BBQ enthusiasts will have a chance to learn from the best of the best when American chef and restaurateur Charlie McKenna visits New Zealand next month.

A two-time world BBQ champion, McKenna is famous for his Lillie’s Q restaurants in Chicago and California, where his special brand of timeless Southern cooking has won critical praise and spawned the award-winning Lillie’s Q range of BBQ sauces, rubs, snacks and protein.

McKenna is heading to Auckland in February to attend meat and music festival Meatstock, and will share his expertise at a very special one-off BBQ masterclass at the popular Hallertau Brewery in Riverhead.

On Friday, February 15 from 6:00pm- 9:00pm, McKenna will detail the art of Southern cooking that he first learned from his grandmother, Lillie, during a three-hour course. As well as learning all about the tips and tricks that go into creating world-class BBQ cuisine, guests will also get an opportunity to create an authentic BBQ rub, ideal for elevating their own late-summer soirées.

Given McKenna’s BBQ pedigree, the masterclass truly is an opportunity to learn from the best.

Growing up in South Carolina where BBQ is a way of life, McKenna went on to study at New York’s Culinary Institute of America, before cooking under legendary chef Norman Van Aken in Florida. He also worked as a sous chef at two of Chicago’s four-star fine dining landmarks, Tru and Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel.

McKenna has also made a name for himself on the competitive BBQ circuit, taking two wins at Memphis in May, which is widely regarded as the world championships of BBQ.

In 2010, he went back to his BBQ roots and opened the first of four Lillie’s Q restaurants (named after his grandmother Lillie and his father Quito), delighting patrons with slow smoked pork shoulders, baby back ribs, hot links and chicken prepared in custom-built smokers.

He also began bottling the restaurants’ sauces and rubs, with the Lillie’s Q range now available in more than 7,000 stores around the world.

McKenna’s first trip to New Zealand will see him continue his mission to bring the evolution of Southern cuisine to the masses.

“I have been so impressed by the innovative, live fire grilling techniques coming out of New Zealand, that I knew I had to experience it myself. It’s an honour to bring my BBQ style to New Zealand, and I can’t wait to see what kind of new culinary inspirations the destination brings.”

Spaces for McKenna’s three-hour masterclass at Hallertau Brewery will be limited to just 30 people.

Tickets to the R18 event are available from Eventfinda and priced at $75 per person. Ticket includes the three-hour masterclass led by McKenna, a beer on arrival, tastings of signature dishes from Lillie’s Q, and a take home pack including the self-made BBQ rub and a bottle of Lillie’s Q sauce.

Those who miss out on the masterclass can still catch McKenna at Meatstock at the ASB Showgrounds over the weekend of February 16-17, where he will be attending as a judge and running demonstrations. Tickets for that event are available from

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