Chef Hugo shares his barbecue expertise

June 06, 2018 EventsFood & drink

As the summer season kicks off, there’s nothing better than getting together with family and friends for a barbecue. To help you host your own successful gathering, we quizzed the man who knows a thing or two about charcoal grilling ‒ our very own executive chef Hugo Bolanos, the host at the helm of our own barbecue events. Here’s what he had to say, along with his favourite sauce recipe.

Five tips from the pro

For those of you looking to enjoy home barbecuing this summer, I wanted to share my top tips to ensure you impress your guests!

  1. First off, use really good quality charcoal and wood. Personally I like to use oak wood and mesquite charcoal, and I always steer clear of briquettes because they just don’t give you the same flavour.
  1. Visit your local farmers’ market for great quality fresh meat and vegetables, I promise it will make all the difference to the end result. Look out for fruit that you can barbecue too, such as peaches and plums, which are ideal for livening up a salad or serve with ice cream for dessert.
  1. Always try to set aside a little extra time to make your own barbecue sauce from scratch. It’s the perfect accompaniment to barbecued meats and grilled vegetables, and it will make everyone will think you’re a pro. See my foolproof recipe below.
  1. Take meat out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start cooking and season it at the ready. Once cooked, allow time for the meat to rest as this will make sure it’s juicy. As a guide rest steak, fish and chicken for a quarter of its total cooking time.
  1. Add a high quality finishing salt for an extra boost of flavour just before serving. My personal favourites are Balinese sea salt or Maldon sea salt flakes.

For more inspiration come along to one of our barbecue events and see how it’s done.

Barbecue sauce recipe 


4 onions
8oz light brown sugar
4oz Worcestershire sauce
6oz canola or rapeseed oil
8oz garlic powder
2oz dried thyme
4oz golden raisins
16oz crushed fresh tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2oz fresh sliced garlic
6oz tomato paste
2oz chillies
2oz toasted cumin seeds
2oz toasted mustard seeds
8oz red wine vinegar


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions and garlic until soft.
  2. Add the tomato paste, fresh tomatoes and spices. Cook until the spices release their wonderful fragrance.
  3. Mix in red wine vinegar followed by all the other remaining ingredients and add just enough water to cover it. You can always add more water later if the sauce gets too thick.
  4. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 45 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Allow to cool and serve with your favourite barbecue dishes.

Recipe yields 2 quarts.

My favourite flavours

I love the rich smoky flavours and dry rubs of Texas style barbecues. This style of preparation really lets the meat shine. My favourite rub is simple yet delicious and is great with ribs, sausages and chicken.  All you do is mix ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika with some of your favourite dried herbs – simple.

For an easy but impressive vegetarian main or side dish, grill an assortment of squash and add some baby patty pans, quinoa and a spicy salsa verde. It’s a really colourful showstopper that always gets a great reaction.

Join us this summer

If you’re a barbecue fan you won’t want to miss our next Bel-Air BBQ Series, taking place on June 17 (Father’s Day), July 4, and September 5. Come and enjoy Texas-style slow-cooked meats, the sweet and spicy flavours of Kansas City’s signature sauces or the unique smoky flavours an Argentine asado.

Pick a date today

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