London Barbecue School, SE15 3SN www.londonbarbecueschool.co.uk
There are a few things you expect to find when you go to Peckham. Crop-top wearing, top-knot sporting teenagers swigging tinnies in the queue for Bussey building, sure. That you’ve got slightly soggy shoes with the faint whiff of fish after sloshing through the post-market puddles around Rye Lane, natch. A BBQ school tucked away round the back of a car park dedicated to the art of the grill, not so much.
‘Walk past the blue shipping containers’ is never the most auspicious set of directions to receive when you’ve been offered a BBQ Masterclass, especially when it’s chucking it down and you decided that wearing a floor-length silk skirt was a good idea. But, even after playing hide-and-seek in a Peckham carpark – dragging half the downpour (as well as about acre of mud) along with me – I found out that this sequestered little corner of south east London is well worth a visit.
Beyond that blue shipping container, and a world away from Peckham Rye Station, is a little enclave of BBQ enthusiasts who are determined to teach eager students all about real flame-grilled food. Created and founded by the bright bods behind School of Food, The London BBQ School offers private and group cookery classes in the great british outdoors on their own array of Kamado Joe and Big Green Egg ceramic barbecues.
And recently they’ve teamed up with another bright spark, Pritesh Mody, a spice aficionado and the man behind World of Zing, to turn up the heat on a few select occasions throughout summer, which is why I was there: to put my tastebuds to the test with a chilli-orientated cooking class.
I’ve never been shy of trying spice, my palate, however, often disagrees with my head’s determination to test my tolerance (one incident in Goa where I was reduced to washing my prawns in mineral water while a row of waiters pointed and laughed at me springs to mind), but I’ve always been a believer that spice should mean flavour, not all-out heat – a notion that Mody shares with me and aims to demonstrate with these intimate group classes and tasting sessions.
As well as an in-depth introduction to a host of rare breed chillis, each with distinctive flavours and intensities, you’ll get a chance to learn how to turn these dried little firecrackers into sauces, marinades and dips that the chaps at the BBQ school will smother on juicy chicken wings for you to feast on throughout the evening.
It all started mildly, with a smoky chipotle rubbed set of chicken wings and slowly escalated from there, until, drunk on the pulse of fire dancing around my tastebuds and the rather good glug of World of Zing’s Pink Pigeon Spiced Rum Punch that I was handed on the way in, I was goading Mody to release the big guns: the nagas. The result was a surprisingly delicious naga ketchup that was as tangy as it was blisteringly spicy, which neatly proved the whole point of the evening: if you think you don’t like spicy food, you should come here to really put that theory to the test, because you might be surprised at quite how delicious proper chillis can be.
The BBQ & Chilli workshops run monthly and tickets include barbecued nibbles; a glass of World of Zing’s Pink Pigeon Spiced Rum Punch and a free pack of World of Zing rare chillies to take home.
The next class is scheduled for Wednesday 23rd September 7.00pm – 8.30pm (£20 per person), but, if you want to put your own tastebuds to the test and turn up the heat on this gloomy British summer now, why not try one of The World of Zing’s exclusive chilli recipes below.
Chipotle Dry Rub – Rich and Smoky
2 Chipotle Meco Chilli
1⁄2 Pasilla Chilli
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp sea salt
Blitz to powder.
Rub over chicken, pork, beef or even potatoes and enjoy!
Aji Amarillo & Habanero Chilli Ketchup – Cheats recipe for an ultra-fruity Ketchup
250ml shop-bought ketchup
3 Aji Amarillo Chillies (rehydrated in hot water for around 20 minutes)
1 Habanero Chilli (rehydrated in hot water for around 20 minutes)
25ml Pineapple juice
Juice from 1⁄2 a lime
Pinch of salt
1 tsp of garlic puree/powder
Blitz in a blender until you’ve got a smooth sauce. Splash of hot water if it’s a little too thick