Tag: Outside Cooking

Over the weekend of September 16th & 17th I got to cook with the most amazing backdrops and local produce on the Isles of Scilly for the 2023 Taste of Scilly Festival.

On Saturday I had my toes in the sand on Porthmellon Beach, cooking smoked Moroccan beef and spiced chicken thighs served with flat breads, pickled cabbage, garlic mayo, romseco and za’tar. Then on Sunday we set up the Drumbecues on the slipway at The Mermaid Inn on the harbourside in Hugh Town where I cooked Lebanon style lamb leg with anchovy dressing, and pulled pork with smoked paprika (served again on flatbreads with pickled cabbage, garlic mayo, romseco and za’tar).

It was an incredible weekend and amazing getting to spend some time on these beautiful islands just 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. Thanks so much to Visit Isles of Scilly, Victoria Bond and Anna Mahoney for inviting me over to be a part of Taste of Scilly.

Cast iron cookware is a fantastic addition to your kitchen cabinet, particularly if you regularly cook outside and barbecue over the summer months. Cast iron pots and pans (often called skillets in the States) are heavy, and they hold and distribute heat really well. They also last FOREVER with the right care and upkeep. Compared to a set of cheap pans that may have hotspots or warp with heat so that they wobble on your hob, cast iron is solid, dependable, and super versatile.

Whether you bought a pre-seasoned cast iron pan from a shop or online, or found a vintage gem at a car boot sale, it will need seasoning every now and then and there are a few golden rules.

Cleaning A Cast Iron Pan

After use, clean your cast iron in hot water with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth, using a wooden spatula to scrape off any stuck-on bits. You can use a small amount of washing up liquid although many people advise against this as it can remove the seasoning on the cooking surface. If food is really stuck on then you can use coarse rock salt as an abrasive to help remove it. Dry the pan thoroughly with a dry tea towel, and you can even put it back on the heat or in a warm oven to dry completely. It’s really important that you pan is absolutely dry before you store it away, so that there is no moisture left on it that might trigger rust. Whatever you do, do not put your cast iron in the dishwasher or leave it in a bowl of water. Once dry, add a teaspoon of neutral cooking oil, such as rapeseed oil, and wipe around and all over using a piece of kitchen paper.

Restoring A Cast Iron Pan

restoring a rusty cast iron dutch oven lid

Just like tools, they don’t make them like they used to. Or, when they do, they’re expensive. If you manage to get your hands on some old cast iron cookware from a car boot sale or the like, or if perhaps you left your Dutch oven with all of your camping stuff in the shed or garage over the winter, then nit might need a bit of restoration.
Remove any surface rust using an abrasive sponge or a wire scourer in hot or hot and soapy water. This will almost certainly affect or remove the layers of seasoning that have built up on the surface, so once free-from-rust, clean and thoroughly dry, you will need to re-season it.

Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

seasoning a cast iron skillet

The seasoning on cast iron cookware is simply layers of polymerized cooking oil, which means that the oil has been heated to the point where it naturally hardens and creates a blackened, almost non-stick coating. To re-season a pan, you are simply rebuilding these layers of hardened oil. I’d suggest using rapeseed oil, although you can use other neutral cooking oils with high-smoke points (don’t use olive oil). You can either add some oil to you pan and heat it on the hob until it begins to smoke, then turn off the heat and allow to cool before discarding any excess oil and carefully using a clean cloth or piece of kitchen paper to wipe the warm oil around the pan, or you can wipe oil all over your pan and then put it in your oven upside down. Heat your oven to 220, with your extractor hood turned on or a window open in case it creates any smoke. Leave for up to an hour and then turn off and allow to cool thoroughly before removing from the oven. We use our large outdoor pizza oven for this job! Repeating this step (hob or oven) several times will build up layers of seasoning (it should end up looking shiny, like it’s been varnished) and increase the non-stick-ness of your pan.
If you frequently cook fatty food in your pan, such as bacon or steaks, then this will continue to add to the seasoning.
You ought to do this re-seasoning process a couple of times each year, if you’re cooking with your cast iron regularly. Perhaps that means at the end of the summer after a season of barbecues and campfire cooking, and then again in late spring when you take it out of storage before a summer of use, if you primarily use them for outdoor cooking. However, I’d encourage you to use it throughout the year in your kitchen, as they’re such good bits of kit.

Some Tips For Cooking With Cast Iron Pans

Always pre-heat a cast iron pan before cooking with it – if you try to cook from cold your food will likely stick to it, regardless of how much you’ve built up the seasoning! Because they’re solid and heavy, it’s best to preheat for longer and on a slightly lower heat than with other types of pots and pans.
Only occasionally cook acidic foods, such as tomato sauces, citrus fruits and the like in your cast iron pan, because the acids can reduce the seasoning.
“Respect the first touch” as live-fire chef Francis Mallmann famously said – that means put your food in a hot pan and leave it – don’t be tempted to move it around too soon, or too much!
Clean your cookware as soon as possible after use, and dry it thoroughly – I can’t emphasise that enough!

a collection of new and old cast iron cookware

Cooking with cast iron pots and pans may seem like a lot of effort, when you could just use any old cookware. But believe me, it is worth it – for minimal effort (you wash your pans anyway, right?!) you get a great cooking experience and a pan that can cook most things, on the stove top or in the oven, or both for the same dish. If you see an old pan for sale on your travels, pick it up, clean it up, re-season it and enjoy many years of good cooking with it.

If there’s one thing that unites us in the UK, it’s a love for drizzling or dolloping sauces over and alongside our meals. In fact, a poll commissioned by Waitrose last summer found that over a third of us have 5-6 jars or bottles of different condiments in their fridge.

a handful of scotch bonnet chillies

As we hit peak summer, lots of us are also trying to find ways to utilise the crops from our veg patches and greenhouses. Last year a friend and I developed a recipe for an absolutely banging smoked chilli sauce that you can buy bottles of from the cookery school or Cove Café. We’re talking Cornish chillis that have been fermented for a fortnight, local apple cider vinegar, confit garlic, and smoking peppers, onions and tomatoes over cherry and oak wood. We went deep on this one!

harvesting chillies in a greenhouse

If you can’t get your hands on a bottle before it all sells out, and if you’ve been growing chillies at home this year like our friend Matt (pictured), then I’ve got a simpler recipe for you to try so that you can put the fruits of your greenhouse or windowsill to good use and cook up a batch of this smokey chilli sauce. It’s incredible poured over…. absolutely everything.

bottles of chilli sauce at philleigh way cookery school


Sterilising your jars or bottles
Wash your jars and lids in warm soapy water and leave to dry on a draining rack – don’t touch the insides! You can dry the lids with a clean, dry, tea towel.
Place the jars and lids in a preheated oven at 180c/160c fan/gas 4 for fifteen minutes.
Remove, allow to cool, and use!

See here for how to make a biscuit tin smoker to put on your barbecue.


500g Chillis (a couple of handfuls, or about 20 chillis, but go steady if you grew Scotch Bonnets like Matt)
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 vine of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (grated)
300g castor sugar
250ml apple cider vinegar
1 – 1.5l water (you can use half and half cloudy apple juice if you like)
1 bay leaf
Rosemary – sprig
Thyme – small bunch

charring red peppers on a barbecue


Whether you have a biscuit tin smoker that you can pop on your barbecue (see here for how to make one yourself) an offset smoker, or are keeping it as simple as a barbecue with a lid, smoke the chillis and garlic for an hour or two. If you have any fruit wood or shavings (apple or cherry) that’d be ideal. Whilst your barbecue is lit, char the peppers, onions and tomatoes.
Remove the skin from the charred veg, and roughly chop with the smoked chillis. Put it all into a large pot or casserole, add the rest of the ingredients going easy on the water or diluted apple juice (start with a litre and add more later if required) and bring up to the boil.
Simmer for an hour over a low heat. Season and taste to check – you can adjust the water, vinegar and sugar to get the balance you’re after.
Blend it with a stick-blender or in batches in a food processor – you can keep it fairly rough or blitz it for a while and then push it through a sieve with the back of a spoon if you want a super smooth sauce. It’s up to you!
Check the seasoning and balance one last time, allow to cool, then decant into your sterilised jars or bottles.Store in a cool cupboard for up to a couple of months, and once opened keep it in the fridge and use it with a week or two. Which won’t be hard.

philleigh way chilli sauce splashed over a marble work top

On Friday November 4th, the evening before Bonfire Night, we lit fires of our own at Knightor Winery to cook a Bonfire Feast. It was a fantastic evening and it felt like a great way to welcome winter – outside, around fires, with warming glasses of smokey mulled wine before retiring into the Winery barn to sit at long tables and share plates of seasonal food.

smokey mulled wine at an event at knightor winery

Here’s a gallery of some photos from the night, and for those of you who missed and it want to torture yourself, the menu that we served. If you’re interested in hosting a similar event this winter and you’d like to have us entertain and cook for your guests, or if you like the idea of your staff Christmas party looking like this, then drop us a line to discuss what we can do for you.

chef rupert cooper of philleigh way cookery school cooking a bonfire night feast over fire at knightor winery


Smokey mulled wine
Autumnal canapés
Smoked pork shoulder, woodfired apples dauphinoise served with Knightor gravy and pangrattato
Stuffed squash cooked over coals with pearl barley and cavalo nero salsa verde (vegan)
Knightor Vermouth polenta cake with smokey plum syrup and nut brittle with vanilla crème fraîche

chef rupert cooper of philleigh way cookery school cooking a bonfire night feast over fire at knightor winery
canapes on bonfire night
chef rupert cooper cooking apples over fire at a bonfire night feast at knightor winery
fireside wine at knightor winery
chef rupert cooper of philleigh way cookery school cooking a bonfire night feast over fire at knightor winery
chef rupert cooper and the philleigh way events team plating up dishes in the kitchen
diners sat at long tables at knightor winery for the bonfire feast night with Philleigh Way
bonfire feast night menu at knightor winery
guests serving themselves from sharing plates at the philleigh way bonfire feast night at knightor winery
guests serving themselves from sharing plates at the philleigh way bonfire feast night at knightor winery
long tables and sharing plates at knightor winery bonfire feast night with philleigh way
wine bottle and dessert at the philleigh way feast night at knightor winery

Get in touch (contact details in the footer of this web page) if you’d like to speak to us about cooking at your event, or to find out when and where we’re cooking next, sign-up to our fortnightly newsletter by clicking here.

Lobster is considered something of a luxury these days, but that shouldn’t stop you from treating yourself every now and then. A few weeks ago we paid a visit to the National Lobster Hatchery at Padstow, to learn about how they’re working to conserve and restore populations of wild lobsters in our coastal waters – the benefit for the rest of us being that there should then continue to be enough lobster to allow some to be caught, cooked, and consumed.

chef rupert copper of philleigh way cookery school making lobster rolls outside overlooking the sea at padstow

Lobster rolls are a classic summer dish from the North East of America – the coastal states on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean from us, and it’s a great way to enjoy this delicacy. I prepared two different lobster roll recipes overlooking Padstow and the Camel Estuary on a small Pro-Q barbecue, using a lobster from a local fish merchant that was pre-cooked. If you buy live lobster, it’s important to kill them humanely before cooking, and our friends over at Cornwall Good Seafood Guide have published a really good how-to article here.

chef rupert cooper of philleigh way cookery school barbcuing lobster overlooking the sea

These rolls can be served hot or cold, but must always be served outside in the sunshine, preferably with a sea view.

barbecuing lobster


If you’ve picked up a pre-cooked lobster from your fishmonger then follow Cornwall Good Seafood Guide’s instructions on how to humanely kill your lobster. Boil your lobster for six minutes, then remove from the pan and allow to cool. When you’re ready to make your lobster rolls you can then split the body and tail down the centre line with a sharp knife and grill shell-side-down on the barbecue, and crack the claws to remove the meat which you can then pan-fry in a good amount of butter. I also added some nduja to the tail meat (completely optional) as it warmed, for some of that unbeatable spiced pork and seafood flavour.

chef rupert cooper making tartar sauce for lobster rolls


  • Good mayonnaise
  • Gherkins
  • Dill
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon – juice and zest


Finely chop the gherkins and herbs. Then combine all ingredients together, season and serve.

chef rupert cooper making cucumber salsa


  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tsps red wine vinegar


Finely dice all the ingredients, mix in a bowl with vinegar. Season and serve.

loading up a lobster roll


Take your roll – I used potato rolls, but a popular choice is a good hot-dog style bun – butter it and toast it on the grill. Then simply load it up with your lobster and either a decent helping of tartar sauce or cucumber salsa, and get stuck in!

chef rupert cooper holding up a lobster roll

This is an amazing dessert to try next time you are barbecuing or cooking outside. It’s got everything going on and tastes like sunshine – charred and caramelised pineapple, with flavours of coconut and mint, and the crunch of nuts. One pineapple will serve eight people, and other than cooking the pineapple over the coals the rest of it is an assembly task. If you’re cooking this as part of a bigger barbecue meal and there’s meat involved, cook the pineapple first or on a separate grill rack.

barbucued pineapple dessert


1 pineapple
Brown sugar
1 large tub of Greek style yoghurt
1 handful desiccated coconut
Half a handful of mint
Small bag of mixed nuts and raisins

Knob of butter
Splash of rum
8 small meringue nests

cooking pineapple on a barbecue grill


Cut the top and the skin off the pineapple, and split into eight lengthways (quarter it and then cut each segment in half again). Cut out the central core part of each slice, and place on the grill over the hot coals to cook. Allow the pineapple to char, before turning. Once charred on several sides, you can remove the pieces using tongs and place in a bowl. If you are not doing a vegan version then add some knobs of butter to melt and coat. Sprinkle brown sugar over liberally and, if making boozy, a splash or two of rum. Return to the grill to caramelise.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the mint and combine with the desiccated coconut.

making dessrt

On each plate place a large dollop of yoghurt, some crushed meringue (optional), a sprinkling of nuts and raisins, and a sprinkling of the mint and coconut mixture.
Place the caramelised and charred pineapple slice on top, and serve.

St Ives Food & Drink Festival took place on Porthminster Beach on the weekend of September 17th, 18th and 19th. Whilst it rained on the Friday, by Sunday when I was hosting the Asado Pit Chef’s Stage, out on the sand with St Ives Bay and Godrevy Lighthouse as our backdrop, the sun had come out and we had a glorious day on the sand.

st ives food and drink festival on porthminster beach
Photo by Adam Sargent

I spent most of the day up front with a microphone in my hand, alongside some amazing chefs like Jeffrey Robinson, the owner and executive chef of the New Yard Restaurant, The Idle Rocks’ head chef Dorian Janmatt, and Simon Hulstone of The Elephant in Torquay. I had a lovely catch up with Porthminster Beach Café’s chef de patron Mick Smith and we spoke about collaborating on some future projects (watch this space) and I even managed to squeeze in a demo of my own!

Photo by Adam Sargent

If you didn’t get a chance to get down to St Ives for this year’s event then I’ll share the recipe for my demo dish below, which I can best describe as “posh kebabs”, and be sure to mark your diary for next year’s event. There really is no other food festival quite like this one!

posh venison kebabs cooked at st ives food festival
Photo by Michelle Nash

Flatbreads with venison, beetroot relish, tahini yoghurt, smoked mushroom and burnt leeks.

As I was cooking on the Asado Pit Chef’s Stage, I was cooking over fire. Therefore, these instructions are for cooking on your barbecue, but you can adapt to cook it inside on your hob. I cooked venison loin from Westcountry Premium Venison – I’ll repeat it later, but that’s because it’s important: DON’T OVERCOOK YOUR VENISON! It’s really lean so you want it no more than medium-rare. Ok, here’s the recipe:

First up, to make the flatbreads get a mixing bowl and use a spoon to mix together 350 g self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 350 g natural yoghurt, then use clean hands to pat and bring everything together.
Dust a clean work surface with flour, then tip out the dough.
Knead for a minute or so to bring it all together (this isn’t a traditional bread recipe, so you don’t need to knead it for long – just enough time to bring everything together). Put the dough into a floured-dusted bowl and cover with a plate, then leave aside for a while.
Dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour, then divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 6 equal-sized pieces (roughly the size of a golf ball). With your hands, pat and flatten the dough, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into 12cm rounds, roughly 2mm to 3mm thick.
Cook each flatbread on the grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until bar-marked and puffed up, turning with tongs. Brush the flatbreads all over with herby garlic butter or oil as they come off the griddle.

cooking flatbreads

To make the beetroot relish, grate or finely shred beetroot and mix with red wine vinegar, sugar and mixed spice, then set aside until later.

I smoked the mushrooms by placing them on the grill and covering them with a metal bowl (or you could use a lid) to retain the smoke and moisture.
Cook the leek “dirty” directly on the coals, and once softened you can strip back as much or as little of the charred outer leaves as your like.

cooking leeks

Take your venison and cook that dirty too, putting it straight onto the coals. Venison only needs a couple of minutes – cooking it any more than medium rare will make it tough and leathery as it’s such a lean meat. Don’t overcook it! Take the meat off the coals and rest it in a warm place until you assemble your kebab.
If cooking inside on your hob, simply cook your leeks and venison in a very hot pan.

cooking venison dirty directly on the coals

To make the tahini yoghurt mix one part tahini with four parts yoghurt, a crushed clove of garlic and a pinch of salt.
Gently cook off the beetroot relish in a hot pan for a few minutes.

chef rupert cooper cooking at st ives food festival
Photo by Michelle Nash

Bring it all together by slicing your venison, then pile a bit of everything into a flatbread and tuck in!

posh venison kebab

Summer’s not over yet.  If you’re keen to make the most of every opportunity and enjoy a beach feast at least one more time before the end of the summer holidays (not to mention the fact that most establishments in Cornwall have been fully booked all summer), then don’t settle for sandy or soggy sandwiches or a disposable bbq. Here are my top three tips to make it a simple, fun and memorable experience.

  • A fish clamp or grill basket is the only piece of kit that you need to cook over fire at the beach. Use it for grilling veg, sausages or meat as well as fish over a fire or bbq, and simply flip it over – no more chasing sausages around a grill with tongs, or dropping them on the coals.
  • Buy cooked crab from a fishmonger and on your way to the beach stop off for some chips from the takeaway for an amazing, messy, seafood feast on the sand. Don’t forget some crab cracking tools, though!
  • If you want to barbecue at the beach, then get yourself a bucket bbq, wood and charcoal, rather than a disposable bbq. Light a fire in it, add charcoal, then cook over it, thus avoiding the flavour taint of firelighters. It’s also tidier and better value for money because you can reuse it.

In our latest recipe video, I’m preparing and cooking a beautiful “Jacob’s Ladder” short rib of beef from Meat & Co. Jacob’s Ladder is the crème de la crème of beef ribs, cut from the front ribs of the chuck and plate of the beast to give a neat cross section of shortened ribs with plenty of meat attached. Click play and I’ll show you how to slowly braise it with spices (in this case a Middle Eastern mix, but you could also do a classic barbecue blend or a Chinese style spice mix) and red wine beef stock in the oven, before smoking it on the barbecue, creating ribs that are the best of both worlds. I find that if you smoke a joint like this on the barbecue the whole time it can get a bit tough, whereas by braising the ribs low and slow in the oven for 3-4 hours first before finishing it on the barbecue with some oak smoke, it retains a lot of moisture and the end result is much better.


Smoking has been used as a means of preserving and flavouring food, particularly meat and fish, for thousands of years. These days, few people smoke their own ingredients at home and instead buy ready smoked products (mackerel, salmon, and bacon are the most common), however the process is incredibly easy and accessible.

We’re going to share a few different smoking techniques with you over the course of a small series of articles, ranging from the simplest DIY hot-smoking techniques, through to larger scale cold-smoking which can be more involved or require some additional equipment. Hot smoking (which we’ll cover in this article) is a method of medium temperature cooking using smoke, whereas cold smoking is a drying process at a lower temperature that flavours the ingredients but doesn’t cook them. We cover some of these techniques in our Better Barbecuing course, or keep your eye out for specialist smoking courses and feasts with our friends from Pro-Q.

If you want to experiment with hot smoking fish fillets, garlic, cheese or other smaller items, then a home-made biscuit tin smoker is a great place to start. You can buy a special hot smoker, but the principle is exactly the same.

Biscuit Tin Smoker Materials and Ingredients

  • An old metal sweet, biscuit or cake tin, or a metal bread bin
  • A wire cooling rack or wire mesh
  • A pair of pliers
  • Hacksaw (optional)
  • A drill with a metal drill bit or a screwdriver/centre-punch and hammer
  • Piece of scrap wood
  • Wood chips (hardwood such as apple, cherry, beech, or oak – not softwood)
  • Salt flakes or coarse salt for curing
how to make a biscuit tin smoker

How To Make A Biscuit Tin Smoker

If your wire rack doesn’t fit inside the tin, then use a hacksaw to cut it down to slightly larger than the tin and then with your pliers bend the cut ends down to make legs. You rack should sit about 10cm or so off the bottom of the tin.

wire rack in a biscuit tin smoker

Take the lid of your tin and make a couple of holes in it. To do this, place the scrap wood underneath and then either drill two holes or punch them in with the screwdriver and hammer.

biscuit tin smoker filled with wood chips

Place a layer of woodchips or shavings in the base of the tin, a centimeter or so deep, and then set your rack in place.

Hot Smoking Method

To prepare fish or meat for smoking, you need to cure it using salt, to draw out the moisture. Sprinkle a layer of salt flakes, or very coarse salt (fine salt is too aggressive and will leave an overly salty flavour) on a plate, then lay your fillet on top and sprinkle another layer over the top. You can create a curing mix with brown sugar, or citrus zest and spices added if you wish. Place it in the fridge and leave it. For a fillet of mackerel that is quite thin then five to ten minutes will do, but a thicker piece of meat might require an hour. You want a pellicle to form, which is a slightly sticky surface. Once cured, rinse the fillet quickly under cold running water to remove the salt and pat dry with kitchen paper.

mackerel fillets

Place your biscuit tin onto your barbecue or gas burner (be aware, if you are doing this inside over a gas hob your kitchen will get very smoky, and likely set off your smoke alarm so be sure to open all the windows and doors) and heat until the wood chips start to smoulder. Place your mackerel fillets, or whatever it is that you’re smoking, on the rack and place the lid on securely. Turn the heat down or move the tin slightly to a lower heat are of your barbecue, and leave it to do its thing! If you are hot smoking mackerel then check it after ten minutes – if the flesh is opaque and flakey, then it’s done! Thicker cuts of fish or meat will take longer, depending upon how thick it is.

biscuit tin smoker on a barbecue

Once you’ve made your biscuit tin smoker it will last you for ages. Every time you fire up your barbecue or fire pit, or take a bucket barbecue to the beach, you can take your hot smoker with you as well and smoke fish for yourself and your family or friends. If you’re a fisherman or angler then you can cook your catch right there and then, and enjoy freshly caught and smoked fish with thinly sliced and buttered brown bread, and a squeeze of lemon juice, or make mackerel pate by flaking the fish and mixing it with crème fraiche.

smoked mackerel in a biscuit tin hot smoker

A Guide to Different Wood Chips For Smoking

  • Apple – Mild and fruity flavour – amazing if you can get hold of some!
  • Oak – a classic and heavier flavour, it is usually used for smoking meat or game but it goes really well with salmon, although you need to be careful not to overdo it.
  • Beech – a subtle smoke flavour – beech is a great all-round option
  • Alder – a classic option for smoked salmon, alder produces a delicate and slightly sweet flavour.

Asado is an incredible Argentinian all-day outdoor cooking experience that is a real feast for the senses, and we’re excited to be welcoming chef Tim Gibb of Asado Fire Kitchen to Philleigh Way on Sunday August 2nd for a special asado course.  To get an idea of what attendees can expect from the day, and to find out more about the art of asado, we fired Tim a few questions. 

chef tim gibb of asado fire kitchen cooking a whole side of lamb

For those who aren’t familiar with it, what is asado?
Asado is not just the act of cooking over fire it’s the ambience created by the whole event. Its about the food, the party, the drinks and the good vibes. Similar to what we term BBQ, just taken up a few levels. Generally it’s a whole day and night event and nothing is rushed.

So there’s more to it than cooking a whole lamb over fire on a cross?
The lamb on the cross is one of the most iconic asado images and it really does do the meat justice, but the whole day/event is a feast. Vegetables cooked over fire is a whole world of new flavours and things to play with.

vegetables cooked in the embers of a fire asado style

Your Dad ran a smokery where you live in Dorset so you grew up surrounded by smokey flavours, but how did you then discover asado and develop your skills?
Working with Dad from a young age led me into kitchens, with a particular passion for seafood. I also spent a lot of time around the Jurassic coast of Dorset fishing as a nipper, and we all know that you also spend a lot of time not catching fish! During these times fires were usually a go to and if/when the fish did turn up we were rolling. Cooking preparation back then was never our strong point – it usually centered around a fire, a dirty knife and a pokey stick thing trying to avoid the exploding pebbles, but it possessed a beautiful simplicity. One thing has led to another over the years skills wise, and having travelled, but I was consistently drawn back to cooking over and around fire. Then I just put the two together and started discovering where things could go. I don’t think you ever stop learning.

smoking meat asado style

From where do you find your inspiration?
Like any chef (I imagine) it comes from the excitement of eating and having a good time. We live in an incredible time where local produce is going from strength to strength and finding new ways of doing it the justice that it deserves is an exciting prospect. I don’t profess to adhering strictly to the South American rules of asado, its more that I’ve taken the style and the ethos and I’m giving it an English twist. Fire cooking is huge now so one of the joys of social media is seeing what others are up to and how they are doing it. Not only for new ingredients, but for cooking methods and techniques.

herbs used to baste meat whilst cooking over fire

Where’s the most memorable place you’ve lit your fire?
For me it has to be the beach – I’m a huge fan. Chesil Beach is incredible and even though it’s right on my doorstep it never grows old. Every venue provides new challenges, its one of the joys of outdoor cooking and because you’re always on the move it stays exciting. 2020 had some stunning venues lined up: the shore of Lake Windemere, a back drop of the historic ruins of Corfe Castle here in Dorset, Penn Castle over looking the Portland race towards Durdle Door to name a few, but unfortunately Covid-19 put a stop to all these for the time being. 2021 will be an awesome year.

tim gibb of asado fire kitchen cooking fish and shellfish over a fire on the beach

What’s your favourite thing to cook over fire and why? Any surprises?
I’m a huge fan of cooking seafood. It really takes the flavor of the fire so well and there is a heap of different ways to cook things that keeps it exhilarating. Dirty lobsters, planked fillets, grilling prawns, scallops in there shells, fire basket mussels, the list is endless. The fire looks so cool when it’s packed with a seafood feast and a lot of it is amazingly simple to do.
Watermelon is one of the more unusual items to put around a fire I suppose you could say, although nothing is off limits anymore. The flesh absorbs a beautiful sweet smokey flavor, not too dissimilar to tuna – but it’s watermelon!! Reserve the sweet juice that you collect during cooking and you have a watermelon consommé. A bit of smoked feta, mint dressing and you have a vegetarian alternative that will stun the most hardened carnivores.

cooking meat, fish, fruit and vegetables over fire asado style

And your favourite bit of kit?
Not so much an individual bit of kit but I’ve been converting a 1964 Bedford fire engine for a few years now and although we keep hitting road blocks, when I get everything that I have planned in my head on board she really will be a fire cooking mecca. It’s going to be an Argentine grill, hot smoker and wood fire kitchen all in one. It’s been a challenge, but during lockdown we have made positive progress with her and I’m optimistic that things are now moving in the right direction.
Kit-wise it has to be the pit and frame from Tom at Country Fire Kitchen. Its incredibly well made and versatile so has endless possibilities.

portico outdoor kitchen by country fire kitchen

What will attendees on your course learn, and what will they be able to repeat at home after the course?
Attendees will learn a host of different cooking areas surrounding a fire and how to utilize the energy and flavor in all manner of ways. They will learn how to adapt equipment they may have at home to cook in ways they never thought possible. We will cook some things fast, some slow, some dirty and discuss the benefits of the best way to cook particular things and why. We will get the lamb on the cross, veggies in the embers and showcase how you can do smaller versions for smaller parties.

cooking meat asado style

If you could give aspiring backyard asadors one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you think something is possible and like the idea of it there is only one way to find out: Do it! The rules are consistently being re-written so don’t be put off by the fact you haven’t seen it done before. Also, get rid of your watch. It’s ready when it’s ready and until then enjoy the company, drink and conversation.

Click here to find out more about the asado course on Sunday August 2nd and to book one of the few remaining spaces.

As summer hits and the evenings draw out, many of us are spending more time cooking and eating outside. Whether that means barbecuing in your backyard or (as lockdown measures ease) a day trip to a beach, here are a few of my top tips for eating well outside and making sure that cooking and clearing up after yourself is as easy as possible.

The One Essential Bit of BBQ Kit

A fish clamp or grill basket is the only piece of kit that you need to cook over fire at the beach, or over your bbq at home. Use it for grilling veg, sausages or meat as well as fish over a fire or bbq, and simply flip it over – no more chasing sausages around a grill with tongs, or dropping them on the coals!

Cracking Crab

Buy cooked crab from a fishmonger – lots of fisherman and fish merchants have been selling direct or online (for delivery) during lockdown. You can find a comprehensive list of Cornish fish and shellfish options for local collection and nationwide delivery here. Then either cook some chips or French fries at home and take them with you, or stop off to pick up some chips from a takeaway (many of them are now re-opening with physical distancing policies in place) on your way to the beach for an amazing, messy, seafood feast on the sand. Don’t forget some crab cracking and picking tools, though! I’d recommend a small pin hammer to crack the shell and then use the handle of a teaspoon to remove the white meat.

How To Barbecue at The Beach

If you want to barbecue at the beach, then get yourself a bucket bbq, wood and charcoal, rather than a disposable bbq. Light a fire in it, add charcoal, then cook over it, thus avoiding the flavour taint of firelighters. It’s also tidier and better value for money because you can reuse it. Just be sure to clear up after yourselves and leave only your footprints on the sand!

Other ways that we might be able to help…

Philleigh Way BBQ Packs

If you’re in Cornwall then let us help shoulder some of your BBQ burden with one of our BBQ packs – everything that you need for a classic, Middle Eastern inspired or luxury BBQ including meats, spice mixes, steak rubs, artisan breads and salads.

Outside Cookery Courses

If you’re interested in improving your outside cooking skills, then as soon as it’s safe, sensible and permitted for us to start teaching our courses again we’ll likely be starting with our outside cookery courses (with physical distancing and appropriate health and hygiene measures in place). Choose from Better Barbecuing or an Argentian Asado Masterclass. Dates have yet to be updated, and as yet we’re unsure when we will be phasing some of our courses back in, but e-mail to express an interest and we’ll get in touch to let you know.

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