Our co-founder, Kieran, tells us about the driving force behind Smoke & Flame
My mission started because of my Dad. His BBQs were awful. His cooking was awful. He had so many good points, but food and cooking were not amongst them. I was not alone.
As a child, BBQs were primarily about cooking food to within an inch of becoming carbon to ensure nobody had a chance of getting food poisoning. Or tasting anything. If this sounds familiar, read on...
Speaking to friends, it became apparent that our upbringing were sadly and predictably, similar: BBQs were great fun but the food was overcooked and typically British of the time - unflavoured meat.
Fast forward 30 years and, thanks in part to leaving home, my food tastes had broadened. Travel had exposed me to fiery Indonesian pig roasts, perfectly seared Argentine steaks with chimichurri, Japanese Yakitori cooked in the shadows of multi-tiered temples and skyscrapers - a whole world of flavour. There was more to this world than burgers, sausages and dried out chicken breasts. I didn't know it then but Smoke and Flame was born (albeit technically hibernating in a proverbial ballsack for a few years).
Fast forward a few years (and a stint in culinary school for Charlotte - my wife and co-founder) and, with the arrival of kids, weekends down the pub were out and, instead, replaced with more genteel affairs - dinners at friends' homes and, when the weather allowed, BBQs.
But, 'The Ghost of BBQs Past' had come to back to haunt us!
The confidence and adventure my friends had shown in kitchen disappeared as soon as they were faced with an open flame on a BBQ. They were constrained to burgers, sausages and overcooked other stuff. The same people who were serving up excellent Thai food (cooked from scratch) indoors were serving up the same stuff my Dad had done 30 years ago.
Not one of them had cooked 'low and slow' (or anything similar) - it was grilling or nothing. Babyback ribs were cooked in the oven just to be finished on the grill. The fear of undercooked meat had been passed from generation to generation. We were fucked. Very British, but utterly fucked. So we did something about it.
Testing started at the next BBQ - chicken thighs marinated in a rub that would become, with time and tinkering, our Persian Chicken rub - the blend that would start it all off...
Next BBQ: 8 hour cooked (on the BBQ only!) Boston Butt Pulled Pork. We were evangelical - we could do it, and so could you! People deserved great BBQs. People deserved to create great BBQs.
Next we were being asked for recipes. We'd go "Sure, I'll drop you a text after we've packed up" and we'd forget to do it, only to be chased down a few days later - give me the f****ng recipe!
Our friends were grateful for the help we provided - tried and tested flavours combined with easy to follow cooking techniques. If we could make BBQs better, make them easier and make them tastier for our friends then why not everyone else?
So today's company is a culmination of a string of unconnected events and a much loved Dad (but woefully unskilled chef). We hope our passion for innovative flavours and a firm belief that BBQing is for everyone, shines through in our offer to you.
But you shouldn't just expect passion for cooking when you buy from us. Each of our blends has been co-designed with our Consulting Chef, Jamie Robinson.
Jamie provides Executive Chef level input which help us take our recipes further - pairing hard-to-find ingredients scientifically and not being beholden to the old tried and tested blends of cumin+coriander+salt that are ubiquitous within the industry, Check out his blog on the Science of Ingredient Pairing to find out more.
Please get in touch with question, views, comments - we love to hear from (and help!) people no matter where they are on the cooking journey!