Canada-born Patrick Friesen usually goes to the source when it comes to barbecue, with the Chef using the American South as an inspiration when he helped open Papi Chulo at Manly Wharf, NSW, for the Merivale group.
“American BBQ came from the African method of cooking over fire mixed with butcher shops needing a way to sell the cheaper less desirable meats,” says Friesen who developed a menu using three charcoal cooking methods at Papi Chulo on Sydney’s northern beaches.
“During harvesting season, hordes of people would come into the rural communities to help get the crops off the field. At the same time, meat markets in towns were running as butcher shops and to boost business they started preparing the meats that were harder to sell and selling them at lunchtime to the field workers.”
Chef Chris Terlikar’s career may have started out at the Michelin-starred PUBLIC restaurant in New York, but it was a visit to a Hill Country-style barbecue in Brooklyn that led to a three-month trip through Texas - including 18 hour stints making the perfect brisket - which revolutionised his cooking.
While Terlikar, of Melbourne’s Bluebonnet, may have hand-built his first smoker out of a toolbox, dishwasher pipe and bucketloads of heat-proof black paint his latest 500-gallon tank (280kg of barbecue) ideally pairs innovative techniques with two decades of experience in food. It’s one of three smokers in the stable of his North Fitzroy restaurant.
Not only does Jay Beaumont run the Australian BBQ Alliance he is also the organiser of the recent Meatstock events in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland and BBQ Wars in Port Macquarie which is the biggest barbecue event in Australia.
Bovine and Swine in Sydney and Bluebonnet in Melbourne are his go-tos in Australia. “Bluebonnet is very highly regarded and Bovine and Swine have the most authentic experience you can get outside of Texas,” he says. “Especially Wes (Griffiths from Bovine and Swine). He has the Midas touch when it comes to brisket. He takes it to the next level.”
Papi Chulo, Manly: American BBQ mixed with Aussie-style wood fire grilled seafood.
Vic’s Meat Market, Pyrmont: Classic barbecue from a huge US Yoder smoker, dubbed “Kong”, imported by merchant banker-turned-butcher and barbecue innovator Anthony Puharich.
LP’s Quality Meats, Chippendale: Luke Powell is another Chef with a premium-grade skills (ex Tetsuya’s), who is now applying it to a 1.5 tonne smoker at this back alley diner.
Bovine and Swine, Newtown: Run by former Vic’s Chef Wes Griffiths, “the hillbilly of barbecue” who has a letter tattooed on each finger which spell out BARBECUE. Brisket to die for.
Bluebonnet BBQ, North Fitzroy: This is the place to be in Melbourne to get proper Texas-style BBQ from a chef trained at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Big Boy BBQ, Caulfield South and Melbourne CBD: One funky laneway joint and a suburban diner both offering slow-cooked American-style ribs, wings and smoked meat platters.
Pit Boss American BBQ & Eats, Newmarket: The headline act is half a slab of country-style pork ribs, 18-hour hand-pulled pork, buffalo wings and smoky barbecue wings.
The Smoke BBQ, New Farm: With imported hickory wood burning day and night in a huge smoker from Kentucky, relish authentic barbecue from two Americans, one from New orleans, the other from Pittsburgh.
Old Faithful, Perth CBD: Perth's first traditional American barbecue smokehouse, with most meats brined for up to 12 hours then rubbed with spices to compliment the different cuts before being smothered in housemade sauces.
Porky’s BBQ, Northbridge: This venue uses locally-sourced meats to smoke over Australian hardwood, and signature sauces designed in-house to compliment Porkies’ dry rubs.
Pleased to Meet You, Northbridge: Listing Central and South America as influences this venue serves up everything from BBQ Angus steak to coal-roasted suckling pig.
Side Door Barbecue, Mount Lawley: Here American barbecue meat is long-marinated, slow-cooked, deep-smoked and carefully seasoned to bring out the flavour of the cut.
Low & Slow American BBQ, Port Adelaide: American-style barbecue pork and beef brisket smoked over oak and hickory for 18 hours and sold for $8 for 100g.
More Pork BBQ, Auckland CBD: Chef Clint Davies combines homemade rubs and sauces with hand-picked premium cuts of meat and smokes them low and slow in New Zealand’s first custom-built smoker, which he co-designed and co-built.
Miss Moonshine’s, Ponsonby: Who could ask for more with slow-cooked, wood-smoked, quality Kiwi meat, be it 8-hour beef short rib and brisket, pulled pork with moonshine sauce or beer-can chicken.