After nearly a decade and a half of constant use, it was with a heavy heart that at the end of this accursed summer I retired my trusty and now very rusty charcoal BBQ. Night after night of white hot coals had eroded The bottom of the barrel to a wafer thin bit of carbon. Another couple of grill sessions and I could easily see the whole burning payload dropping through the bottom and setting our back yard alight… And so, it was time to say goodbye.
Now losing a BBQ may not seem like such a big deal, but this one was special in two ways. First, it wasn’t some fancy propane job that started with the touch of a button, it was a whole process to get it going involving live fire and a chimney starter and the dangerous but oh-so-exciting business of getting the hot coals into the barrel without immolating myself. Second, my buddy Jess gifted me this BBQ, and to understand why that’s such a big thing you gotta know Jess.
I met Jess in culinary school during the early 2000s. Jeez, of our couple of cohorts there aren’t may of us still in the industry… Jess, me, Elizabeth, Steph… that might be it. Even just starting out Jess was one of the most passionite and interesting guys to talk shop with. Later we worked in pubs together and shared some crazy times. Lots of after shift beers and great stories were shared. I love the guy, and I felt that every steak and vegetable kabab that hit this grill was somehow infused with a dash of this love and a sprinkling of his inate culinary ingeniousness.
Shortly after my wife and I moved to CR Jess ended up moving to Van and through some coincedence that to this day makes me believe that life is my own personal simulation moved in with my very old buddy Nick who I’ve known since childhood back in Ontario. The two of them went on to lead the charge in Van for authentic southern BBQ at the (then fledgling) Memphis Blues BBQ House Co.
So yeah, this little BBQ had some serious pedigree.
Jess is now a podcaster and radio personality on winchestertoday.co.uk and is really worth a listen not just because of his dulcet tones but his quick, irreverent wit and pop-culture riddled anecdotes. He also has flawless taste in all the music you’ve probably never heard.
As for the BBQ: It was a really great little piece of equipment and very unique way to cook. I loved the slow ritual of it, pinning my weekend evenings to a more subdued introspective and food-focused pace. I’d just lean back in my BBQ chair and watch the yellow trembling aspen leaves flutter while my food slowly melted to perfect tenderness… sometimes. I don’t miss running around to all the neighbors to convince them not to call the fire department.
It will become a proud planter outside our new house.