UK BBQ Mag Spring 2017 - Page 84

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How we got started...

As with most families the summer weekends consisted of BBQs at home with the usual blackened burgers and sausages with my dad in control of the Tongs.

As I got older I took over and once i learnt to drive I got involved with a local Mini Owners Club where I used to help with events and group meet ups. The summer events had BBQs involved we would cook on and old drum mounted on a trailer. Cooking for that amount of people gave me a bit of a buzz and once I had left home and had my own place I looked into a more substantial BBQ to cook on

Over the following couple of years I bought 2 Brinkmann Smoke'n'Pit offset smokers but die to lack of knowledge I mainly filled them with charcoal and used them for grilling.

Eventually I searched the internet for more to cook on them and found put about smoking...

One of the first people I spoke to about the whole Low'n'Slow BBQ side of things was Andy Williams who mentioned Grillstock. That is where the love for Competition BBQ started.

How we got involved in actually competing...

I got together with Sarah in 2011 and asked her around for a BBQ. She wasn't prepared for a full pork shoulder when I opened the BBQ and that got us talking about Andy and Grillstock so in 2012 we decided that we would visit Bristol to see what it was all about.

Unfortunately Sarah was heading off on a Hen Weekend abroad but I went to Grillstock on the Saturday not knowing anyone there, or what to expect.

Andy got me in and introduced me to Buttrub creator Byron Chism and his team mate for that weekend Philip Newton.

With Sarah getting to join in on the Sunday we met a HUGE amount of great people that weekend and our friendship with Phil grew so in 2013 Sarah and I joined Phil in his BBQ Team, Racks of Ruin.

2013 saw us compete in Grillstock Bristol, an IBQN event at Speedfest at Brands Hatch and also the KCBS event at Q on the Canal.

2014 was a Grillstock double with us joining Phil again at Bristol and Manchester.

2015 saw Riviera BBQ come out on its own with Sarah and I starting out Competition BBQ circuit at Grillstock in Manchester, and with beginners luck we got our first call with a 2nd in Chicken. We were extremely happy with tjat too.

Bristol was our only other Competition that year, and 2016 we did GS Bristol and another more local competition, Pengrillie.

This was to be an awesome competition!

Competing at Pengrillie...

Pengrillie was a totally different type of competion, a lot more relaxed than other and being its first was a fairly small affair. The atmophere was great and everyone having an amazing time.

We stuck with what we knew from the other competitions but with various restaurant chefs involved we didnt have a clue how it would be judged and where we would come.

When the individual results were announced we were fairly high in all categories but came first in Chicken, that was a fantastic feeling, only to be topped by us actually becoming Grand Champions soon after! What a Buzz!!!

It was a brilliant weekend and we ended on a massive high.

the best and worst bits of comp bbq...

Apart from the winning at Pengrillie and the 2nd place call at Grillstock other 'best bits' of BBQ Competitions are the atmosphere and the people. We have gained some truely wonderful friends through being on the competition circuit and you will often hear teams talk about the BBQ Family. It really is.

Yes there are 'worse' bits like the very late nights and some extremely early mornings, lack of sleep and hopefully getting your turn in box completed in time but really the 'best' parts make it all worth while.

To be totally honest with you Sarah and I have never really thought that we could win any competition. Some teams out there really put so much practice in and compete in a huge amount of contests, there is no way we could even contemplate doing any wjere near as many.

Spare time and of course the money are always an issue in our busy lives too.

How has your cooking changed, equipment wise?

I started with the two offset smokers but after that first Grillstock we decided to look for something 'bullet' style as that seemed the weapon of choice for most teams.

Facebook groups and the vast knowledge of their members werent really about so it was down to google, youtube and various reviews.

Eventually after much investigation and reading up we decided that the ProQ Excel was the one for us, little did we know at the time that searching for one of these smokers would result in a great friendship with Ian and Ty at Macs BBQ who since then have been great in supporting

Hello, we are Glenn and Sarah Bowden, Riviera BBQ.

Glenn... My day job is a refrigeration engineer which brings on a lot of weekend work that interferes with the BBQ time.

Sarah works for Royal Mail but definitely pulls her weight when it comes to food prep etc at home and on the Competition circuit.