Fancy watching a Jen Cloher set with a cold one in your left hand and a perfectly seasoned chicken wing in your right?
The Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival returns for a fourth instalment and this year welcomes the addition of a second city, with Sydney's inaugural event.
The festival brings together more than 60 brewers from across the nation, with musical acts including the aforementioned Jen Cloher as well as The Preatures, Holy Holy and Gooch Palms.
Duncan Welgemoed, founder of Adelaide’s beloved Africola, ensures the finest BBQ accompanies the beer and bangers as the official BBQ Ambassador.
Relationships were “first and foremost” in Duncan’s mind as he assembled the all-star culinary line-up. “We’re all very good friends. We’ve all either worked together or known each other in the industry,” he says.
“The community on the back end of that creates that real electricity of energy and people can really feel that when they come to the festival.”
Among the cooking alumni this year are Jimmy from the Unicorn Pub in Sydney, who’ll be “doing some stuff on spit” and the boys from Bovine and Swine. “You’d be hard pressed to find better BBQ in the country than from those guys,” Duncan says.
Vegetarians and vegans won’t go hungry, with an exciting first-time collaboration going down between Morgan McGlone from Belle’s and Shannon Martinez from Smith and Daughters. “It’s mental!” Duncan says.
The curator insists that his native South African BBQ leaves the Aussie equivalent in the dust. “First and foremost, South African BBQ uses charcoal and wood,” he explains. But the essential difference? “We get heaps drunk before we start cooking.”
Duncan is a firm believer in pumping music in his kitchen - at the moment, he’s grooving to Nine Inch Nails or Ghost while he works. “[Music and cooking] have to go hand in hand. It’s the soundtrack to what we do,” he says.
After training in top UK kitchens under chefs like Gordon Ramsey, Duncan decided that he wanted his own kitchen to run and moved to Australia. “You can serve in heaven or reign in hell, and I’d rather reign in my own hell, to be honest,” he says.
The chef earned accolades in Australian for his first restaurant, Bistro Dom, and Africola, a rock & roll dip into the lively culinary landscape of South Africa (secret hot sauce to boot), which received a Michelin Star. “We don’t take things very seriously at Africola, apart from the sourcing of our ingredients,” Duncan says.
“Food should be fun and it should be enjoyed in groups. There’s nothing that pleases me more than seeing a table full of food in a degustation type scenario.”
Every two years, Africola undergoes a complete redesign in look and menu to reflect a different area of the country; it’s due for its next reset this year. “We’re thinking about dopamine release, serotonin release, ‘gut to brain’ food,” Duncan says.
“There should be a chef’s dinner in the next couple of weeks. Really! With the festival as well, because I’m just f#$%ing insane.”
Duncan hopes his adventurous business decisions encourage other young entrepreneurs to be brave self-starters. “On paper, a restaurant like Africola shouldn’t have worked especially in South Australia,” Duncan says.
“Still, four years on, we’re one of the most popular restaurants in the state.”
SBBF and ABBF 2018 welcomes Duncan Welgemoed as their BBQ Ambassador; he will be curating the menus of all BBQers at both events: the Sydney event takes place at Entertainment Quarter Moore Park 29 June to 1 July; the Adelaide event takes place at Adelaide Showground 6-8 July.