Melbourne BBQ Festival

The Melbourne Barbecue Festival is all about meat, smoke, summer and good times in Melbourne, the culinary and events capital of Australia. The inaugural event will involve a delicious four-day program of classes, competitions and entertainment that culminates in a free barbecue food festival held at the Queen Victoria Market on Sunday 1 February 2015.

Inspired by the growing popularity of traditional southern style cuisine in Australia, the Festival is modeled after the many successful American barbecue festivals staged annually across the United States and will be a celebration of local produce and the great Australian tradition of summer barbecues!

 Supported by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), the world’s largest organisation of barbecue enthusiasts (with over 19,000 members and 450 barbecue contests sanctioned annually) the Melbourne Barbecue Festival will be the first event at which the KCBS will sanction a contest in the southern hemisphere. The festival will also feature:

  • barbecue cooking classes by local and international barbecue experts;
  • equipment exhibitors showcasing the latest BBQ products on the market; and
  • live entertainment

The winner of the Melbourne Barbecue Festival cook-off will be invited to represent Australia at prestigious and internationally renowned barbecue contests in the United States including the prestigious KCBS-run Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue and the American Royal World Series of Barbecue.

The KCBS will be holding barbecue-cooking classes, led by multi-award winning pit-master Jim Johnson, and KCBS certified barbecue-judging classes, where students will be taught the finer points of what to look for in award-winning barbecue.  Australian food commentator, Bob Hart will add a touch of local flavor to the festival, hosting his Australian Barbecue Academy classes.

Melbourne Barbecue Festival organisers, Matt and Margaret Vitale of Southside Smokers are local foodies and barbecue enthusiasts, who after winning a barbecue competition held in conjunction with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival last year, were invited  to compete at the prestigious 25th Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg Tennessee (The Jack) . Competing against the world’s best barbecue cooks, they finished in 10th in the “Chef’s Choice” category and made strong connections with key figures at the KCBS, who expressed a keen desire to visit Melbourne to sanction a barbecue competition.

“There are so many great barbecue events throughout the United States, and increasingly in Europe as well, where masses of people get together to share recipes, cooking techniques and a love of barbecue and outdoor cooking. Although the Melbourne Barbecue Festival is inspired by some of these overseas events, being at the Queen Victoria Market, and showcasing our local produce will give it a real Melbourne feel” says Margaret Vitale.

Each element of the Melbourne Barbecue Festival has been designed to be fully integrated with the Queen Victoria Market and its traders, including offering butchers at the market an accreditation for participating in a KCBS barbecue familiarization course. Designed to overcome the differences in terminology for the particular cuts used in traditional barbecue, butchers completing the course will get acquainted with “Boston butts”, “full packers” and “St Louis cut ribs”.

The inaugural Melbourne Barbecue Festival will run from Thursday 29 January to Sunday 1 February 2015. Go to for the full festival program.