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BBQ tips from Liverpool’s Smokefaced Grilla

1 year ago

BBQ tips from Liverpool’s Smokefaced Grilla

BBQ season is most definitely here and we’ve lined up all the advice you could need from a Liverpool expert.

It’s cracking the flags, and if there’s anything you can put your money on when the temperatures start to soar, it’s that we’ll all be heading out into the garden to fire up the coals.

“The BBQ is something everyone in the country loves to embrace when the sun comes out and it’s easy to see why,” says Tom Dodson, aka Liverpool’s Instagram al-fresco cooking king, Smokefaced Grilla.

“The warm weather equals cold drinks, having the friends and family all round to eat, and having a laugh together.”

But he adds: “It’s also notorious for burnt sausages, dry burgers, and questionably cooked chicken!”

Since COVID things have started to change though, says Tom, from Wavertree. Being forced to meet and eat outside a lot of people realised it was time to up their game when it came to cooking outdoors – ‘myself included’ he adds. 

BBQ Tips
Pic – Smokefaced Grilla

“This has led to an influx in superb BBQ-based social media accounts that can help anyone put dishes together that are equally impressive as any dish cooked in a kitchen,” says Tom.

“And, while barbecuing is a staple of summertime cooking, it’s also great all year round. A nice big joint of meat smoked or roasted always makes for a hearty meal in the colder months, adding a new depth of flavour.”

The past 18 months have been a whirlwind for Tom. From taking up barbecuing as a hobby and therapy for PTSD after a house fire, it’s propelled him into a business, seen him winning BBQ competitions – ‘Steak or Break’ which was a best steak on a BBQ competition held by the biggest charcoal producer in Europe, and ‘Masked Griller’ which was in the format of the singing show and completely anonymous – and earned him the name of Steak King because of his love for cooking all kinds of steaks in different ways.

“I’ve even held events – Cowboy Tapas –  with my partner Laura Worthington from Laura’s Little Bakery and Berry & Rye which was a highlight for me, we’ve done cooks for the Owen McVeigh Foundation in Liverpool which supports children suffering from cancer and their families, and I was recently invited to cook with Michelin Star restaurant, The Star Inn, at Tom Kerridge’s “Pub In The Park” food and music festival alongside Eddie Kilty of Kilty & Co.

“I hold mobile one-to-one steak masterclasses where I go out and teach people how to cook the best steaks on their BBQs…it’s been insane,” grins Tom.

So who better than to give us advice when we head outside to create our own BBQ feasts?

Tom’s top tips for barbecuing this summer are:

Get good quality charcoal

Anything with lighter fluid on or “quick light” is a no-go! The chemicals will taint your food and the charcoal will burn away too quickly. There are plenty of great charcoal companies online and a few natural fire lighters paired with good charcoal will stand you in good stead for a great cook.

Invest in good meat

Be wary of pre-sauced meats bought from butchers or supermarkets. Much of the time they’ll contain a lot of sugar which will burn quicker than your meat will cook. A lot of great butchers offer nationwide delivery, including my go to guy, Butcher Farrell.

Learn about your BBQ

We live in a world where all the hints and tips are available with such ease. Search the model of your BBQ on YouTube and you’ll instantly have how to guides/step by steps and recipe videos all available. Instagram is also a great place as there’s so many helpful people who have accounts that are always willing to help out.

Rest your meat

This always gets forgotten, which is understandable. But you spend so much time cooking a whole chicken or a nice steak to slice into it right away just for the juices to come pouring out. Sit it on the side for 20 minutes, then slice and serve.

Cook to temperature

Cook to temp, not time. Although it’s nice to have everything planned out and organised it’s much better to be safe than sorry. With Chicken the golden rule is ‘165 stay alive’ (that’s 165F, otherwise it’d be charcoal!). A meat thermometer is a must-have tool for any griller.

Smokefaced Grilla

Control the heat

Learn how to control the heat. The reason so many people end up with burnt sausages/burger at a BBQ is because they get the coals red hot then throw the food on, burning the outside but it’s raw on the inside. 90% of BBQs have vents, airflow is how you control the temperature so if the vents are open there’ll be more air and more heat.Watch YouTube videos on how to control the temp on your model. 


Grilled or roasted veg on a BBQ is great for a side or for the non-meat eater in your life. A drizzle of olive oil and salt goes a long way with grilled veg. One of my favourites is a butternut squash, slice in half, remove the seeds and rub with olive oil, grill flesh side down until soft then serve with feta, pine nuts, squeeze of lemon juice. Also burnt onions or leeks add a whole depth of flavour to usually boring veg.

Have fun!

If you get stressed or don’t have fun, there’s less chance of you wanting to do it again. The worst thing that can happen is some overcooked food and a takeaway is needed – it’s not the end of the world and usually makes a story and a laugh in the future. Ask guests to bring some sides to ease the pressure on you, one brings a salad, one brings some mac & cheese, and another brings something else. Have snacks so you’re not getting pestered, and people aren’t rushing you.

Get in touch with me!

Feel free to message me on instagram HERE for any advice and any enquiries into booking a masterclass email  

Get the tastiest food and drink news for Liverpool HERE.



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