WHILE every West Australian bloke believes he’s a barbecue pro, this weekend a posse of prize-winning “pitmasters” showed off their skills by the Swan.
Held in Perth for the first time, the Yak Ales BBQ Festival attracted competitive cooks from around Australia and top US chefs.
Teams in the American-style “cook-off” battled for the ultimate prize of a trip Stateside to represent Australia in top-level contests.
The high-steaks competition saw Sydney business director Kurt Hidajat ship his cooking equipment 4000km west, along with 60kg of meat.
“I had to put about 25kg of deep-chilled meat in the plane’s overhead locker,” said the 33-year-old, who sent his brisket through airport security.
“I’d never cooked here before, and I know my supplier over there.”
Mr Hidajat said “low and slow” American style barbecuing was a creative outlet, and its popularity had grown in Australia as it gained more exposure.
Coolbinia’s Sue Meaghan got the BBQ bug on a trip to Texas, and has four meat smokers on her patio after she started competing last year.
She and fellow lawyer Sophia Woodrow represented the Smokin’ Sheilas on Saturday, and said that at last count theirs was WA’s only all-female competitive team.
“It’s ideal for perfectionists because there are so many variables,” said Ms Meaghan, who searched for specific meat and smoking timber before the competition.
“I’ve done spreadsheets for cooking timings, down to every minute,” she said.
Ms Woodrow, of Mt Lawley, said the Perth ‘cue community discussed “beating the eastern states” before the two-day event at Burswood’s Charles Paterson Park.
Some smokers had come from much further than Sydney, including award-winning American restaurant bosses Christina Fitzgerald and Mike Johnson.
The couple – who had already enjoyed a “Quokka selfie” on Rottnest Island – offered a taste of St Louis at their Sugarfire Smokehouse stall, and expected to cook 2300kg of meat during the festival.
Pinjarra’s Danny Turner predicted the low and slow method would become even more popular in Australia due to the smoky flavours and tender meat it produced.
“You can’t get it if you BBQ like we do, what the Yanks call ‘grilling’,” he said.