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Barbecue University: Overview

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Barbecue University - An Overview of BBQ U at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs
Lighting a Charcoal Grill at the Broadmoor

Learning to Light a Charcoal Grill at Barbecue U at The Broadmoor

Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Barbecue University is a three day workshop designed to provide an intensive education on everything having to do with the grill. Whether your perfect BBQ is prepared on a gas grill, charcoal grill or wood pellets, whether it involves pork, beef, chicken or even (gasp!) food suitable for vegetarians, whether the goal is to make classic barbecue fare or dishes that you never thought could actually be prepared on a heated grate (soup? salad?), this class tackles it all.

Led by Steven Raichlen, television BBQ personality, host of PBS shows Primal Grill and Barbecue University, and author of many barbecue books, the workshop is held each summer at The Broadmoor resort, in Colorado Springs.

The first thing to know about Barbecue U is that this cooking course that is perfectly tailored to its audience. Which is to say, guys. While the roster of most amateur cooking classes tend to be scenes of female domination, here, the ratio is reversed – most of the students are men. (And many of the women who participate are joining a husband, a son, a male best friend.) In fact, informal polling reveals that many of the students that attend Barbecue U do so on account of a Father’s Day, Christmas or a birthday gift,, the average age probably hovers in the late 40s or early 50s. “I think my daughter was making a statement about my cooking,” said one student who received the class as a gift. “I think my wife gave me this because she wants me to cook more , said another.

So Barbecue U is run like the baseball-cap-wearing man’s world that it is. There is no coddling. There are no soothing group therapy sessions where you’ll air your distress about your pork always coming out dry and stringy, no there there, darling. While you’ll learn about plenty of techniques and tips, you also have to be comfortable figuring out things on your own. You’re getting sent out onto a patio filled with a veritable showroom of more than 30 different kinds of grills with a box of matches and some protein and some instruction and the sure knowledge that you better make something good. There just might be some heckling from your fellow classmates. There could be the slightest feeling of competition. And there is a final exam.

And the students really love it. While this class is, of course, not perfect, there are always “repeaters” at Barbecue U, which is quite remarkable given its rather steep price tag. A couple of students have taken the class for seven years, and counting.

Before we get into what really happens at Barbecue U, a rundown of some of the basics.

  • There are two BBQ U sessions each summer at The Broadmoor. The dates for 2012 are June 6th to June 9th and June 9th to June 12th.
  • The class is capped at 55 students, and often sells out.
  • Although many students take the class solo, it’s also common to take the class with a family member or a friend.
  • Each day, the class runs from 9 am to 12 noon. Breakfast is served before 9 am, and lunch immediately follows class at 12 noon. That leaves the afternoon for other activities, so many students do bring family along.
  • You get a number of goodies, including a detailed recipe book, apron, baseball hat, meat thermometers.
  • Half of the class is held outside, so you need to be prepared for the weather (which could be hot or cold), and to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • For 2012, the rate for the three-night package start at $2,518 for one person attending Barbecue University and $3,893 for two people. This base rate includes a standard room (you can upgrade for a fee), a welcome reception (to which you can bring a guest) the class, breakfast and lunch each day. You can also arrange to bring guests to lunch each day, for an additional fee.
  • To book, call 800-634-7711.

Read on for in-depth coverage of Barbecue U, including what happens at the welcome reception, on the first day, and on the second and third day.

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