The Ultimate Barbecue Collaboration: Tom Degroote and Beka Cookware
Hello there, fellow meat enthusiasts! Today, we're diving into a sizzling adventure with the man who knows everything about playing with fire and meat – Tom Degroote! Let's get to know him personally and unravel the secrets behind his fiery love affair with cooking and food.
Let’s meet! Who is Tom?
We'd like to get to know you better, would you mind introducing yourself?
For about a decade now, I've been working for the renowned Belgian brand Dierendonk. There, I’m the bridge between our chefs and the production team. I advise our chefs on which cuts of meat and breeds shine best during different times of the year. In collaboration, I organize events, both nationally and internationally, as well as workshops where I love to share my passion for cooking.
I'm also the proud ambassador of the famous Artist pan range from BEKA. This has a lot to do with my love for delicious food, especially barbecue and open-fire cooking. For years, I've specialized in this art form. From grilling to BBQing and everything in between.
Belgian meat enthusiasts will often see you playing with fire and meat on TV. You're a true fire and meat lover, we might say.
What do you appreciate most when you go barbecue with friends?
For me, barbecuing is all about the good times with friends. Nothing beats the joy of enjoying delicious food, refreshing drinks, and unforgettable laughter together. Fortunately, I have the privilege of having friends who are just as skilled in the kitchen and at the barbecue as I am. Standing behind the grill together, coming up with creative side dishes, and embarking on culinary adventures feels like a true celebration. Equally, I enjoy a simple sausage or burger on the barbecue after a day at the beach. So, for me, it's all about enjoying time with friends.
Which piece of meat do you prefer?
For me personally, a beautifully aged ribeye steak from an old dairy cow is absolutely fantastic. These animals have calved multiple times, and the intramuscular fat running through the meat provides a delightful, nutty flavor.
When I think about "low & slow" dishes, I can really appreciate an excellent rack of ribs. We're all familiar with the baby back ribs, which you can find at the market. But a true rack of ribs, the "Saint-Louis-cut," prepared using the 3-2-1 method, tantalizes my taste buds! With the 3-2-1 method: 3 hours of slow cooking, 2 hours wrapped in aluminium foil, and 1 hour exposed on the grill. The result? An amazing rib where the meat falls off the bone. Truly top-notch.
Of course, we mustn't forget about fish. As an example, we recently prepared a delicious turbot on the barbecue at a friend's place.
While it's difficult to choose, there are a few favourites that truly stand out.
We recently launched our Artist pan, a true meat pan that can be used on all stovetops and even on the barbecue.
The pan won the Red Dot award in 2022, and in the meantime, you've become a proud ambassador. What was your initial reaction upon discovering the Artist pan?
I was pleasantly surprised. The design of the pan caught my eye immediately, it's beautifully crafted. But to be honest, I remained a bit sceptical and wanted to test the pan myself first. Something can look so great at first glance, but the experience might differ from what you expect. After testing it, though, I quickly realized that the quality was just as fantastic.
Which tests convinced you to become an ambassador for our Artist pan?
I tried the pan on various heat sources, and what immediately stood out was the ability to create a beautiful crust. That's one of the reasons why I'm so proud to be the face of the Artist pan. I'm not saying this because it's expected of me; I also had the pan tested by various other chefs, and they were genuinely enthusiastic as well. I received spontaneous reactions like, 'Wow, this pan gives your meat a beautiful sear... Where did you get it from?'
What you have, for example, with a ribeye steak is the beautiful Maillard effect. What does that mean, actually? It's the coagulation of proteins, resulting in a sort of caramelization and a beautiful crust. And that effect really shines through in that pan, making it truly magnificent!
How have you experienced the pan so far? Do you mostly use it on your stovetop, on a BBQ, or over open fire?
With the help of this pan, I achieve excellent results on every type of heat source. On weekdays, I prefer induction for cooking. What's truly remarkable and undoubtedly a significant advantage is the fact that this pan is suitable for use on any heat source. Furthermore, it's evident that the pan is exceptionally stable and maintains its shape, even with intensive use. You can truly rely on the sturdiness and durability of the Artist pan.
BBQ Hacks from Tom Degroote Himself
During the program "Open Fire" on Njam TV, we often see you preparing slow and low-cooked dishes over an open fire.
Do you have tips for someone who has never cooked over an open fire and wants to successfully slow-cook?
Having good control over the temperature of your barbecue is essential. For low & slow cooking, I mostly work with my Bastard, a kamado grill. I set it to 110°C (230°F), and I maintain that temperature throughout the entire cooking process. You can do something similar in your oven, but not on a regular grill or open fire, as it's impossible to maintain a consistent temperature.
For the discerning meat lovers among us: Can you explain when and why using a pan adds value to barbecue cooking?
A situation where using a pan on a barbecue truly demonstrates its value is when we want to experiment with refined preparations for our dishes. Think, for example, of subtly coating vegetables for delightful texture and flavor. Recently, I perfectly crisped mushrooms over an open fire, or I could nicely glaze my carrots. With my pan on the barbecue, I can achieve such culinary creations. This aligns with my aim to have everything at hand while cooking, without having to constantly run back and forth to the kitchen.
Let's talk marinades: according to you, which ingredients and flavor enhancers are most suitable for marinades?
Honestly, I rarely use marinades for high-quality cuts of meat, like ribeye or T-bone steaks. When you start with a high-quality product, a marinade is usually unnecessary.
However, for low & slow cooking, I do use marinades. This makes the difference in, for example, a dry rub where I mix basic ingredients like fleur de sel, smoked paprika, brown sugar, and smoked fennel seeds. This is more of a seasoning mix to rub the meat with and add extra flavor. This works well for ribs, pulled pork, brisket – cheaper, tougher cuts of meat. During the long barbecue process, the meat becomes more tender, absorbing the flavor of the barbecue and the rub, while the sugar adds caramelization.
On the other hand, we also have wet marinades. These are often used to tenderize the meat and typically contain something acidic like vinegar or yogurt. This is common with chicken. We apply a wet marinade to make the meat more tender.
A question many grillmasters ask themselves: how can I determine when the right moment is to put my meat on the barbecue?
The essence lies in creating different zones, namely a cold zone and a hot zone. This forms the core of effective barbecuing. If you want to grill directly, a very high temperature is required. It's better to wait a little longer than to start too soon. It's also crucial that the coals are really white-hot and glowing, as that provides the right amount of heat.
After a good BBQ session, we also crave summer desserts. Would you also prepare your dessert over open fire or on a BBQ?
Absolutely! I'm definitely a fan of preparing desserts over open fire or on the barbecue. For instance, fruits can be excellently prepared on the barbecue. Recently, I enjoyed grilled peaches with stracciatella – the creamy inside of burrata – enriched with a touch of lime juice, honey, and fleur de sel. By adding grilled peaches and strawberries, along with a hint of tarragon, a beautiful dessert emerges. For a perfect finishing touch, I add a caramelized nut or something crispy.
Let yourself be inspired by Tom Degroote to cook with passion and fire, and share meaningful moments around the grill. Experiment with flavors, savor delicious food, and create lasting memories with friends and family.