Member in Focus: Marcus Bawdon
04 September 2019
Each month, newsletter editor Kristen Frederickson meets a Guild member with a story to tell. This month: new Guild member Marcus Bawdon based in, as he describes it, ‘deepest darkest Devon’, and author of the recently published BBQ book Food and Fire.
Please give us a little insight into your life and career.
I love to cook outdoors, for me there is nothing better than food cooked with real fire and smoke. The taste of well-cooked food outdoors is hard to beat. I’ve worked hard to promote outdoor cooking in all its forms. I feel that with a little education and encouragement, people can cook wonderful food in their own garden. A lot of what I do, websites, videos, social media, and my Food and Fire book are there to add fuel to the embers of the UK BBQ scene.
How long have you been a member of the Guild, and how did you come to join?
I only joined up this summer, I’d always wanted to join, but wanted to wait until my Food and Fire book was out. I’d been speaking to the lovely Genevieve Taylor about joining, so it was great timing.
Where are you based, and does your location influence your work?
I’m based in deepest darkest Devon, living in a rural location allows me to cook outdoors year-round without bothering neighbours. I’ve got a lovely big outdoor kitchen and cooking studio that I come up with my recipes in, this has allowed me to easily cook outdoors year-round.
Your profile as a food writer, demonstrator and cook has carved out a very specific role for you, as a specialist in meat and barbecue. How did you come to choose that specialisation, and what led you to decide that rather than being more of a generalist (as many of us are), you’d like to address one particular area of the food world?
Thanks, I guess it is pretty specific, and very funny seeing that I was a vegetarian for 14 years...It all started with a wood fired oven I built, and people liked my photos and writing so suggested I started a blog countrywoodsmoke.com, and I guess this was my journey back into eating meat again. At that time there weren’t many male food bloggers, and I guess I saw it as a niche that nobody else had really explored. I also felt there was a real opportunity to try to do something positive, BBQ in the UK has always suffered a bad press, so hopefully I’ve had a part in being able to get more people to BBQ better.
How has being a member of the Guild been helpful to you, or influential for you, if it has?
It definitely has been influential, even in my short time, to be able to bounce ideas off other food-minded folk, feeling able to discuss my frustrations and hopes since getting my book out has made me realise I’m not alone.
Is your family involved in the development of your work, and if so, how? For example, do you include anecdotes about your life in your writing?
They are my chief recipe testers, and my inspiration, I also gave each of my children a copy of Food and Fire, as they recognise that it was a period of family meals that went into development of the book.
How was the world of food writing changed since you entered the field?
I’ve always been on the periphery of food writing really, and have only ever really just done my own thing, so it’s hard for me to gauge. I guess social media has made things easier in some ways, but it also has allowed more people to engage with food visually; instagrammable food is great on a shallow level. But I always think there will be a place for a deeper expression of food with words, and so I feel food writing is more important than ever.