Bristol at Work: Grillstock

Our series of photographic portraits by Charlotte Stone shows Bristol people at work


Charlotte Stone

Meat, music, mayhem.

That’s the Grillstock ethos, and it’s one that has gone down pretty well with us Bristolians. As the city looks forward to the famed festival taking over the Harbourside Amphitheatre from Saturday 11 – Sunday 12 July, manager of the smokehouse in St Nicks Market, Dan, tells us about what he does, and what it is about Grillstock that makes meat taste magic. “Grillstock originally began as a Bristol based BBQ and music festival, and right from then it was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s run by Ben Merrington and Jon Finch, who absolutely love BBQ and everything associated with it. I think that really comes through, and that’s why its become so popular that there are now festivals in Manchester and, for the first time this year, London too.

“The BBQ restaurants evolved out of Ben and Jon’s passion for US style pit-smoked barbecue food and, er… bourbon, and beer! I opened the first Grillstock here in St Nicks Market in September 2012, so I’ve worked here for almost three years now.

“Before that, I worked in London for over 20 years, in the City. But I’ve always loved food, cooking and eating out – that’s my real passion. So I started working in the food industry when I moved to Bristol five years ago. “One thing I’ll never tire of in this job is walking into work first thing in the morning, turning the corner near the restaurant, and getting an instant thwack of the barbecued meat that’s been cooling in the smoker all night. It fills the whole street. And it’s absolutely gorgeous.

“That’s what’s great about the restaurants. They give diners the chance to experience meat cooked as it should be – on site, overnight, and smoked in hickory. On top of that, it’s fun and the portions are huge. So come hungry. Personally, I’m an absolute brisket fiend. We’re getting USDA beef from the States at the moment – it’s some of the best you can get anywhere and it’s incredible.

“Working in St Nicks is also fantastic. Apart from the fact that its lovely to look at, there’s an incredible hustle and bustle at lunchtime, with customers queuing at various food stalls. It’s cracking. I should be kept busy at this year’s festival too, as I’ll be judging the core meat rounds in the BBQ competition. Then, apart from watching De La Soul and eating my own bodyweight in meat, I’ll be hanging out with my mates in the sunshine (hopefully!) and drinking a few beers in the Brewdog bar.

“So head down – after all, can anyone really get enough barbecued meat in their life?”

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