The new summer food obsession: the barbecue fire pit
The new summer garden obsession - the barbecue fire pit - will take centre stage at the Taste food festival from tomorrow, with one Irish store already reporting that sales have rocketed by 300pc.
KSG chef and Fáilte Ireland food ambassador John Relihan, and fellow chefs Jack O'Keefe and James Keogh, will unveil the vast pit of fire for the four-day event at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin.
The Argentine-inspired equipment smokes and flavours meat, bringing out all the sumptuous juices and creating the "perfect family or social atmosphere", according to Mr Relihan.
And as we become passionate about cooking by the pit, we're bringing the "tribal" back to Ireland, added Mr Relihan, who was trained by Jamie Oliver and opened Holy Smoke in Cork in 2016.
The Kerry man said this form of cooking harks back to a time when "we fished at sea and brought our catch back to cook in a pit in the ground".
"It's amazing when people come together to eat, drink and talk, and also have fun," Mr Relihan said. "Festivals like Taste are a part of this, and this year we're adding the live fire and people will be drawn to it when they see it.
"We'll be using best produce, the best charcoal, cooking for a massive number and giving demos, showing people how to grill correctly and manage their charcoal."
Meanwhile, fire pits have been flying off the shelves in some Irish stores. Damien Kelly, a co-director at Outdoorfurniture.ie, based in Co Wicklow, said sales have surged 300pc since last year.
"Fire pit cooking is popular in Korea and China and it's catching on here in Ireland, too," Mr Kelly said.
"People love having a barbecue in the centre of a table, it's something different and exciting. It certainly beats the Irish norm of having a barbecue in the corner of the garden, hidden away.
"Bringing the pit right up to, or to be built within the table, is great for social events and family parties. People can chat as they're cooking, have a glass of wine and just throw food on as they go.
"There's a lot of growth in this market. It's still a new concept in Ireland, but sales are increasing and I'd say there's been 300pc increase compared to last year. It's a social way of eating, I love it."
Beyond the food, pits are good for "keeping warm at night", he added, as the sun goes down in Irish gardens.
John Kerry, from The Gardenshop.ie, based in Co Laois, said the fire pits have been "selling steadily" as the concept takes off in Ireland.
"Once the sun comes out and the weather improves, we're expecting to see a big increase in sales," Mr Kerry said.
"People enjoy al fresco dining more than ever, they enjoy their outdoor garden space and inviting friends round for rustic dining."
Taste runs from tomorrow to Sunday at Iveagh Gardens.