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What Not to Miss at this Weekend's Big Grill Festival

It's finally here. The Big Grill Festival is happening this weekend from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th August in Herbert Park. There is a lot to see (and eat), so we've put together our top picks for the weekend which might help you navigate things.

The Food

The restaurants pitching up at the site to cook over live fire include Clanbrassil House (famous for their in-house charcoal grill), Fowl Play (who only cook using live fire in their Hogan Place site), Smokasa, Kinara Kitchen, the Dublin Pizza Company, and Smokestak, purveyors of game-changing barbecue in London, whose main man David Carter will be cooking brisket tacos with sesame, cucumber and chilli on Friday and Saturday (do not miss them).

On Thursday and Friday, Mark O’Brien from Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa will showcase Irish fish cooked using traditional fire methods. He’ll be serving Irish oysters with pickled wild garlic stems and smoked Irish trout with late summer salad and bread and butter pickles.

Ramael Scully, former head chef of Nopi and owner of one of London's most talked about openings in the past year, Scully Restaurant, will be cooking smoked goat rendang on Saturday and Sunday, and Paul Flynn of The Tannery in Waterford will be there on Sunday, cooking smoked pork belly with Highbank Orchard syrup, with the help of Fingal Ferguson.

John Relihan, one of the best pitmasters in Europe, will be cooking all weekend at his Mexican BBQ pop-up, Smokasa. Dishes include grilled Picanha steak, the Smokasa burger and Dirty Squash Tacos. Fowl Play, owned and run by two of the founders of The Big Grill Festival, Andy Noonan and Trev O’Shea will be cooking ‘The Bird Cage’, 6 hour fire-roasted free range chicken and game.

Michelin starred chef JP McMahon from Aniar in Galway will also be there over the weeked cooking with Heineken Wild Lager, which he's paired with rib-eye steak with garlic pesto and roasted hazelnuts, and monkfish with asparagus and woodruff. Another one we definitely wouldn't want to miss is award-winning Brooklyn chef Billy Durney from Hometown BBQ, who's cooking smoked beef rib with pickles, white onion and toast on Saturday, and doing a barbequed smoked ribs demo on Sunday.

Talks and Demos

On Saturday, food writer and hamburger expert Nick Solares will host “The State of the Irish Hamburger” with Grainne O’Keefe, culinary director of Bujo and Tom Gleeson, owner of Bunsen. O’Keefe will also be cooking throughout the weekend with Clanbrassil House, where she's head chef, famous for their in-house charcoal grill which much of the menu is based on.

On Saturday, charcutier, knife maker and one of Ireland’s most championed producers, Fingal Ferguson will give a demo on cold smoking at home, and on Sunday he's doing one on knives with Nick Solares. Also on Sunday, Jess Murphy from Kai in Galway will be cooking up the “Bucky BBQ”, smoked Buckfast goat shoulder basted breakfast rolls, and straight after that, Robin Gill's on stage with recipes from his new book 'Larder'.

If you need a break from meat, DJ BBQ will be cooking Grilled Halloumi Burgers on Saturday. Jess Murphy will be cooking up her 'VeganAsFu%k' BBQ, which includes sweetcorn with Gochujang, miso roasted yellow courgette, grilled plantains, spelt naan with heirloom tomatoes and grilled peaches. Head chef of Cook’s Academy Jack O’Keefe will also be grilling cauliflower over turf and serving it with a cabbage and mint tabbouleh.

Demos at the Bushcraft area over the weekend include Fire By Friction, Pit Spuds, Traditional Jerky Smoking, Pannising (using sticks to cook fish over fire) and bacon marshmallow smores by the Cupcake Bloke. And we'd be heading for the Cupcake Bloke's stand at some stage anyway because you can't eat all that meat and not have dessert.


Offside, the private dining area will focus on nose-to-tail eating this year. Twenty seats are available for each sitting, with a surprise menu and curated drinks. Rama Basilio and Andy Noonan will be cooking ‘Parilla’, a four course Argentinian Asado, featuring paired wines from Mendoza. ‘A Wild Game Feast’ hosted by Nick Weston and Lucas Wooten, will use an array of locally foraged ingredients and wild game paired with wild cocktails and natural wines, and Weston will also serve the whole Dexter steer roast on the final day of the festival.

Booze In terms of alcoholic beverages to wash down the feast of meat, there will be a huge range of craft beers available from Franciscan Well, Eight Degrees Brewing Co, Wicklow Wolf, and Brewtonic, to name a few, as well as cider from Dan Kelly's and Scott's Irish cider, and gin from 6 O'Clock.

There will also be bands and DJs playing throughout the weekend, not that you’ll be bored with this line-up. This is definitely not a festival for light-eaters. Maybe don't have breakfast. Or dinner the night before.

The Big Grill Festival

Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Thu 16th Aug - Sun 19th Aug