Jacqui and I recently had the pleasure of being invited to attend the 3rd Annual British BBQ Battle at Blenheim Palace. Sponsored by RH Hall, kitchen equipment suppliers, the selected chefs were required to cook a three course meal on a Crown Verity BBQ that was powered by Calor LPGenius gas, and at least one of the courses had to include a sauce from Lion Sauces, another sponsor.
It was a gloriously sunny day, perfectly kicked off with a welcome from celebrity chef Ben Bartlett who gave us a little demonstration, finishing off with a barbecue cocktail! Tropical fruit juice, pineapple, apricots, thyme, a generous splash of bourbon and a glass rim dipped in barbecue salt went down very nicely.
The eight competing contestants had all been selected on the basis of submitted menus. Four categories: Golf club and Event Caterers, Pubs, Universities and Hotels had two contestants each and we kicked off with Golf Clubs and Pubs.
First up was Micky Daly and Stewart Jackson from Richins Park Golf Club. Their menu consisted of:
– Chargrilled tuna steak with pawpaw salad.
– Trio of slider burgers – beef burger, veal burger and a Thai pork burger, served in mini brioche buns.
– Drunken pineapple skewers with a smoked sea salt chocolate sauce.
Also competing in the Golf Club and Event Caterers category was Terry Wiggins from the House of Commons. His menu was:
– Grilled British goats cheese with a sundried tomato crust on charred baby beets and a fennel salad with honey and mustard dressing.
– Rump of lamb with a salted caper crust, sweet potato chips, bbq corn, grilled baby gem lettuce and hot sauce followed by
– Grilled Kent peaches on cinnamon donuts with elderflower sorbet and chocolate cherries.
In the Pubs category was Dave Alebon of the Brasshouse in Birmingham. He cooked
– Spicy BBQ chicken wings with hot sauce
– Minted lamb cutlets with a mint crumb and finished with
– Warm apple, ginger and honey crepes.
Versus Carol Haime from Shepherd Neame with her cooking choices of:
– BBQ hot smoked salmon, parsley and chive flatbreads with a beetroot and lemon mayonnaise
– BBQ roast beef sharing roast, extra matured topside marinated in red wine, with honey and mustard root vegetable skewers, BBQ Yorkshire puddings and horseradish creme fraiche
– BBQ bread and butter pudding with caramelised apple skewers and an apple, sultana and ginger sauce.
Sadly although the food was displayed on a table next to us, no one mentioned that this was a tasting table so we only looked 🙁
However lunch was soon served! There was a choice of pulled pork, burgers or sausages, loads of salad and rolls so we sated our BBQ cravings pretty well.
Back for round two, Universities and Hotels.
Matthew Carter from Emmanuel College presented:
– Cromer crab piri-piri on garden salad with ranch dressing.
– Gloucester Old Spot four ways, sticky BBQ ribs, chargrilled pork shoulder, tenderloin and rosemary kebab, pork cheeks with mango chutney and a Cajun tomato dressing (there was also some crispy pigs ear in there too!)
– Baked Cox’s apples with Devon clotted cream
University of Warwick sent along Graham Crump with his menu of:
– King prawns with pickled lemon, coriander and garlic butter.
– Lamb ox-spring kebab which was minced lamb wrapped in ox-spring ham and brushed with Lion hickory BBQ sauce, served on warm flatbread with crunchy pork popcorn.
– Banana, marshmallow and chocolate brioche.
From the Hotel sector, we had Simon Crannage of Swinton Park Hotel with his:
– Hand dived scallops in a honey and mustard dressing with cauliflower and herb risotto.
– 40 day aged beef fillet, on a flat mushroom with garlic and herb dressing, tomato salsa and a pomegranate salad.
– Chilli and rum spiced pineapple on passionfruit couscous with a rum and pineapple caramel sauce.
Against James Jefferies from Tern Hill Hall who prepared:
– BBQ blackened pigeon breast on a bed of salad and drizzled with hot sauce.
– Black and blue fillet tip steak with spring onion, lime, chilli and beansprout salad with BBQ flat bread and finishing with
– BBQ fruit salad with sweet ginger, chilli and coriander salsa and a mascarpone cream.
These we were allowed to taste and so we dived right in! My personal favourites were the steaks, the pigeon breast, the pork four ways – especially the cheeks and ears and the pineapple with passionfruit couscous.
The judges deliberated, cogitated and digested until they were ready to reveal their winners.
- Golf Clubs and Event Caterers – Terry Wiggins
- Pubs – Carol Haime
- Universities – Graham Crump
- Hotels – Simon Crannage
- Overall British BBQ Battle Champion – Graham Crump
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