To The Future & Beyond: Live-Fire Cooking in 2018

It’s often a case of what next, where’s this going, what’s coming up, where should we go?
It’s always been like this in greater and lesser degrees, and the future though it’s daunting and exciting in equal and paradoxically variable measures, is often informed by the past.

So I look forward and into to an events calendar this year that’s on the “Oh good god, really?” side of daunting & exciting.  But as I’m happy to inform people, this ‘Live-Fire cooking” wave we ride, one that’s getting stronger and wider is part-of, not an exception to the canon of global cooking. It’s much more like cooking in the way we recognise, than say when the microwave oven was introduced. That was a leap into the new, but now look around or more like listen to the “ping” in near every household.

I’m not expecting our cooking with Full-Fat Fire to be as ubiquitous, but it’s spreading (see what I did there) it’s becoming cultural over fad, and for that I’m grateful. But it’s also practical in a greater way and by scale, I try to imagine an event like Meatopia, Wilderness and the oldest food related event, the Ludlow Food Festival without it now. It wouldn’t happen or be anywhere near the same.

Some places we offer to set a fire are met with a battery of Health & Safety questions and much as I’m good with health and great with safe, I see a fair bit of primal fear in the eyes of the questioning party I’m tasked with explain our vision to. When we say fire I’m thinking a few pans and a grill area, whereas the other person may be visioning a seaside town recreation ground with 30 foot of flames licking off a pallet and old mattress bonfire, though they do visibly relax when I talk them down from their fears and assure them it’ll be ok, it’s food were cooking , not an incinerator or a forge we’re recreating.

I put it down to experience and fire is an elemental we should treat with great respect, less it catches us out and all hell can ensue.
So I accept the spectacle of the fire is both arresting and compelling and the first thought we have is normal, in that “I don’t want to burn the house down” isn’t a bad response, in fact it’s the response I’d suggest we heed. But, but but…once we understand the parameters and contain the dangers to a greater extent, then we can play with fire and have fun with it.

However, it’s with time and experience that we learn to be relaxed within the presence of fire, it has a compelling energy. I’m trying to remember the last time I burnt myself on a fire. I’ve scorched myself on the oven indoors and I still have the scars from a commercial charcoal oven (yeah you Josper), but an actual fire? I can’t remember, though I did loose a few hairs of my arms tending the bigger fire at Wilderness, but that’s hair and it grows back.

In the bigger picture I’m wonder if all the digitised experiences we get are leaving us a little lacking, so the real fire at home, in the garden, or in a grill or fire-pit at an event is some kind of medicine for the weary spirit, or maybe is it just excitement at the thought of some controlled jeopardy, a perception of danger.

Or simply the chance that it may well burn your food when you’re not paying attention, though with a little skill and some practice it can be tamed to be both delicious and mesmerising. But remember, like the sea it is to be respected, drop your guard and it may well lick you to remind you of its power.

And lastly, if you can visit WildernessMeatopia, River Cottage Food FairRiver Cottage Festival Ludlow Food Festival, The Good Feed in Manchester, The Good Life Experience (and I’m sure I’ve missed a few) then you can get to see hands on what we do, come and put an ear towards our talks and we’re often to be found close to the fire, often with food to share.

See you somewhere during the coming season.

And as Buzz Lightyear says “To the future and beyond”


P.s. I’ve created an Instagram account FutureFireCollective for likeminded chefs, fire makers and anyone with a soul for the flames. There’s no membership as such and all are welcome, please do join in and follow, but come with good spirit and share that with others.