Richard Holden BBQ is on a mission to bring brilliant barbecuing skills to more people across the UK. He travels the country leading live product demonstrations, hosting bespoke hands-on masterclasses and catering for private events, with the aim of educating and inspiring others to get creative with food and give barbecuing a go themselves.
1. What got you into BBQ’ing?
I had my eyes opened to home barbecue when I first had roasted meats and vegetables cooked outside. It was around 2004, I’d just moved to Canada and with the stonking hot summers they get out there my sister was buying all the barbecue cookbooks she could get her hands on and fast became a BBQ Ninja!!
I started to take barbecuing seriously in 2012 when I took a job working for Weber as an in-house chef. I began travelling the UK and Ireland with their amazing Land Rover and Airstream exhibition unit hosting mini masterclasses at retailer locations and big food shows such as CarFest, Grillstock and Jamie Oliver’s BigFeastival. I loved how people gather around the barbecue and along with creating great food together the barbecue inspires newly treasured memories and life moments!
2. How many BBQ’s do you have at home and what is your favourite method of cooking?
HAHA At last count I had 15 barbecues of various descriptions. These are working grills and go on the road with me to the events I host. There are charcoal, gas and pellet barbecues as well as dedicated smokers and portable styles in there too.
My favourite method for cooking has to be roasting as it opens up the endless possibilities of what you can cook on your barbecue. Roasting also allows the barbecue to take the strain while you have time on your hands to do other things be it things around the house or actually catching-up with the people you invite to your home.
3. What is your favourite piece of BBQ equipment? This can be a BBQ or an accessory and we want to know why.
In the same way as The Complete Work of Shakespeare and A Religious Book are automatically given in Desert Island Discs I’m going to assume we already have a chimney starter, a good toolset, IO Shen knives and a Thermapen!!
This being the case I would have to say my cast iron Dutch oven is something I could not be without. One of the best things about cooking on a barbecue is that for grilling and roasting you don’t really need anything to put the food on like you would in the kitchen as food goes straight on the cooking grate. This is fantastic when it comes to washing up, but there are times in the year where I want to be able to cook something outside the norm. Chilli con carne on bonfire night or moules mariniere with crusty bread and a glass of white on a warm summer evening are just 2 dishes that instantly spring to mind. The Dutch oven is in my Top 10 pieces of barbecue kit for sure!
4. What was the best BBQ food you have ever eaten?
I’ve been lucky enough to judge twice at the Jack Daniel’s International BBQ Championships so it goes without saying I’ve eaten some of the best barbecue food in the world.
The other worthy mention though has to be the first time I ever ate low ‘n’ slow brisket! It was July 1997, I was visiting Canada with my parents for the first time and we were at the Calgary Stampede (google it!). As we walked around the park grounds I caught the very distinctive aroma I’d later come to know as hickory wood smoke. This was a taste revalation and if I ever think of hickory smoked brisket now I’m straight back at the Stampede that summer; Fantastic!
5. Tell us about your worst BBQ disaster?
Easy! Grillstock Bristol 2014. I was heading up the weekends 30-minute demos in the Weber marquee and someone asked me a thought provoking question that got me off topic! My school reports always said “easily distracted” so I went in feet first and forgot what I was supposed to be doing. What I was actually cooking was a Tarte Tatin, which had had the puff pastry lid put on and was on the barbecue to bake off. Mid conversation someone asked if the barbecue behind me was supposed to be smoking. I said it wasn’t possible as I was just “baking” but true enough when I turned around I saw heavy black smoke coming from the grill. I’d baked it too far long and not only had the pastry “over-baked” but the caramel in the bottom of the dish had burnt to smithereens.
I don’t believe in hiding your mistakes as they can show that if you take your eye off the ball, as had happened in this case, anyone can burn something! I wanted to post a picture of the charred remains but was told by someone higher than me that the photo should go nowhere near the internet, which means you now have an exclusive!! 😉
6. Name a dish you have never cooked but would love to try?
I’m dying to get my own house to be able to have space for an Asado and cook a butterflied lamb or side of beef on it! I’ve seen it done at events like Meatopia and spoken with people about it but haven’t had the opportunity or space to do it for myself yet.
7. Who is the person you would most like to cook with?
Australian cook and food write Donna Hay. There have been so many influences for me from Australia in the last year and Donna is just one of the people I’ve discovered along the way. Her food and knowledge are vast and to cook with her while discovering Aussie cuisine would be something pretty cool!
8. What is your favourite song to cook to?
I have music playing most of the day so this is tough but “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas will always remind me of a sailing trip I took around the Whitsunday Islands in 2010. In my mind it’s tropical blue waters, hot sunny days and barbecues off the back of the boat whenever I hear this song!
9. Best toppings for a BBQ burger?
I like to keep it classic with cheese, grilled streaky bacon, tomato and sliced avocado.
10. What’s your favourite non-BBQ food guilty pleasure?
I scream, You scream, We all scream for Ice Cream! I love it in all its’ glorious forms and over the summer months you may find the odd Magnum wrapper in the drivers’ door pocket of my van…….. lol
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