For Ken Van Mackelbergh, barbecue is out of season; it’s a community, a culture, a lifestyle, and, most importantly, it’s about family and friends. It is about celebrations and creating memories, about building old friendships, and making new ones.
This has been Ken’s ethos for as long as he can remember. With over 20 years’ experience as a qualified Chef, Ken is affectionately known as ‘BBQ BOI’, a name quickly adopted for the competitive BBQ team he is part of with Nick Borland and Jamie Urwin.
This year a partnership has been developed between BBQ BOI and kiwi-owned business, The Kiwi Outdoor, who manufactures what they believe to be one of the most outstanding BBQs ever built in New Zealand.
The Kiwi Outdoor Oven journey began at Pauanui Beach back in 2012, when two kiwi blocks decided they wanted a ‘fast heat up, top quality pizza/cooking oven and outdoor fire’. At the time there were various options on the market, but none that did it all, they wanted a product that was NZ-made and large in size (with the idea of commercial use in mind).
Quickly, the duo created prototypes and the testing stage began. The company officially launched in 2013 where the ovens were initially promoted by a wood-fired pizza caravan set up in Pauanui beach. Word of mouth quickly spread about this mouth-watering wood-fired taste. In 2018, Brendan and Naomi Arnet purchased the business to take it on the next level of its journey – becoming the best.
Kiwi outdoor oven/fire on the market
“Known as the ‘entertainer’s dream’ – the ovens produce cooking results that previously one could only dream about and outdoor heating that is described as phenomenal.
“The oven is capable of cooking banquets for large groups, or just have the pizzas ready at the same time for the entire family. Enjoy roasts that fall off the bone, beautiful natural smoky BBQ flavours, and an oven that cooks it all.
“Slow cooking is a dream because of the oven’s conductive heating and insulation, meaning you can spend your time mingling with guests, instead of being stuck in the kitchen or behind the BBQ.
When the Arnets purchased the business, they were obviously impressed with the food cooked in the ovens, but also joked about how great it would be if they could be part of a competition to prove it. The Kiwi Outdoor oven featured on ‘My Kitchen Rules’ back in 2014, but the duo had their sights set on something bigger.
After joining forces with team BBQ BOI, they began testing the Kiwi Outdoor Oven in the 2023 NZBA competition season, kicking off with back-to-back Grand Championships in Kumeu and more recently, Grand Championship at Smoke on the Coast, the biggest competition of the year so far, putting the BOI BBQ team at the top of the National Leader board. The field at such competitions is highly competitive, and their wins have earned them a coveted spot at The American Royal World Series of Barbecue.
This is the world’s largest BBQ competition and has over 500 teams competing. Ken, along with the rest of the BBQ BOI team and a Kiwi Outdoor Oven kit, will be heading to Kansas at the end of September to compete against some of the best BBQ teams in the world.