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American BBQ Catching Fire Across the Pond

American BBQ Catching Fire Across the Pond

Smoking meat low and slow over indirect heat, coupling it with some cornbread, coleslaw, fried potatoes and an ice-cold beer might just be about the most American thing ever.

But lately barbecue as a cuisine has expanded way beyond the 50 United States, even jumping across the pond into European culture. Some adventurous Englishmen are forgoing the tea and crumpets and introducing British restaurantgoers to the awesomeness that is American BBQ.

Red’s True Barbecue, for example, might sound like it makes its home in the hills of Central Texas. In actuality, Red’s has eight locations across England, in cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, New Castle, Nottingham and London.

The first Red’s opened in Leeds in 2012 and the target is to open 20 within the next four years.

The company’s founders, James Douglas and Scott Munro, were recently featured in Forbes alongside Richard Branson’s Virgin as businesses that, as they grow, aim to keep the entrepreneurial spirit.

Red’s brand message is “Let there be meat” and employees prefer to be called “believers.”

Along with opening restaurants, Red’s employees are schooling English chefs with their blog, The Gospel, featuring educational pieces on how to smoke meat and the barbecue ribs bend test.

And let’s talk about this paradox: There’s a former steelworker named Mark Fairley who has launched his own traditional BBQ business in a bright yellow high school bus, serving 16-hour smoked pulled pork, six-hour smoked Texas-style belly ribs, chicken wings, burgers and BBQ chicken.

Is Fairley’s Old School BBQ cruising around some Rust Belt Revival City like Pittsburgh, Pa., or Detroit, Michigan? Nope. The traveling kitchen is operating successfully across Greater Manchester, England, and even popping up at a number of English festivals.

Mark Fairley's Old School BBQ
Mark Fairley’s Old School BBQ

Formerly a supervisor at a steel fabrication company, Fairley told the Manchester Evening News that he was an enthusiastic amateur cook for years before working with Business Finance Solutions to secure a £24,000 (about $30,000) start-up loan to launch the business.

After flying to the U.S. and importing the bus from Texas, Mark then used the funds to install a smoker, oven and large fridge as well as building an awning and counter to serve customers.

“I want to bring good quality low and slow BBQ to the people to show just how delicious slow cooked BBQ food is,” he said.