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Get up close and personal with CountryWoodSmoke

Marcus Bawdon smiles while cooking over a BBQ grill.

Welcome to part two of the Big K Culinary Curiosity series. We’re talking to the many colourful characters within the BBQ scene and bringing the insights straight to you. Experience is an incredible teacher and we have much to learn from these amazing people.

Today we’re having a quick chat with Marcus Bawdon AKA CountrywoodSmoke. The man is a legend within the fire and flame family for sure. Marcus has been one of the key driving forces behind the growth of the UK BBQ community over the last decade, especially in the digital and teaching realms. A published author, magazine editor,

BBQ school founder and more: Marcus continues to push the boundaries of BBQ possibility. We are super pumped to get this little chinwag underway. Let’s do it.

Big K: Some label you as the Godfather of British BBQ, and you are a seasoned vet for sure. How would you say the UK BBQ scene has evolved over the last 10 -15 years?

Marcus: Thank you, that’s very kind, I’ve been around a while for sure, 12 years to be precise. At that time there was a very small BBQ scene in the UK, focussed around BBQ competitions. There was very little on social media, and I saw opportunities to help BBQ to grow. It’s now doing great, so many are getting into BBQ and outdoor cooking in general, it’s one of the positives from the pandemic. It’s always growing and evolving, but it’s incredibly exciting at the moment.

Big K: What is your BBQ philosophy, or philosophy when it comes to cooking food in general?

 

Marcus Bawdon smiles for the camera, leaning over a grill with Big K charcoal in the foreground

 

Marcus: My way is to keep things simple, use good quality ingredients and to have fun.

Big K: What was the best piece of BBQ advice you ever received?

Marcus: A good friend once told me to take my time, there’s a special sort of relaxed focus you get when BBQing.

Big K: What role does digital technology play in the BBQ subculture?

Marcus: It’s really made BBQ grow, not just in the UK but globally. Basically there’s a lot more visibility for everyone. People see others cooking food that they want to cook and eat too. We can follow each other and gain knowledge about new cooking styles and find new inspiration. So digital has really helped. The take off of the American smokehouse BBQ is a great example of digital in action. Ultimately BBQ is a community thing and the global BBQ community has become a real family thanks  to the connective possibilities of social media.

Big K: Do you think people know enough about what’s in their food and food production in general?

Marcus: Some do, some simply aren’t interested, but for many it falls down to budget. A lot of people are struggling financially so the most important part is the cost of the food. The story of the food is a luxury, I always tell people to buy the best they can afford.

Big K: You have just built a new HQ for your BBQ School. Please tell us a little about that. 

Marcus: UK BBQ school started off 5 or 6 years ago with me just teaching a few basic skills to friends, and then friends of friends. When I lost my job as a Geologist in the oil and gas industry, I decided to go full time BBQ teaching. The Farmshop built the BBQ School HQ for me in April, and I moved in for my first class in May. It’s been going so well, hundreds of people have had classes to learn to BBQ better – even in these last few challenging months.

Big K: How easy is it to teach the art of BBQ to others?

Marcus: It’s finding the right balance of education and fun. I find it easy to inspire people to BBQ better, and I love it. I’ve been doing it for years, so I have my little analogies and ways of looking at BBQ that I have picked up along the way. All these things make the classes relatable and fun. The feedback I get from my classes is wonderful and spurs me on.

Marcus Bawdon holds a holds a bottle of scotch in one hand and a glass of scotch in the other with flames rising in the foreground

 

Big K: What person has played a special part in your BBQ evolution?

Marcus: I think the support of my wife Lisa and my family has meant that I’ve been able to really focus on growing my BBQ business, they are my chief tasting team.

Big K: Where do you see the BBQ community in 20 years from now?

Marcus: Lord knows…. I just know that I’ll still be loving cooking outdoors.

Big K: How does cooking BBQ make you feel?

Marcus: It makes me relax, I love zoning out with the food, the fire and a cold beer. If I am relaxed, I am happy!

There you have it folks. The concepts of relaxation and simplicity seem to be coming through strong, so why not incorporate a little chill and fun into your BBQ process. Let things flow and see where you go!