the barbecologist: jason wood
The (self-proclaimed!) Barbecologist! My barbecue journey has so far been thus:
Always been an avid cook at home, when living with limited cooking facilities I took it upon myself to expand my repertoire by purchasing a cheap, supermarket branded gas barbecue. This served me well and covered the basics of being able to cook something that didn’t involve a kettle or microwave on a regular, practical basis. Several years later I upgraded to a Weber 57cm kettle barbecue (the one that has the mega useful table bit on the side, technically marketed as the ‘Performer Deluxe’ the name sounds more like a hideous brand of condom!), and after a work trip to Kansas I slipped and fell into an Alice-in-Wonderland style hole of low’n’slow smoked goodness. On return to the UK this saw me use the Weber to do more than I ever imagined possible, including a couple of competition barbecue cooking classes, one with the UK’s most successful competition barbecue team ‘Bunch of Swines’ with Ed and Emma. This is where your usual backyard Pitmaster story ends.
In 2016 I undertook a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) where, largely by accident I ended up writing my dissertation on the Sustainability of the UK Barbecue Food Industry. I then spent a summer interviewing a raft of the UK barbecue scene’s leading characters, from chefs, magazine editors, bloggers, charcoal manufacturers, barbecue restaurant managers, smokehouse owners, barbecue event organisers and social media influencers. My enthusiasm for the topic and enjoyment I got researching food sustainability as well as interacting and learning from those in the industry meant I was awarded a distinction for the dissertation and distinction overall for my MBA (which I now of course refer to as my Masters of Barbecue Administration!). The MBA represented the start of the more ‘academic’ interest in the historical, cultural, scientific, social, evolutionary and technological aspects of barbecue in addition to the pure culinary and gastronomy aspects of the style of cooking. Which as you’ll see later I have continued to take forward.
I was due to attend a barbecue competition, Q Fest in Devon, as a spectator in mid-2017 with a friend of mine. He bailed on me the week before, so I posted on the Facebook site associated with the event that I was coming anyway, was coming without any buddies (sympathy vote!), and offered my services of washing up, trimming meat, supervising smokers in the early hours, handing out beers, mopping chef’s brows or whatever was needed to whoever wanted them; the teams, the organisers, the bar staff…whoever! One of the team owners, Malcolm, needed a hand and having done some competition barbecue courses (Ed and Emma’s for example) I had some of vague knowledge of the difference between competition barbecue prep and cooking and backyard barbecue…I still had a lot to learn! One thing led to another and after helping Malcom and his team ‘Tea and Briskets’ at several events I wasn’t able to commit to the cost and time being a competition barbecue team was going to incur (it’s expensive…and you have to travel…A LOT!), but still keen to be part of the scene I became a Certified Barbecue Judge (CBJ) with the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). I now try and attend KCBS and other events across the UK as a barbecue judge.
Returning to Barbecology, the more academic side also continued me down the rabbit hole first fallen into in Kansas, where one of my MBA dissertation interviewees, the editor of an online barbecue magazine (UK BBQ Mag), asked if I’d like to write for his magazine, so I did. I was a contributor until the online magazine progressed into print form (as BBQ Magazine) and moved from its online platform, and wrote articles on the Sustainability of Barbecue (from my dissertation), Barbecue and Religion, Barbecue and Evolution and Barbecue and Leadership, among others. I was also interviewed by the UK’s first, and I believe still the only, dedicated barbecue podcast, United Q, hosted by Dan and Ben, funnily enough the very same dudes who did Q Fest where I entered the competition door on my way further down Alice’s rabbit hole).
This site emerged as a ‘public face’ to my endeavours when I was undertaking my MBA dissertation interviews and cold calling some of the UK barbecue scene’s notable figures at the time. Barbecology came about due to mixture of the interests surrounding something initially so innocuous, but inherently linked to something much bigger in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Barbecology is the art and science of live fire cooking and I am...The Barbecologist.
I would love to hear from you!!
Please feel free to get in touch using the form below or using one of my social media profiles on the front page. Follow me on Twitter @barbecology and Instagram as barbecology. I'm especially keen if you are interested in my MBA research as I'm always on the lookout for new, innovative and challenging ideas pushing the boundaries of barbecue.