Food

The summers of days gone by where dad would light the BBQ with beer in one hand and tongs in the other whilst mum and Aunty Sharon would prepare the salads have changed a lot albeit for the better. Nowadays it wouldn't be unusual to find dad and uncle Bob preparing the salads whilst the Ladies of the day prepare the famous Aussie tradition. But that's another debate. Today we focus on all things BBQ and if it wasn't already popular now (how dare we even imagine it couldn't be) last year it leapt in monstrous bounds due to a vision of 2 regular Aussie blokes. Matt Vitale and John Curtain. We cornered Matt with our own lethal pair of tongs and threw a couple of curly snags at him...

1.   Where did the inspiration come from for this type of festival?

The Yak Ales Barbecue Festivals were inspired by the many barbecue festivals that take place during the summer months throughout the United States. Many of these events revolve around barbecue cook-offs, where amateur and professional cooking teams battle it out for cash, prizes and barbecue glory. The Kansas City Barbeque Society is the world’s largest organisation or barbecue enthusiasts with over 20,000 members globally, and they sanction over 450 of these barbecue cook-offs annually. I became involved with KCBS after I competed at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Tennessee in 2013.

2.     Describe what people can expect when visiting the festival in 2016.

The festival is at Flemington Racecourse on 6 February 2016 and involves a barbecue cook-off sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, a barbecue food festival showcasing a diverse range of barbecue styles, and an exhibition of the latest and greatest barbecue equipment sourced locally and from overseas. There will also be free demonstrations and exhibitions from local and international barbecue experts, live music and kids activities. Tickets are available via moshtix here http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/the-yaks-melbourne-barbecue/80884 

3.     Compare the American bbq industry to ours. What are some of the more notable differences. Styles of cooking, tastes in cuts, sauces / marinades used etc.

Barbecue really is America’s cuisine, and as you would expect in a country as large and diverse as the United States, there are many different regional styles and variations. In Australia, we’re still finding our way. The enthusiasm over the last couple of years for low and slow style barbecue has been phenomenal. It’s great that people are discovering American barbecue and trying to recreate dishes made famous in the States, but it's really exciting to see local restaurants adapting American methods and techniques to local produce, which is happening more and more.

4.     Due to the success of the first year do you have plans to extend the festival to other parts of Australia?

Certainly, we are holding our first event in Sydney at the Domain on 30 January 2016, and we have plans to extend the festival to other parts of Australia as well. We were blown away by the support for our first event. We’ve made some changes for next year and will continue to refine the events with the aim of offering a great day out, an authentic experience, and value for money.

5.     One of the festival highlights is the BBQ cook off competition. Tell us a bit about it and are there still spots available?

Teams must cook on-site using barbecues that are fired by wood, wood pellets or charcoal (i.e. no electricity or gas), and turn in dishes in the following categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket. The contest is run strictly in accordance with the KCBS rules (which is the international benchmark for contests like this), and entires are judged in accordance with KCBS proprietary blind-judging process by certified barbecue judges. There are spots available in the barbecue cook-off, but you’ll have to be quick as registrations close on Sunday 20 December 2015. Register at http://theyaks.melbournebarbecuefestival.com.au/kcbs-barbecue-competition/