Just when you thought Meatstock could not get any more meatier, this year punters will be lucky enough to soak up more juicy goodness with six new special guests attending the meat extravaganza that are such barbecue experts, their life is practically a marinade.

Already announced for Auckland festival is Australian Jess Pryles who found her spiritual home in Austin, Texas USA where she now resides. After many years of being intimidated by even the word meat, Pryles thought it was about time to invest herself in some carnivore education. Pryles then spent years in the world of meat; practicing cooking methods, discovering the best cuts and how to prepare them as well as learning the difference between aged meats, grass fed, grain fed and more. Pryles even attended courses in meat science at University, during these years, Pryles fell in love with the ‘Low’n’slow’ Texas method. From there, Pryles co-founded the Australasian Barbecue Alliance and has written her very own meat-inspired cookbook ‘Hardcore Carnivore’.

Jess Pryles

Two time world champion pitmaster Charlie Mckenna will also be hitting Auckland this year to run demonstrations for punters at Meatstock. This fiery chef will bring his award-winning competition barbecue and timeless Southern cooking technique to Auckland. McKenna has won numerous awards in the competition barbecue circuit including two first place wins at Memphis – which is widely regarded as the world championship of barbecue. McKenna focused on his barbecue roots opening Lillie’s Q (named after his South Carolinian grandmother, Lillie, and his father, Quito) and expanding the business further across the country. Their speciality is slow smoking pork shoulder, tri tip, baby back ribs, hot links and chicken in custom-built smokers over peach wood.

Charlie McKenna

Now put your hands together for special guest Diva Q (aka Danielle Bennett) who lives by her own trademark ‘Life is too short for bad BBQ!’. Certified barbecue and grilling expert, pitmaster, celebrated TV Host, barbecue teacher, best selling author and former world grilling champion, Diva Q’s resume definitely gives her the top dog spot when it comes to the meaty land. Not only is Diva Q well respected in the world of ribs and rubs but is also an industry leader with over 400 awards and has taught over 10,000+ students about barbecue. This influential woman is an expert barbecue judge on the Food network, BBQ Pitmasters, The Travel Channel America Grills and soon to be Meatstock Auckland.

Diva Q

Bringing the meat alongside these three smokin’ pitmasters is Sean Connolly whose passion for quality meat and barbecue is unwavering. It is this discovery that led him to open award winning restaurant ‘The Grill’ by Sean Connolly at SKYCITY Auckland in 2011. Also hosting his very own TV show ‘Sean’s Kitchen’, Sean was able to meet and collaborate with Texas’s best barbecue specialists. During his time in Austin, he researched everything from traditional southern cuisine to Texas BBQ. After working alongside some of Texas’ best, Sean spread his barbecue wings to many different events across ANZ receiving much praise and plenty of awards for his efforts in barbecue. Most recently, ‘The Grill’ by Sean Connolly, received two Hats at the prestigious Cuisine Good Food Awards in 2018.

Sean Connolly (centre).

Meatstock will also be welcoming homegrown favourites Ants Franklin and Jared Macdonald plus Australian Big Willy, as flaming hot barbecue guests to run demonstrations for the public. The 18 year highly experienced chef Ants Franklin will be showcasing his take on the American ‘Low n Slow’ method where his traditional cooking roots stem from preparing meat and food over hot rocks (Umu). Macdonald has barbecued over 30 tonnes of ribs, butts, wings and briskets after finding his love and passion in South Carolina. From creating barbecue teams to competing at all major events at ANZ, he is highly experienced when it comes to barbecue. Last but definitely not least, Big Willy will also be hitting the Meatstock stage, also known as Michael Willcocks, he founded one of the first competitive barbecue teams in Australia, Bad Ass BBQ. This team has taken on world stages like ‘Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational’ and are looking to scoop up more trophies this year.

Tickets are still available, but punters best you hurry as there are only so many ribs and brisket to go around at this years Meatstock Auckland.

L to R: Ants Franklin, Jared Macdonald, Big Willy


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