BBQ season has arrived so we were thrilled when McCormick Foods Australia invited us to an American Pitmaster BBQ Class and dinner at the Willoughby Hotel! The class was held to launch their new American BBQ Grill Mates range. We attended with 30 other Sydney foodies to get a sneak peek at how these can be used in an American style cookout! Our pitmaster for the class was Eric from the BBQ School. He is a meat-loving Canadian expat, who really knew his way around the grill!  


 McCormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick American BBQ Grillmates

Eric kicked off the night by giving us a brief introduction to Southern American BBQ cuisine. His first tip was fat means flavour. Typical meats used here are ribs and brisket. These meats need a low and slow cook over indirect heat. There are three layers of flavour in an American BBQ: the rub, the smoke, and a robust BBQ sauce to top it off. Cooking low and slow over smoking wood results in a flavoursome meat that is so tender, it melts in your mouth.

McCormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick American BBQ Grillmates  

McCormick’s American BBQ Grill Mates add the smoky flavour of an American BBQ without all the fuss. You can choose from the regional flavours of Texas or Tennessee. There’s also a nice selection of spicy burger seasonings, marinades  and three very tasty BBQ sauces. You don't need to own a BBQ to use Grill Mates, oven instructions are on the pack and each sachet flavours up to a kilo of meat.

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It was a hands on class so while we were rubbing flavours into brisket and flipping burgers on the grill, Eric was sharing a mountain of BBQ knowledge and giving us lots of handy tips.

McCormick American BBQ Grillmatesrmick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick American BBQ Grillmatesormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick BBQ school

We were challenged to a salad invention test. Two teams negotiated their ingredients then went head to head in a battle to produce the tastiest salad bowl. This was a fun way to get some sides whipped up for a hungry crowd.

McCormick BBQ school Mccormick BBQ school McCormick BBQ school

We all gathered around to watch our pitmaster unwrap several parcels of brisket, ribs and pork that had been slowly cooking all day. Ooooh's and ahhhh's echoed from the class when he effortlessly sectioned the ribs and stacked them in a big delicious pile.  The pork was shredded to similar sighs, and then we all sat down to a big meaty dinner with some BBQ sauces and beers to match each dish.

McCormick American BBQ Grillmatesormick American BBQ Grillmates MC sauces McCormick BBQ school 

Huge planks of meat and big bowls of freshly made salad were laid along our tables - it was a southern BBQ feast! I coated tender ribs in Brown Sugar and Bourbon BBQ sauce, and then tried a few with the peppery Texas sauce. I could have eaten a whole tray full of those ribs on my own, but I also wanted to eat brisket (how good does it look) and burgers! Somehow we found room to share a delicious spicy cinnamon and chilli brownie with fresh berries and vanilla cream. Rounding off a great night we got to leave with plenty of new BBQ skills and a brimming hamper of McCormick American BBQ Grill Mates goodies to try out at home.

McCormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick BBQ school McCormick American BBQ Grillmates   

McCormick American BBQ Grillmates gmbr McCormick American BBQ Grillmates

The BBQ School gave us the confidence to be more adventurous with our BBQ dinners at home. We haven't had the chance to shop for brisket or ribs yet but we have been BBQ-ing like crazy with our samples. The first thing I cooked was a big BBQ dinner for the family! I used the bitey Grill Mates jalapeno cheddar seasoning in my rissoles and the smoky Tennessee rub with a big thick rump. Inspired by the salad invention test, I invented a few of my own.

McCormick Grillmates Sauces McCormick American BBQ Grillmates MC sauces


MC BBQ salad McCormick American BBQ Grillmates McCormick American BBQ Grillmates

The BBQ sauces have been the biggest hit at home. The Texas Smokehouse with its peppery punch is my favourite!  I always advocate scratch cooking so packet flavours do not appear in my pantry too often, but I will be sneaking a few rubs and marinades into my shopping trolley over summer, especially that Chipolte and Roasted Garlic Dry Marinade which we loved on BBQed chicken thighs!

MC BBQ chorizo corn and quinoa salad hersheys   

One of the great sides we made at our BBQ class was a healthy Quinoa and Roasted Corn Salad. This is a similar version I have been making at home which is too good not to share. I hope you try it at your next cookout! 


Roasted Corn and Quinoa Salad


300g quinoa

2 corn cobbs (BBQ, or roasted*) kernels removed

100g rocket roughly chopped

2 long chillies, sliced thinly

1 spanish onion chopped

1 spring onion thinly sliced

1 bunch of coriander, washed, leaves only, chopped

1 small handful mint leaves, washed and finely shredded

1 small punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 limes

150ml extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to season

 MC candqingredients


1. Prepare quinoa as per packet instructions, when done rinse under cold water to cool and stop cooking process

2. Place cooked quinoa, corn, rocket, onion, spring onion, coriander leaves and mint leaves into a bowl and mix well

3. Make a dressing for the salad by combining lime juice and olive oil in a sealable jar. Season with salt and pepper and shake well to combine.

4. Dress salad, mix well and garnish with the chilli.

corn and quinoa salad

*To roast corn preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Pull back the husks back from the corn but don’t remove them. Carefully remove the stringy silk and discard. Wash corn gently and pat dry. pull the husks back up and tie off the ends with string or a strip of folded foil. Place on the oven rack or tray and bake for thirty minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

MC Cornhusk corn and quinoa saladrn and quinoa salad corn and quinoa saladquinoa salad

If fresh corn is unavailable your salad will still be nice if you use well drained tinned corn.


Disclaimer: Our BBQ class and dinner were compliments of McCormick Foods Australia, opinions expressed in this post are our own.