Alex Head is a chef and shares her tips on hosting great barbecues that are suitable for everyone.
It is the best time of year to grill up a barbecue, with hot weather predicted across the UK.
NationalWorld spoke to catering expert Alex Head to find out the dos and don’ts for hosting the perfect BBQ this summer.
Alex Head, a caterer expert, founded Social Pantry back in 2011.
Alex launched Social Pantry as a way to bring people together and share unforgettable food experiences. Social Pantry, a London-based catering business, focuses on sustainability and being eco-friendly.
It invests in zero-waste initiatives. The menus emphasize root and flower and go from nose to tail. Famous names like Rihanna and Louis Vuitton have been served by them, including David Attenborough, HRH Prince Of Wales, David Attenborough, David Attenborough, Louis Vuitton, and HRH Prince William.
Is there a best manner to treat guests who are attending a BBQ party?
When communication about food goes sour, it can cause awkwardness for guests and hosts.
Alex recommends throwing ‘potluck’Style BBQs allow you to invite your guests to make their own food if necessary.
The catering specialist encourages people to talk about their food to help normalize the stigma.
She declared: “We need to normalise having conversations about dietary requirements and preferences and remove the stigma around them.
“It is a really important part of inclusivity and accessibility when it comes to social gatherings of all kinds.
“I’d recommend asking all of your guests, as standard, if they have any dietary requirements.
“Equally I don’t think guests should be embarrassed to voice their dietary needs to their host.”
Alex stated that it was important to understand that not all dishes are appropriate for everyone and that there should be plenty of food on the table.
Vegetarian and vegan cooking
Alex stated that there is sometimes still stigma surrounding non-meat food at barbecues.
“There is still a misconception that vegetarian or vegan food exists in a world apart from ‘the rest of food’ whereas the reality is that so many of the foods and dishes we love are naturally plant focused, and it’s increasingly easy and accepted to omit meat, fish and dairy entirely or use a plant-based substitute.
“In fact, catering a plant-focused feast is often easier than including meat as there is less to worry about when it comes to cooking temperatures and food safety.
“Plus plant-focused foods is food that everyone can eat, so it is inherently more inclusive and streamlines the offering.”
Alex thinks that too many people place too much stress on their own to make it perfect for events like BBQs, and hosts need to relax.
“It is worth bearing in mind that whilst the food is an important part of a social experience, it’s not all there is to it,”Elle continued.
“The setting, styling, ambience and atmosphere you create will all enhance people’s enjoyment of the food.”
Why do more people choose to eat vegetarian or vegan food?
Around 7% of the UK’s population is now vegetarian and according to Finder.com, and a further 8.8 million people in the UK have pledged to switch to a plant based diet in 2022.
There are many things that can influence your diet, from your personal health to environmental concerns.
Alex stated: “There is overwhelming evidence that eating less meat is one of the best things each of us can do to help combat climate change.
“However, I think that the reason why people are making that decision now is that meat-free eating has become easier, more accepted and more accessible than ever.
“There has been an explosion in plant-based restaurants, chefs, celebrities, cookbooks and supermarket products which have transformed the image of plant-based eating.”
More people are getting involved in the sustainability movement because vegetarian and vegan diets no longer have to be considered a niche.
Expert in catering said it’s important to minimize stigmatization around diet restrictions.
For those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, here are some tips for hosting an outdoor barbecue this summer
Alex stated: “Start with great ingredients, beautiful salad leaves, fabulous olives, amazing bread, great olive oil, the best spices and spice blends you can get your hands on.
“Invest in dips, sauces and condiments that deliver maximal flavour with minimal fuss.
“You can find these in delis, supermarkets or even your favourite restaurant.
“Remember that veg-centric food is for everyone – not just vegetarians and vegans – so rather than catering a small amount separately for your plant-based guests, make enough for everyone so that you’re all eating the same.
“The huge range of plant-based alternatives in supermarkets such as Garden Gourmet provide direct swaps for meat and fish.”
Alex also suggests creating side dishes that are appealing to all tastes.
“Not only are they delicious and often people’s favourite part of the meal, having lots of vibrant, colourful dishes on the table conveys that sense of generous abundance that makes people feel relaxed about tucking in.
“By offering a range of choices, there is bound to be something for everyone.”
Are meatless alternatives good for BBQ?
A novice cook can find it difficult to prepare new dishes.
Alex is a chef and says the secret to successful plant-based options is seasoning.
“Just like with meat, start with the best quality produce you can afford.
“Seasonal produce that hasn’t had to travel far will contain higher amounts of nutrients and the chemical compounds that contain flavour.
“From there, marinating and seasoning are your best friend, adding flavour and fat will help to initiate ‘The Maillard Reaction’ – the chemical reaction that causes food to brown and develop that distinctive charred flavour.
“Serving temperature is key, keep things warm under recyclable foil or a tea towel.”
Alex’s go to choice for a BBQ is one of Garden Gourmet’s meat free burgers.
For a vegetarian barbecue, what foods should first-time cooks try?
Alex advises that you have a mix of vegetable and meat-free options.
“When burgers are called for, I like to grill Garden Gourmet plant-based burgers alongside marinated aubergine, celeriac or cauliflower steaks,”Alex stated.
“They can be served interchangeably or layered on top of each other in a bun with delicious condiments, salads and plant-based cheese.
“When introducing new plant-based options to the BBQ, remember everyone’s favourite condiments too.
“I make a brilliant homemade vegan garlic mayo using aquafaba in the place of eggs, and have switched to using maple syrup in the place of honey for a classic sweet and sticky mustard dressing.”
Alex offers a roast vegetable trick to wow the Crows for a special event.
“I prepare whole-burnt aubergines or whole BBQ cauliflower and nestle them amongst laish jewelled rice salads, pilaf and tabbouleh, which both look and taste amazing.
How to have a sustainable BBQ?
Alex recommends keeping sustainability in mind this summer. She said that having a plan for leftovers and asking guests to bring Tupperware can make a big difference when it comes to waste.
“You can also purchase and provide recyclable or compostable takeaway containers to avoid using excess single use foil or cling films,”Alex stated.
“Think about which dishes keep well and integrate them into your weekly menu.”
But it’s not all about the food – how you cook it is also important.
“Avoid single use plates and cutlery that are biodegradable so they can be composted.”
This recipe makes the best meatless burgers for summer barbecues
- Pack of 226g Garden Gourmet Sensational Burger¼ smallRed cabbage
- 1 cucumber
- 50g carrot, peeled. Finely shredded
- 1 lemon
- 50g lamb’s lettuce or any normal green lettuce
- 1 Tbsp Vegan Garlic or Spicy Mayonnaise
- Black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons reduced fat red pepper Hummus
First step:Red cabbage should be shredded and seasoned with lemon juice.
Step 2:Peel cucumbers using a peeler. Then season the slices with salt and lemon juice.
Third stepPut the bun halves on a baking sheet and toast them in a dry pan. Your preferred method of cooking the burgers is either a grill or a fryingpan.
Fourth step Add a small amount of red pepper Hummus to the bun bases. Add the red cabbage and lettuce to cover.
Step 5:Add the hamburgers to the top of the lettuce and garnish with cucumber ribbons, mayonnaise vegan and carrot. The bun lid should be placed.
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