“I love to mix it up and push the limits of what is traditionally thought of as grilled food,” says Spencer Watts.
Watts, whose barbecue show, Watts on The Grill, will be part of BBQ Month, SBS Food Channel 33’s celebration of all things barbecue in October, isn’t the only one who likes to experiment. Also coming to you in BBQ Month is a cooking show contestant who describes himself as a “human womble” (a reference to the barbecues he builds from things others cast aside); one of the few female 'pitmasters' on the American barbecue competition scene; a dive into barbecue traditions from around the world; and recipes for everything from pulled jackfruit to barbecue desserts.
Here’s a preview of the grill kings and queens who’ll be firing things up in BBQ Month in October.
“Life is too short for bad BBQ,” is the favourite catch-phrase of Danielle Bennett, aka Diva Q, the host of BBQ Crawl. If you love American barbecue – falling-apart slow-cooked briskets, burnt ends, pit beans, pork, chicken, ribs and more – then this is your show. BBQ Crawl follows Diva Q as she travels the US barbecue competition circuit, eating at hallowed BBQ joints along the way and then lining up to compete against the best.
Bennett, who was in Australia earlier this year, has been doing barbecue for more than a decade, and says she’s still learning.
“I started barbecuing in 2006. I judged a barbecue contest and I really fell in love with it. And then I thought I could do it. I then travelled all over North America, mostly within the United States - Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and many more states - to learn about barbecue. I was lucky enough to meet some of the most legendary families of barbecue and they took me under their wings taught me many things and really gave me one of the best educations ever,” she tells SBS Food.
“I never stop learning about barbecue. There will never be a point where I learn enough … because it’s constantly evolving, there is always a pitmaster out there doing something different … There is no one right way to make barbecue and that’s what makes it amazing.”
And what did she think of Aussie barbecue?
“I have been friends with many Australian pitmasters for quite a few years now. I am impressed with their passion, their dedication and their overall knowledge. I enjoy watching the diversity of grill techniques and the thirst for all things American barbecue.”
Her passion for cooking goes beyond meat though - she's well known for her Death by Diva dessert, a wicked concoction that includes brownies cooked on the grill. You'll see her serve it up in competition in BBQ Crawl, and the recipe will be coming your way here on SBS Food during BBQ Month!
Watch seasons 1-3 of BBQ Crawl on SBS Food, double episodes from 5.30pm, Mon-Fri October 7 to 25, then 8.30pm Monday and Wed from October 28.
It’s a hot competition of a different kind on this show. Eight keen amateur barbeque-ers are lining up to be crowned BBQ Champ, facing two cooking challenges each week.
The contestants are a varied bunch, including youth worker Solomon, who runs a soup kitchen for disadvantaged people; photographer and father of five Tony who says he “loves to BBQ for anyone who’ll eat my food”; Kuldip, co-owner of a chilli sauce business, who not surprisingly adds some heat to his dishes; and Emma, who loves barbecuing so much, she has 13 barbecues at home.
There’s also Simon, who also has numerous barbecues at home, most of them ones he has built himself: “I try and use things that other people throw away. I’m kind of a human womble,” he says.
Supporting them in their quest – and deciding who stays and who goes each week – are leading UK chef Mark Blatchford, US TV star and author Adam Richman, and show host Myleene Klass.
Over five weeks, the eight contestants take on some very different challenges: a kitchen challenge, where they race the clock (everything from kebabs to desserts), and a different location challenge every week (from farm to beach to street food).
Watch BBQ Champs Monday and Wednesdays at 7.30 pm from Mon 7 Oct.
Watts on the Grill
“I have always had a fascination with food and fire! I think my love of grilling comes from my dad. When I was a kid we used to camp a lot and my dad would cook over the fire. Everything always tasted so great. And at my house - when you light the grill, the music kicks up and friends and family suddenly appear - it’s just a great time whenever we BBQ. Good food and fun - that is basically my motto in life!” says Spencer Watts, when SBS Food chats to him about all things barbecue.
“Grilling gives everything such great flavour - meats, fish, veg - even desserts. I love to mix it up and push the limits of what is traditionally thought of as grilled food. This summer I have been doing a lot of low temp, long cooks and smoking. There is no better way to cook brisket. Throw a few smoke pouches on the grill with a rubbed brisket, add some patience and this super tough and affordable cut of beef pulls apart into hunks of crazy outrageous flavour.”
Watts is based in Vancouver, Canada, so for him, it’s been peak barbecue season recently.
“I spent my summer making more episodes of Watts on the Grill and my other series Spencer’s Big 30! So, I cooked and ate and cooked and ate some more! I also JUST launched my new website and my YouTube channel which has been a blast. It was a very busy summer!
“Now that Canada is heading into winter, maybe I should come to Australia and make a show down under to avoid having to grill while standing in the snow!”
In season 1 of Watts on the Grill, which kicks off on SBS Food on October 23, Watts explores the very wide range of things that can be cooked on the barbecue, from ribs to pulled jackfruit to pizza. Look out for his recipes coming your way during BBQ Month, including those fiery wings pictured above (but don't worry - if heat isn't your thing, there's plenty for you too.)
Watch double episodes of Watts on the Grill 7.30pm, Mondays and Wednesdays 23 October to 30 October, then 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays 9 November to 17 November.
Darren Robertson’s Charcoal Kitchen
Take a look at chef Darren Robertson’s Instagram account and you’ll quickly get a feel for his passion for cooking over coals and flames.
The chef, and co-owner of several restaurants in Sydney and Byron Bay, shares plenty of his barbecue secrets in Charcoal Kitchen, which sees him on the road around New South Wales and Victoria, catching up with friends and fellow chefs and cooking everything from a festive feast to Japanese-style tabletop tepanyaki.
“A few years ago, I started thinking about making a shift towards more sustainable cooking: seasonal, local, and fresh. A holistic approach that embraced great ingredients, cooked simply, and beautifully,” he says in the show. “I’ve become fascinated with cooking over a simple fire, or hot coals. No fancy equipment, no induction stoves, immersion circulators; just fresh ingredients, fire, and imagination.”
Watch double episodes of Darren Robertson’s Charcoal Kitchen 5.30 pm From Monday 28 October to Friday 1 November.
Plus a grill-full of fantastic recipes…
To celebrate BBQ Month, SBS Food will also be bringing you all the recipes you need to keep you grilling right through spring and summer. Stand by for new recipes coming to the site for everything from haloumi burgers to falling-apart-tender brisket, seafood, sauces, desserts from the grill, sides and more. Whether you love low and slow US-style BBQ, or you're looking for vegan and vegetarian grill ideas, we've got it all coming your way, with inspiration from around the globe.
Here’s a preview of what's coming in October - a recipe for finger-licking grilled pork ribs with Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Get your serve of everything barbecue with SBS Food Channel 33’s BBQ Month 2019, kicking off on Monday 7 October. Check the TV program guide for full details; shows will also be available on SBS On Demand after they air.
Slow roasted for 2.5 hours then basted and barbecued, sticky and tender ribs take time, but pay dividends - big time. Having made a big splash on the Aussie food scene, peri peri seasoning is even better when homemade. In the summertime, when the Frenchman and I (sporadically) have access to a barbecue, we often barbecue pizza. It’s especially good for feeding a crowd: it’s pleasing to every palate, can be adjusted for special diets, involves just the right amount of group participation, and makes a great breakfast the next morning. All the ingredients (dough and toppings) are prepared ahead of time, which makes it easy to pull off outdoors, or in a kitchen not your own. I love the charred flavours of barbecued octopus, with this smooth tahini sauce on top. The tahini sauce is also beautiful with barbecued squid or cuttlefish, or a fillet of barbecued fish.
Slow roasted for 2.5 hours then basted and barbecued, sticky and tender ribs take time, but pay dividends - big time.
Having made a big splash on the Aussie food scene, peri peri seasoning is even better when homemade.
In the summertime, when the Frenchman and I (sporadically) have access to a barbecue, we often barbecue pizza. It’s especially good for feeding a crowd: it’s pleasing to every palate, can be adjusted for special diets, involves just the right amount of group participation, and makes a great breakfast the next morning. All the ingredients (dough and toppings) are prepared ahead of time, which makes it easy to pull off outdoors, or in a kitchen not your own.
I love the charred flavours of barbecued octopus, with this smooth tahini sauce on top. The tahini sauce is also beautiful with barbecued squid or cuttlefish, or a fillet of barbecued fish.