, and will also train and certify judges.
Teams at the World Championships will compete in eight categories, cooking chicken, fish, beef brisket, pork ribs, pork shoulder, vegetarian, dessert and Chef’s Choice. The ingredients will be Irish and each team will be presented with an identical basket of ingredients to work with.
Pre-prepared sauces and readymade marinades are not allowed, but they are allowed to bring their own herbs and spices.
“We want each team to develop their own particular culinary style, which comes from their culture. It’s not just American or Irish cooking,” O’Sullivan says.
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 category winners.
There are already six Irish teams registered to compete at the event (the Irish BBQ Association, an affiliate of the WBQA, ratifies the Irish entrants), and up to 10 teams from the host country are expected, according to O’Sullivan. At the last WBQA World Championships, in Gothenburg, Sweden, the highest placed Irish team finished 15th.
“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.
The two-day event in Limerick will be managed by the the WBQA and hosted by its affiliate, the Irish BBQ Association (IBBQA). It will be open to the public, and the teams will be offering samples of their dishes to those who attend.
In advance of the World Championships, Irish barbecue enthusiasts will be turning their attention to The Big Grill festival which takes place in Herbert Park in Dublin 4 on August 17th-20th, with an international line-up confirmed for this annual event.
Andy Noonan, co-founder of The Big Grill and co-owner of Dublin wood-fired chicken restaurant Fowl Play, and DJ BBQ (Christian Stevenson), an international pitmaster and entertainer, will hit the streets of Dublin later this month for a Fire & Smoke Pitmaster Academy.
Smithfield fire pit
The academy will transform Smithfield Plaza in Dublin 7 into a low ’n’ slow fire pit and demo theatre on May 26th and 27th. There will be two two-hour sessions each day, covering grilling, smoking, making barbecue sauces, and selecting cuts of meat.
Noonan will follow DJ BBQ’s demonstration by taking to the stage to show participants how to create a Deep South menu, and will also serve his Pitmaster’s Platter.
The event is being run by the Fire & Smoke deli meats brand, and the sessions will be free to attend, but tickets can only be applied for by registering at pitmasteracademy.ie. Friday, May 26th, 12.30-2.30pm and 6.30-8.30pm, and Saturday, May 27th, 1-3pm and 5-7pm.