The Americanisation of Australian culture began a century ago when Hollywood movies arrived in our cinemas and influenced our language, fashion and culture.

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Now, another bastion of Aussie tradition is under threat — the backyard barbecue.

Australia Day is one of the times when we gather with family and friends to burn a sausage or overcook a steak on a traditional gas barbecue.

But don’t be surprised if you turn up at a friend or relative’s house and sit down to a Texas-style brisket that’s been cooking in a smoker for 20 hours.

Gold Coast resident Greg Dean said he became interested in American-style barbecuing while living in the United States and noticed the difference in styles.

“Aussie barbecues are traditionally pretty quick,” he said.

“I think we all remember the old steel plate on the brick walls.

“America-style barbecues are wood-fired barbecues that are cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods of time and they use secondary cuts of meat.”

Mr Dean said the “low and slow” style of cooking had taken off in Australia, with many enthusiasts inspired by cooking shows including BBQ Pitmasters.

A man stands beside a BBQ near a blue marquee.

He said a competition was held in Port Macquarie on the New South Wales mid-north coast in 2013 and 50 people turned up at the local caravan park with their barbecues.

“There was a competition there that really copied what the folks in America were doing,” he said.

“It was a wild success so a lot of people copied that around Australia.

“There was an Australian Alliance created to regulate, set up rules and formally get judges and that really started competition barbecuing in Australia.”

Thinly sliced cuts of meat arranged in a row.

Adam Roberts was at the same competition and co-founded the Australasian Barbecue Alliance, whose Facebook page now has almost 100,000 followers.

He said he was drawn to the cooking style while travelling to the US.

“The flavours of cooking meat over a fire are just superior to a pan or over a gas grill,” he said.

Mr Roberts said judges used three criteria when selecting winners in a competition.

“Presentation is very important, people eat with their eyes. If the food looks great the judges will get excited to eat it,” he said.

“Texture — nice, soft and juicy and not dry or chewy.

“Then there’s taste, which is super subjective.

“Everyone has a different preference for spicy, sweet and savoury, but the best barbecue out there will appeal to a very broad range of palates.”

Beef being cooked on a flaming grill.

Mr Roberts said beef brisket and lamb shoulder were two of the most popular cuts of meat.

“You want a really big, thick and fatty cut so that over time, that smoke and that fire breaks down the meat, so that you’re left with a nice rendered, sweet and flavourful piece of meat,” he said.

Gold Coast butcher Kristy Rossington said she started stocking American-style barbecue products in 2015 when customers began asking for them.

“The range of what we stock has definitely increased,” she said.

“We sell all of the coal and the woodchips, the barbecue rubs and flavours.

“We buy in different-branded briskets — premium beef brands that people would know about.”

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Mr Dean said the low-and-slow barbecue competitions were even attracting professional chefs and caterers who entered to test the flavour profiles of their meats before selling to the public.

“It is very addictive and it is hard,” he said.

“There are regular backyard guys like me, we get a group of mates together and have a go.

“You start the first one overnight and you’ve got about 20 hours to cook usually five different cuts of meat and you’ve got to time them for specific handing-in times the following morning.”

Barbecue evolution

Mr Dean said the type of barbecues people cook on was constantly changing.

His first foray into American-style cooking involved the purchase of a large ceramic charcoal smoker that was shaped like an egg.

Then he bought a Texas offset smoker, but it was too heavy to take to competitions, so he invested in a trailer offset smoker, which can be towed behind a car.

He then dabbled in electric pellet grills, which use a probe to monitor the meat’s temperature.

“The current technology now is drum smokers,” Mr Dean said.

“It’s a 55 gallon drum with a couple of intakes on the side. It’s a pressure cooker but it’s also a smoker.

“A 7 kilogram brisket in an offset would take you about 12 hours to cook, but in one of these it takes 5 hours.”

A large barbecue and smoker on a trailer towed by a car at night.

He said trend of “low and slow” cooking had now become “hot and fast”.

Adam Roberts from the Australasian Barbecue Alliance said he did not believe American-style outdoor cooking would disappear like many other imported trends.

“There are so many people that are just thirsty for knowledge at the moment,” he said.

“Whilst ever there is a demand and desire to learn, I think there is still plenty of room left in the community to grow.

“People are taking a lot more time and putting a lot more thought into what they’re putting on the barbecue.”