Bowling clubs aren’t traditionally known as foodie hubs. Social hubs yes, places that serve as community meeting places yes, but not really somewhere you would once have gone for a fine meal, something other than your run-of-the-mill pub grub.
In parts of the Byron Shire, however, this is no longer the case.
Graeme and Jen Stockdale’s Stockpot Kitchen is a shining example, having been run out of the kitchen at the Bangalow bowlo for around a year now. Specialising in southern US-style cooking, their down-home approach and concerted use of local produce has endeared them to the local crowd, their specialty nights regularly selling out.
‘Graeme’s been cooking with fire for at least 15 years,’ says Jen Stockdale of her chef husband, on why they decided to head down the US comfort-food route. ‘So I’d bought him a small smoker for his birthday. He got really into it, and our friends had a big one that he really got in to. So from there it grew. My brother lives in America, so he’s always sending through all these things.’
The smoking culture has boomed in this country over the past five years, punters taking to the non-Australian method of barbecuing like ducks to water. Not many do it well, however; it’s not as easy as it sounds, but Stockpot have proven they’re on top of it all, Graeme Stockdale bringing his own flavour to this time-honoured way of cooking.
‘Trial and error,’ says Jen Stockdale on how these dishes come together – barbecue pulled pork, smoked brisket burgers, southern-style fried chicken. ‘There are a lot of different elements to it; he’ll experiment with dishes and then they’ll go on the menu when he’s happy with them. And talking to people, he talks to Fletcher (Potanin, Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival), they pick each other’s brains, and people will come in and say they had this dish when they were in the deep south, and Graeme will research it and figure it out. He always wants people’s input.’
The humble bowlo is still a community meeting place, a social hub, but now it’s got the food to go with it, courtesy of those such as Stockpot Kitchen.
Love, love, love the Stockpot Kitchen! Best southern fried chicken I’ve had outside of Tennessee! And if you haven’t had Graeme’s occasional BBQ plate, oh my oh my! Look out for it! Ask for the Fletcher Special! (All the meat and all the sides!!!)