Ben Bartlett is catering development manager of Marston's Pub Company and team manager of the British barbecue team, which won the Best International Team award at the 19th annual Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA, last week. He spoke to Christopher Walton
What did you win and who did you beat?
"We were really delighted to win the top international team award, beating off teams from Norway, Belgium, Canada, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Estonia and the USA, which had contenders from all 50 states. And we were very pleased to beat the Australians. We also won the "I Know Jack About Grilling" award and came third in the Home Cooking for the Homeland category. "I Know Jack About Grilling" is a bit like Ready, Steady, Cook. We were given a box of ingredients to cook a main course with, and a couple of hours to prepare the meat, which was filet mignon, and we were allowed to use five spices to complement the entry. It was winner takes all with marks given for taste, texture and appearance.
What did you cook?
We put a barbecue rub on the filet mignon and finished it with a Jack Daniel's barbecue glaze and served it with a twice-baked potato which we filled with bacon, peppers, onions and a few spices. We also cooked blini pancakes and served them with caramelised bananas and a toffee and Jack Daniel's sauce. For the international award we had to cook chicken, ribs and pork. We had all this extra meat after the judges had tasted, which we distributed to the crowd. The line went on for as long as you could see.
What makes barbecuing different to roasting or frying meat?
Over here you tend to grill everything on coal, gas or wood. In the USA you cook the meat in a smoker, which looks a bit like a steam engine. We used a pecan and apple wood which gives the meat a sweet flavour. You want to coat the meat with smoke for several hours. The smoke then penetrates the seasoning - or the bark as they call it in the USA - by up to half an inch.
How did you impress the judges?
The judges come from throughout the world but we had to match some of the flavour profiles of the region, where they like it sweet with a bit of smoke, so for our pork we did pulled pork in that way.
How did you celebrate your victory?
We'd set up on the Thursday, started the marinating on the Friday, cranked up the barbecue at midnight and cooked from 4am on Saturday right through to 5.30 in the evening. After the competition we went back to Nashville and stayed at a country music hotel. We stayed in one of the bars that had a country and western singer but we just had one beer. We were going to fly back the next day and we were too tired.