By Bill Jones a chef, author and food consultant based on Deerholme Farm.
We often like to think of grilling as a rustic and time honored tradition here in Canada. My childhood memories are filled with good times with the family in the backyard, on trip to the beach or camping in nature. When I left home and ventured into the world of adults (still easing slowly into that) I discovered the charcoal hibachi grill (great for the balcony or picnic table). The bbq was so simple it was something most men (even marginal cooks) could get behind. It likely harkens back to us squatting around a campfire roasting chunks of flesh and roots – satisfying work and always a small celebration of contributing to the family or tribe.
In Japan, every home used to have a recessed cooking pit called a irori that was used daily for cooking. Somewhere down the line as the population grew and people lived in increasingly smaller and tighter spaces, these functions moved to the restaurants of Japan and the results were elevated to a higher art form. These restaurants have evolved to the modern Yakitori House which often specialized in grilling food over special, even temperature charcoal called bincho-tan. This technique lends itself to cooking food very quickly – but it takes constant watchfulness to prepare food this way. The results are truly amazing and are one of Japan’s lesser known contributions to the world of great cooking.
In Spain, Argentina and the Cowichan Valley
You occasionally find this cooking exported to big cities around the world, but it rarely makes it to the outliers like the Cowichan Valley. Other cultures have taken on the artistry of grill raised to some kind of zen meditation, these include Spain (like the Michelin starred grilling temple Asadora Etxebari) and Argentina (Francis Mallman’s 1884) – but no one takes the obsessive pure track like the Japanese. In this spirit we are holding two events in June that will combine the art of the Japanese grill and the food of the Cowichan Valley. We love to merge these iconic global ideas with the wonderful raw materials of our region.
There will be a Japanese Grilling class on June 10th and a Japanese Country-Style Dinner on June 17th . Both are stellar ideas for celebration Fathers Day or just for expanding your horizons on what the bbq can accomplish when used as a creative tool.
More info at www.deerholme.com.