10 May 2019

Countdown to The Big Smoque... We check out the local teams.

| Alex Tricolas

It’s just about BBQ time, and the teams have been flat out getting ready for The Big Smoque AAA BBQ Festival. The weekend promises to be a big one, the competition will be fierce, and there will be some pretty cool stuff happening for two meat and music filled days.

Festival goers will see the latest barbecue technology, study the styles of Australia’s most passionate BBQ cooks, listen to rockabilly, jazz, country & western, rock ‘n’ roll & other great tunes, eat delicious BBQ meats and sip icy cold boutique American tap beers & cocktails. A host of BBQ food vendors from all over Australia will be setting up stalls with a multicultural flavour including Vietnamese, Indian, Greek, American and Argentinian.

The kids will be kept busy making their own hobby horse and building a fantastic ‘BBQ Beast’ with recycled materials, vines, flowers & fruit. A HUGE cowboy boot, live Texas Longhorn cattle and vintage American cars will also be on site.

That said, the real game is the competition: The Australian American Association, popular Canberra restaurant Smoque and the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs are organising the festival while the Australasian Barbecue Alliance is overseeing the competition and training the judges. Starting Saturday afternoon and going all the way through to Sunday, 12 teams will compete in an American style BBQ competition for prize money of $6000. They include four local teams striving to be crowned Canberra’s first BBQ Champions. Here’s what we found out about them:


The team behind Canberra’s power lunches and most upscale dinners are turning to barbecue. QT Canberra’s Executive Chef Nic and sous chefs Joshua, Carlos and Imrahil have banded together as Lucky’s, the fourth Canberra team to enter the Festival. They’re all experienced chefs but this is their first BBQ competition. The Hotel chain arranged a custom built BBQ and smoker for the boys and training has been well underway. We’re told staff and guests are putting up their hands to sample the team’s trial efforts. Late Mail: A BBQ Festival judge was seen tasting brisket at Capitol Bar & Grill on Tuesday night…


You can spot the Pirate Grillers a mile off because they drive the flashiest wheels in town. They run the ‘Grub Cartel’ a food truck that has been running around the National Capital for the last six months. Peter, Toby and Zac from Canberra got interested in American-style BBQ because of the flavours, traditions and culture of low and slow. When they heard about the Festival they made a snap decision to enter. The fourth team member is Darren – Zac’s Dad. He’s got plenty of BBQ experience which he is using to get the team ready. It’s interesting how many chefs migrate to American-style BBQ. Peter and Toby trained as chefs specialising in Aussie pub food, classic American cooking and fun dishes customers can afford.


Local team the Master Basters are in training for the Festival. And we mean serious training. They won third place for their pulled pork Boston butt in February 2015 at the KCBS-sanctioned BBQ competition in Melbourne. They learned a lot from that first competition and declare they’re better prepared for the hometown Festival. Claire, Spero, Chris and Greg describe themselves as ‘serious foodies and perfectionists’ and they are getting ready by tweaking their style with intriguing Asian, Greek and classic Central Texas and Tennessee flavours. Claire’s spirit of adventure goes beyond BBQ. She recently drove from London to Mongolia and para-motored across the USA.


Training 72 hours straight five weeks out from the festival means you’re hard core and out to win. Last weekend couples Steve and Amanda and Sarah and Michael spent Friday night to Monday morning fine-tuning their skills over a menu of ribs, brisket and lamb. Team Lowe and Slowe are from Canberra and though this is their first comp they are coming off 10 years BBQ experience. They started with American-style because it was different and looked fun. And so far their Weber smokers and kettles have been kept busy in the National Capital.

The BIG SMOQUE AAA BBQ FESTIVAL is a ticketed event.
You can buy tickets at the door, but to avoid disappointment,
we suggest grabbing them online.

Team profiles supplied by Bob Crawshaw

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