Licensed to grill: Perth BBQ Festival hits town this weekend

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Crown Perth is set to host barbecue royalty from around the world as Yak Ales BBQ Festival hits Western Australia for the first time.

The event was previously held in Melbourne, but from Saturday morning Burswood Parklands will be the site of a carnivorous carnival, with live music and cooking demonstrations from some of Perth and America’s “finest pitmasters”.

The two days will also see product exhibitors showcase the latest local and international equipment, and a grand-sounding cook-off sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). I’m told this is “the world’s largest organisation of barbecue enthusiasts”, so they’ll presumably know what to look for.

Personally, I’m keen to check out Memphis Barbecue Co. I don’t know what “world championship” whole hog and pork ribs taste like, but I intend to find out. Indeed, I quite fancy a taste test between Memphis and fellow award-winners Sugarfire Smoke House, who will be bringing southern barbecue all the way from St Louis, Missouri.

You should always support your local team though, so I’ll make sure to drop by Leeman’s decorated Gryphon Smoke House, Rockingham’s Smokies Southern BBQ, and Crown Perth’s The Merrywell. El Asador will represent Argentina (via Perth CBD) and Southside Smokers will bolster the Aussie contingent. I’m interested to see if the various outfits take radically different approaches to their craft, or whether they’re mainly focused on protecting arcane recipes for rubs and marinades.

The Festival is also set to draw competitive barbecue squads from around the country, including Eureka Smoke, 2017 winners of the Yak Ales Melbourne Barbecue Festival. They’re going to contest an “American-style” cook-off (lots of whooping, perhaps?) in WA’s first KCBS-approved battle.

The competition will task teams with cooking chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket in the “American low and slow style”, judged on KCBS guidelines that include “taste, tenderness and appearance.” And don’t lie – you’re now wondering how you can get that a spot on that judging panel.

The Grand Champion will have the chance to represent Australia in world-level contests in the States. Want to risk it with your brisket, or just find out more details about the weekend? Head to www.bbqfest.com.au.

Serious meatheads may also want to check out a four-hour “Pitmasters Barbecue Class” at The Merrywell on Friday, where multi-award winning pitmaster Jim Johnson will provide sage advice based on his 28-year career.

The Yak Ales Perth Barbecue Festival begins at Burswood Parklands, 10am Saturday April 8, and finishes 7pm Sunday April 9. For exact timings and more details visit the Festival website.

All images courtesy of Hatching Communications.

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Having moved to Perth from the UK, I’m getting to know the city by working my way through its cafes, bars and restaurants. I’m not sure if I have a favourite cuisine (all of them?) but I am enjoying Perth’s East-Asian options, along with the many opportunities for beer and ice cream.

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