Sarah Eats: BBQ Academy at Hillmount Garden Centre

Burnt sausages. Burnt burgers. Burnt fingers.

I suspect this would be the extent of my BBQ cooking skills if I were to light up a grill. Well, until I attended Belfast Barbeque Academy at Hillmount Garden Centre. Now, I won’t be burning anything.  Instead, I’ll be cooking perfect (if a little mustardy) burgers while lecturing the person unfortunate enough to be standing beside me on the differences between direct and indirect cooking.

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

I was invited to try a session with Laura making me instantly worried. She’s the food blogger and one with very high standards.  Her Instagram feed is full of succulent dishes cooked to perfection while I am not exactly known for my food presentation skills. I’m good at eating.

After a warm welcome by Natalie and her team, it was time to get straight into prep work. Laura and I were very fortunate to be joined by a stag party. So, we became honorary stags for the duration.

The three-hour class consists of preparing and cooking three courses, all on the BBQ. To make the class flow better, all the ingredients were sorted and prepared into portions of us.

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

The first course was chicken with salsa. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I like my salsa (usually on nachos), so it was a pleasure to make. It was also a pleasure to lecture Laura on how I like to make it.

Barbequing the chicken was the fun part. It was at this point I learned the difference between direct and indirect cooking. I won’t give all the secrets away, but chicken is to be cooked directly. Before this, we were shown the different barbeques and I managed to light a charcoal one alone.  We were advised to keep the lid closed while cooking (to retain heat).

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

Laura, showing the importance of keeping the lid on

Laura and I had finished our cooking, sat down and ate our starter before any of the men had even thought about sitting down to their scrumptious salsa (and chicken) . It seems they felt close to the stereotype; they had to keep checking the chicken every 30 seconds to make sure it was still there, losing heat and adding cooking time.

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

After the boys finished their starters, it was time to make the burgers.  Again, the ingredients were laid out. This time, a tub of mustard was with everything else giving you free reign to use as much or as little in your burger. I took the waste not, want not approach and put it all in.

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

Spot the difference

The burgers were glazed with a bourbon sauce prepped earlier in the morning. Again, the girls were the first to cook their burgers. I was tasked with flipping the burgers and failed miserably on Laura’s. It may or may not have crumbled into three pieces. She clearly didn’t use enough mustard.

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

Dessert was a stuffed banana. I don’t like bananas. So, naturally I stuffed the banana with as much caramel, biscuits, marshmallows and chocolates as I could. Then when it came to eating them, I left the banana. What can I say; the inner 6-year-old came out in me.

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

The event finished soon after and we walked away happily knowing someone else was going to be doing the dishes but also with a vast array of barbequing knowledge that I would not have gained otherwise.

Oh, and I left with a MASSIVE bag of marshmallows that’s helping to feed my hot chocolate addiction…

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre

As always, Laura took the prettier photos. I’m in charge of the dodgy selfies…

Practical Information

The Weber Belfast Barbequing Academy hosts a range of courses from those who want a small taster session so those who want to specialise in cooking certain dishes on the grill.

56 Upper Braniel Road, Gilnahirk, Belfast, BT5 7TX

Telephone: 028 9044 8213


Price: £20 – £99

belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre belfast barbeque academy hillmount garden centre


Sarah Explores: Race to the End of the Earth

“I am just going outside and I may be some time.”

These are the infamous last words in the final diary entry of Captain Lawrence Oates before walking into an Antarctic storm in the hope of saving his fellow explorers.

race to the end of the earth titanic elfast

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Sarah Eats: Taphouse, Enniskillen

(For some time, I have wanted to give more in-depth reviews of where I eat and spend my time and so, ‘Sarah Eats’ has arrived.  Everywhere I write about is somewhere I personally recommend and enjoyed spending time there.)

It’s always exciting and a cause for conversation, when a new restaurant opens in your local area, or when an existing one is refurbished.

Taphouse is Enniskillen’s newest gastro pub. Previously, Squires, it was well loved for classic dishes and its ‘just out of town with great space for parking’ location.

taphouse enniskillen gastro pub

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4 alternative museums in New York City

Do you have that one place that you travelled to and fell in love with? A place that sweeps you off your feet that you keep returning to again and again?

For me, that place is New York City. It’s difficult to believe that I once tried to fit the city into one night five years ago thinking I would never get the opportunity again.

new york transit museum brooklyn

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Anxiety and adrenaline: My Euros trip to France

Will Grigg’s on fire; your defence is terrified.

Green and white army. Green and white army.

Everywhere we go…

If you haven’t heard these chants (especially the first one) then you have definitely been off the grid recently.  The words of these songs and others amounted to 75% of my speech for the time I was in France at the Euros.

euros 2016 france nice

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