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10 new BBQ trends in 2020 by Steven Raichlen

BBQ trends 2020

World BBQ expert Steven Raichlen has long been a strong friend of ours here at House of BBQ Experts. Our founder Max Lavoie says Raichlen is a mentor for him, and some have even called Lavoie “The Next Steven Raichlen”. All this to say: we think Raichlen is the a BBQ legend and many others around the world share our opinion after seeing his TV shows, books and more. So when Raichlen talks, we listen. And now Raichlen is talking about is BBQ trends 2020.

Recently Raichlen took to his own website to share his BBQ trend predictions for 2020, and we found these BBQ trends 2020 to be spot on!


BBQ Trends 2020


1. American BBQ goes global


This one shouldn’t surprise anyone, even though it’s true. Even for Canadians, it does feel that if you really want authentic American BBQ, you need to actually go to the United States. So why haven’t we seemed to replicate this widespread? It seems inevitable.


“Last June, I had the good fortune to run a mini Barbecue University at a cooking school/store called Barbecue Paradise in Turin, Italy. I couldn’t believe how many of my students competed in American-style barbecue competitions and have opened American-style barbecue restaurants and catering companies across Italy,” said Raichlen.


2. Meatless meat


The meatless revolution is taking shape, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. But the good thing for grillers is that meatless patties, like the Impossible Burger, go best with a sweet BBQ! Being able to offer your guests both meat and meatless options at your next BBQ party will only make you a better host.

Raichlen says these meatless burgers enjoy enormous popularity among millennials—and an American population concerned about healthy eating and the health of the planet.

“And they’re actually good, with a meaty, umami rich-flavor that compares favorably to a fast food patty. What’s next? Meatless meatballs and meatloaf? Meatless steak? Actually, all three are in development, as are plant-based seafood alternatives,” writes Raichlen.


3. Pellet grills proliferate


Have you seen the new Weber SmokeFire? It’s pretty bad-ass. It was only a matter of time before one of the godfathers of barbecue came out with a premium pellet grill. And Weber isn’t the only brand thinking this way.

It used to be that pellet grills were cult cookers, used by a tiny segment of the barbecue community, wrote Raichlen. Not anymore.

“Performance has improved, too. You can now control your Green Mountain pellet grill from your smartphone. Other pellet grills, like Memphis Pellet Grills, have installed sear stations, overcoming the traditional shortcoming of pellet grills—their actual ability to grill at higher temperatures. Wi-fi connectivity for closely monitoring cook sessions is now common as well,” he said.


4. Charcoal returns


Did you know 64 percent of Americans are gas grillers? It seems ever since the gas grill came out in 1950, the popularity of gas as a source of fuel has been greater than charcoal. But there’s still so many staunch charcoal fans who swear there is no greater grilling pleasure!

Charcoal burns hotter and drier than most propane grills and allows you to do flavor-boosting techniques as smoking, smoke-roasting, and caveman grilling.

“But lately, there’s a move back to charcoal,” notes Raichlen. “You see it at restaurants, like Asador Etxebarri and Gastronomika in Spain’s Basque Country, in Barcelona’s Enigma, all of whom have installed impressive charcoal grill and ovens from European manufacturer Josper.”

“You see it in high-end charcoal grills, like the Fire Magic Legacy, and in multi-fuel barbecue grills, like the American Muscle Grill and Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill.”

5. Kamados go upscale


It was only a matter of time before Kamado grills would explode, wasn’t it? You can probably thank companies like Kamado Joe.

“Now, the super-premium grill manufacturer, Kalamazoo, has gotten into the act, launching a high design kamado called the Shokunin. Named for the Japanese word for “master” or “artisan,” the Shokunan is fabricated from stainless steel, not ceramic, and is supported by an attractive ipe wood frame. Multi-level grill grates accommodate barbecuing/smoking, smoke-roasting, and searing,” wrote Raichlen.


6. Vegan charcuterie


Popular films like “game-changers” have played a role in a growing cultural shift towards less meat consumption and more plant-based foods. More people are going vegetarian and vegan and that means there’s money to be made in the food industry (and the BBQ industry!).

For Raichlen, that includes upscale vegan charcuterie, or cured and smoked meats, once primarily derived from pork. In pork’s place is coming fruits and vegetable-based “meats”. Shiitake “bacon.” Radish “prosciutto.” Watermelon “ham.”

“Fancy Radish in Washington, D.C., for example, serves a stunning meatless charcuterie platter popular with vegans and carnivores alike. (Its sister restaurant, V Street in Philadelphia, pioneered a mushroom and seitan “cheesesteak” with rutabaga-based cheese “whiz” superior to many of the beef versions.)” wrote Raichlen.

“Jeremy Umansky of the decidedly meat-centric Larder delicatessen in Cleveland, serves koji-cured carrots and a killer burdock root snack sticks. Will Horowitz, who rocked the blogsphere with his watermelon ham and cantaloupe burger at his Manhattan restaurant, Duck’s Eatery, recently launched a carrot hotdog at the vegan fast food chain By Chloe.”

Look for more vegan cured and smoked “meats” in the coming year and coming decade, says Raichlen


7. Wagyu goes mainstream


What is wagyu, you ask? Wagyu is any of the four Japanese breeds of beef cattle. In several areas of Japan, Wagyu beef is shipped carrying area names. Some examples are Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef, Yonezawa beef, Mishima beef, Ōmi beef, and Sanda beef

It used to be that that America’s premier beef was Certified Angus Beef. CAB still enjoys great popularity and street cred, but there’s a new steer on the block, says Raichlen.

“Prized for its gentle disposition and the generous marbling of its meat, wagyu is a prince among steers, with lush-textured, buttery-rich tasting meat. Wagyu produces some of the world’s most richly marbled and exclusive meat, like Kobe beef and Saga from Japan.


8. Eco-friendly insulated coolers


Eco-friendly what, you say?!

“A lot of our specialty meats and seafoods arrive by mail order. I used to be distressed to no end by the Styrofoam coolers used for shipping,” noted Raichlen.

“These days, there’s a new cooler on the block, made from biodegradable cornstarch by a company called Green Cell; it’s completely eco-friendly… Recyclable? I buried one container in the garden. Another one I dissolved in the pool.”


9. Grills in super high-end restaurants


Could it be that the high-tech immersion circulators and sous vide machines that characterized so much restaurant cooking in the last decade are finally giving way to the most primal and best tool for cooking of all: the wood burning grill? It’s about time, writes Raichlen.

High-end fancy restaurants like SingleThread in Healdsburg, California, made a wood-burning grill the focal point of their kitchen. They recently received their third coveted Michelin star.

At San Francisco’s high-end steakhouse, Niku, the premier wood-burning grill company, Grillworks, is installing its grills in high-end restaurants from Los Angeles to Toronto to London.


10. Eat less meat (maybe), but eat better meat


Raichlen writes that cattle species like Gloucester Old Spot, Red Wattle, Ancient White Park and Plymouth Rock are endangered species threatened by changes in animal husbandry in the last 50 years.

“They are representative of the animals your great-grandparents might have raised—naturally bred, pasture fed, humanely treated,” he said.

“On the leading edge of the movement to restore these breeds to our tables is the Livestock Conservancy. Headquartered in Pittsboro, NC, the Conservancy was founded in 1977 and works to protect some 150 breeds of cattle, swine, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, etc. Heritage meats are different from those that are factory-farmed, offering superior flavor and texture. Yes, you’ll pay more for them per pound as they cost more to raise (and often take significantly longer to reach market weight), but reducing our consumption of animal products is better for us and for the biodiversity of the planet,” writes Raichlen.


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