While outdoor cooking is nothing new to most Australians, a Perth man is finding new ways to make the barbecue an indispensable culinary tool, as Julie-anne Sprague discovered.
COOKING pizza or sausage rolls on a barbecue might sound a little out of left field, but an expert in Aussie outdoor cuisine knows there’s more to the sizzle than steak … and he’s prepared to pass on his secrets.
Chris Girvan-Brown started his cooking classes, Urban Griller, as a hobby business about a year ago but the word has spread and bookings have prompted Mr Girvan-Brown to fire up the burners a little more often.
“I did a class many moons ago and didn’t do anything for a long time. Then about a year ago I did a class and the response was extraordinary,” Mr Girvan-Brown says.
“I had people ringing saying their mates had done a class and they just had to come.
“I haven’t advertised, it’s just come through word of mouth.”
Mr Girvan-Brown says the barbecue is a highly underrated cooking instrument that has many more uses than just for cooking prawns, snags and steak.
“People don’t use their barbecues to potential,” he says.
“The barbecue is a better oven than a house oven because it offers a lot more control.
“In a domestic oven there is the one burner, but you have four or six burners on a barbecue and you can choose to only have one if you want.
“With a barbecue you can have a slow fire or else have something rocketing away.”
Participants at Urban Griller classes range from young couples to retirees.
“We get all kinds of people along. We had two sisters who had bought their dad a ticket [to Urban Griller] for Christmas and the three of them came,” Mr Girvan-Brown says.
“We have people coming who are about to buy a barbecue to those who have had it for ages and don’t cook on it often enough.”
But don’t think Mr Girvan-Brown’s classes are about chatting around a sizzling sumptuous feast.
The class takes place over two weekends, usually on Saturdays, from 10am-4.30pm.
“It’s a relentless pace,” he says.
While there is plenty of food to go around (Mr Girvan-Brown advises participants eat a light breakfast and don’t plan on a big dinner) there is also plenty of information to get through.
“I could do a third day but that’s probably getting too far,” he says.
Topics covered range from the difference between charcoal fire and heat bead fire and the differences between direct, indirect and covered cooking on both gas grill and weber kettles.
Tips and tricks on how to get the best out of any barbecue is a given.
“This is not a gourmet-grill-little-things-on-sticks-then-pour-a-pretty sauce-over kind of class. This is down-to-earth serious, get-your-hands-dirty barbecue,” he says.
Mr Garvin-Brown is also considering running single classes as well as lunchtime mid-week classes.
Class sizes range from 15 to 25 people and cost $200, which covers food costs, a 116-page barbecue cookbook, and priceless tips.
“One of the biggest surprises people have is that you can cook pizza. You use the barbecue like you would a wood-fired oven,” Mr Girvan-Brown says.
“There’s a couple of tricks to it but a lot of people don’t think it’s barbecue fare, but it comes out great.
“Smoking food is also something that is foreign to people because it’s never been something we do.”
Mr Garvin-Brown’s next class is scheduled for late May and details can be found at www.arach.net.au/~urbangriller
Currying favour with the suits
A NEW Indian restaurant called Nine Blue Mary’s will open this weekend opposite QV1. The leasee, Murray Kimber, is also planning to open an Indian restaurant in Highgate.
Experienced restaurant manager Sid Grewal will take charge of Nine Blue Mary’s. Mr Grewal already manages Chutney Mary’s in Subiaco and owns Maya Masala in Northbridge.
Gusto understands that the food and the dining experience at Nine Blue Mary’s will be different to the popular Chutney Mary’s. Given it’s located in ‘suit-central’, the word is a more sophisticated menu and dining experience will be offered.
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Grind Espresso Bar has stepped up a notch by adding pasta dishes to its quality line-up of lunch bites and great coffee.
Proprietor Pasha D’Silva has enlisted the services of former Altos Bistro chef de partie and Piazza Subiaco sous chef, Holli Tuia, to build up a good menu of pastas.
“It’s working really well. People can come in and have a quick pasta and get back to the office within a half-hour. A lot of my customers are lawyers and stock brokers and they’re busy so coming in for a quick pasta is good for them,” Mr D’Silva says.
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