National BBQ Week raises funds for key workers

Families and friends can start to meet up outside under lockdown easing measures.

Families and friends can start to meet up outside under lockdown easing measures. - Credit: Archant

This year’s National BBQ Week shows solidarity with key workers and frontline staff.

Celebrate National BBQ Week at home from 25-31 May 2020 Pictures: National BBQ Week

Celebrate National BBQ Week at home from 25-31 May 2020 Pictures: National BBQ Week - Credit: Archant

The 24th annual National BBQ Week runs from 25-31 May 2020 – though this year’s celebrations are set to be a little different.

Brian George describes himself as the “poor sod” that created National BBQ Week back in 1997. Known as the Grill Master, Brian is famous for his virtuoso cooking, especially his BBQ pavlova, and is the former president of the National BBQ Association and marketing director of the World BBQ Association.

“National BBQ Week was originally created to educate people and teach people the art of better BBQ. Back in the dark days of 1997, a BBQ was just a tin tray on legs cooking burnt sausage in a bap covered in ketchup.”

But things have changed since. With the development of more sophisticated smokers, burners and multi-gas grills, BBQ became a culinary artform as it evolved into “gastro grilling”, yet it has still retained its cultural traditions.

“BBQ is an incredibly social and fun thing to do. If you’re invited round someone’s house for a BBQ, you normally find everyone standing around the grill talking and having fun. Unfortunately, we can’t do that right now.”

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National BBQ Week normally features experiential BBQ roadshows touring the country attending foodie festivals and county shows. Due to the lockdown, the format and execution of National BBQ Week will be somewhat different this year.

Kicking off on Bank Holiday Monday, Barbi for Britain is a charitable initiative encouraging the nation to virtually come together online to share their BBQ experiences, while raising money for the NHS, frontline workers and supermarket staff.

“There are a lot of heroic actions going on. We felt that we had to do something. We wanted to try to use BBQ as a way of bringing the nation together to support and salute the NHS, frontline workers and, of course, the unsung heroes: supermarket staff. Without them, none of us would be fed.

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“The idea is to say a big thank you by videoing your BBQ and sharing it on one of our social media platforms while donating to the NHS, GroceryAid and Covid-19 appeals. We want to bring some joy, have some fun, do some good.”

And if this is your first time in the hotseat, Brian has some advice for novices or “barbi babes”, as he calls them.

“Don’t set fire to yourself – that’s a good start. A BBQ is simply an oven, as long as you maintain the temperature control, that’s all it comes down to.

“The National BBQ Week website includes lots of tips, recipes and a section for beginner BBQers. We’re also launching a ‘Barbies in Lockdown Guide’ with information on what to do and what not to do in lockdown when you’re having a BBQ.”

And how will Brian be using his skills to celebrate National BBQ Week 2020?

“I’m considering doing a turbot. It’s quite an expensive fish that was very popular in the 80s and 90s before falling out of favour. Or I will go for my signature dish: the best ever burger. It involves halloumi, blue cheese, pancetta, avocado, onions, peppers and chillies and a brioche bun.”

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