Mark Jenner

Founder, Barbecue and Grilling Expert

Expertise

Barbecue, Grilling, Smoking (cooking), Product Reviews, Food Safety

Mark Jenner

Highlights

  • Barbecuing and grilling since 2005.
  • Founded and written for FoodFireFriends since 2017.
  • Hands-on experience with almost every type of smoker and grill imaginable.
  • Currently owns and uses over 30 different smokers and grills for hands-on experience while creating content for this site.
  • Skilled BBQ product tester with years of experience across all types of smokers, grills, tools, and accessories.
  • Has developed and written up countless BBQ and grilling recipes.
  • Quoted in and mentioned in numerous publications across the web for his BBQ advice.

Experience

I am a barbecue addict who first got into it in 2005 when someone offered me a second-hand Weber Kettle charcoal grill at a knock-down price.

I’d recently moved into a rented, shared house with three good friends, one of them being my American friend, Michael. He knew his way around a grill, showed me how to smoke chicken and ribs, and soon convinced me to go halves with him for the price of a Weber Smokey Mountain.

I soon became obsessed and decided to learn everything I could about BBQ, grilling and smoking. I remember the first two books I bought: ‘The BBQ Bible,’ by Steven Raichlen,’ and ‘Peace, Love & Barbecue,’ by Mike Mills.’ Excellent books, and Michael and I worked our way through most of their recipes, and for me, a new love was born.

I’ve loved all forms of food and cooking since I was a young teenager anyway, and this was just the next step in my culinary journey. But BBQ is the one I enjoy and am now most passionate about.

Since those early days, I have bought and sold scores of different grills and smokers, eaten at dozens of smokehouses, and attended countless barbecue festivals and cookouts.

I was initially an electronic engineer by trade and then a technical specialist in the CCTV and security systems world. And I’ve always enjoyed writing, teaching, IT, programming, and the world of computers. So back in 2017, I decided I would start a website, and one in BBQ and grilling was a natural choice. And so FoodFireFriends was born.

Over the years, I’ve worked on the site slowly. But from humble beginnings, it has become a large and popular resource for many. And I’m now beginning to add team members to help me grow the site faster, to add more expertise and voices to this incredible resource.

These days I regularly contribute to this site as an author, the lead content strategist, and chief editor. I barbecue between 3 and 10 times weekly, satisfying my passion for creating great food from raw ingredients over live fire.

The main equipment I currently own and use is:

  • Three Kamado Joes (Junior, Classic I, and Big Joe III.)
  • A Weber Smokey Mountain.
  • A Masterbuilt Gravity Fed charcoal smoker.
  • A Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill.
  • Two Z Grills pellet grills.
  • A Pit Barrel cooker.
  • Two Weber kettle grills (original and Mastertouch.)
  • A Napoleon Pro charcoal kettle grill.
  • A Weber Genesis gas grill.
  • A Masterbuilt 30 electric smoker.
  • A Kadai open fire cooking pit.
  • An Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven.
  • A handful of travel grills, including Weber Go-Anywhere and Smokey Joe portable charcoal grills, and a Napoleon TravelQ Pro285 gas grill.
  • A vast range of remote thermometers, temperature controllers, instant-read thermometers, and other BBQ tools and accessories.

I sometimes buy, use, review and sell on grills and smokers while always keeping at least one of each type for me to cook on and experiment with to help me create content for this site. And besides, I have a bit of a collector’s attitude; The right number of barbecues to own is always what I have + 1. I can never have enough or too many!

I am 45 years old, married with two children, and my hobbies include playing in a darts team, amateur golf, general fitness, and a bit of travel.

More From Mark Jenner

A porterhouse and ribeye steak on a cutting board, with vine tomatoes, greens, and salt.
Ingredients

Porterhouse vs Ribeye, What’s the Difference and Which is Best?

Porterhouse and ribeye are both epic prime cut steaks worthy of being on any menu. But which is best? Why and when would you choose one over the other? Which has more flavor? Which is the leanest or healthiest cut? We answer all this and more below.

Two spatchcock chicken on a kamado grill.
Prep & Serving

How to Spatchcock a Chicken (With Video) — And Why You Should Try it!

Spatchcocking a chicken allows us to get dry rub and flavor onto more surface area while reducing the grilling time of a whole bird by half. It also lowers the chances of us over or undercooking the bird for a higher chance at a better end result. Here’s how to do it.

The top portion of a how-to use a charcoal grill infographic.
Grilling Guides

How to use a Charcoal Grill: My Advice after 20 Years Experience

The only guide to using a charcoal grill you’ll ever need, this article is a monster! A complete, no stone left unturned, detailed A to Z instructional guide on how to use and master your charcoal grill to cook anything at any temperature.

skirt steak vs flank steak, in two photos side by side, both on a slate board with herbs and spices.
Ingredients

Skirt Steak Vs Flank Steak, Which is Best? How do they Differ?

Skirt steak and flank steak often get confused, probably due to them being so little known. So we thought we’d clear up the confusion in this comparison. Read on if you want to know the differences between them, and become an expert in these two lesser-known cuts.

A Weber Original Kettle charcoal grill isolated on black, next to text describing this article as a review.
Grills

Weber Original Kettle 22 Inch Charcoal Grill Review

The grill that started a grilling revolution, the original kettle from Weber. Barely changed from its initial design in many decades, and for good reason. See why we — and everyone else — loves it in our hands on review of this charcoal grilling classic. Do we still think its value for money?

weber smokey joe on a stainless steel table.
Grills

Weber Smokey Joe Review — 14″ Portable Charcoal Grill

Is the weber smokey Joe a capable, portable charcoal grill? Or is your money better spent elsewhere? Find out in our hands-on review covering build quality, usability, performance, pros and cons, and value for money. You will also want to read my essential advice on model selection!

Chicken pieces smoking on a grill.
Grilling Theory

How Long to Grill Chicken — For Perfect Texture and Moisture

Chicken comes in many different forms: Whole, wings, thighs, breasts, bone-in and out … How long does each cut need grilling for, to be safe for eating, and tasty too? What if you grill for too long? Or not long enough? Read on for the details.

A whole chicken defrosting on a white plate.
Prep & Serving

How to Defrost Chicken Fast — and Above all, SAFELY!

Cooking chicken from frozen is a recipe for disaster — or illness. But defrosting chicken can take from hours for small cuts to over 24 hours for a whole bird. But all is not lost: Here’s how to defrost chicken fast, for those inevitable times you were unable to prepare properly.

weber smokey mountain isolated on black, next to text describing this review articles content.
Smokers

Weber Smokey Mountain Review — an All-Time Best First Smoker

The Weber Smokey Mountain is the most popular beginner charcoal smoker on the market. It is consistently recommended to beginners yet still used and loved by many competition pros because it’s that good! Learn all about its features, performance, pros and cons, in my hands-on review after years of use.

Maverick ET732 thermometer receiver isolated on black.
Thermometers

Maverick ET 732 Review — Long Range, Dual Probe Meat Thermometer

The Maverick ET732 is a very popular digital remote wireless meat thermometer used for many years by countless outdoor cooks to help them grill and smoke accurately. Discover what’s good and bad about it, and whether we are happy to recommend it in our hands-on review.

Contents of Thermopro tp20 thermometer box laid out on a chopping board.
Thermometers

Thermopro TP20 Review — Is it a Good Thermometer Worth Your Money?

Is the ThermoPro TP20 with its extra features worth considering over the more affordable TP08? How does it compare to its competitors? Is it reliable? Is it worth dropping your hard-earned money on? Check out our thoughts in this helpful, unbiased, hands-on review.

Thermopro TP08 in use with a red kamado Joe classic.
Thermometers

ThermoPro TP-08 Review — Wireless, Dual Probe BBQ Thermometer

The ThermoPro TP08 is an affordable, reliable, durable wireless thermometer I have in my tool kit that gets constant use. In this hands-on review, learn its features, pros and cons, how it measures up against the competition, and why I am happy to use and recommend it.

A kamado kick ash basket isolated on black, next to text describing this article as a review.
Accessories

Kick Ash Basket Review: A Must-Have Accessory for Kamado Grills

The kick ash basket promises to increase airflow, allowing for a hotter fire when desired, as well as greater control at lower temperatures. It also enables you to separate out and reuse unburned fuel with a simple shake at the end of a cook. Here are our thoughts in our hands-on review.

Meater+ thermometer in its charging block on a wooden table.
Thermometers

Meater and Meater Plus Wireless Thermometer Review and Testing

The Meater is the first — and only — truly wireless thermometer, with not a single wire in sight! Essential for rotisserie cooking with no wires that can tangle on the rotating spit, but an excellent all-rounder for all grilling and smoking too. Check it out in our hands-on review.

A Looft Air Lighter 1 isolated on black, next to text describing this article as a review.
Accessories

Looft Air Lighter 1 Review — a Fire Starter So Hot, It’s Cool

An electric Fire starter that looks a little like a lightsaber, gets a charcoal grill going quickly, and saves money over regularly buying firelighters. What’s not to like? In this review, I take a detailed look at the Looftlighter, what it is, how it’s used, its pros and cons, and more.

Close up of Flame boss 500 controlling a Kamado Joe Big Joe 3.
Thermometers

Flame Boss 500 Review, A Hands-On look at this Wi-Fi Smoker Controller

My flame boss 500 gets used at least weekly, which should tell you something about my overall opinion on this product. But discover my exact thoughts on it, with a discussion of the good and the bad, and whether I think it’s worth your money, in my unbiased, hands-on review.

BBQ mop sauce being smeared all over a porchetta on a grill.
BBQ Theory

BBQ Mop Sauce — What is it? What Does it Do? Plus 4 Favorite Recipes

You often see pitmasters mopping their meats partway through cooking. But why? What are the benefits? Is it recommended for all cooks, or only for certain meats, or during the use of specific BBQ methods? Let’s find out, and look at some of our favorite mop sauce recipes.

weber genesis ii e-310 isolated on black.
Grills

Weber Genesis II E-310 Review — is This the Gas Grill for You?

The Genesis is one of Weber's premium lines of grills, well-built, feature-rich, and made for those who want the very best and are willing to pay for it. Have they hit the mark? Find out in our review where we put it through its paces and compare it to the rest of the field.

Close up of nice, moist beef ribs with a smoke ring and peppery rub crust.
Recipes

Smoked Beef Ribs Recipe — BIG, Rich, Moist and Tender Short Ribs

Beef ribs are one of my all-time favorite meats to BBQ! Similar taste to brisket, easier to cook and ready in half the time, while also being cheaper to buy. What’s not to like? So here’s how I turn these ‘brisket on a stick’ behemoths into a wonderful beefy treat.

Dry aging beef in a refrigerator.
Prep & Serving

How to Dry Age Beef and Steak at Home — A Step-by-Step Guide

Try it to believe it! Dry aging concentrates and intensifies the flavor of meat, taking the flavor to a whole new level. Here’s how to dry age your beef and steak at home yourself, which can save you A LOT of money over buying it pre-aged from a butcher.

A mans hand liberally sprinkling dry rub over pork ribs.
Prep & Serving

How to Use Dry Rub — How Much, When, And on Wet or Dry Meat?

Using the right amount of rub in the correct way, can be the difference between a superbly complemented and elevated tasting piece of meat or an overpowered disaster. Learn how much rub to use, when to apply it, proper technique, and more in this guide.

gas vs charcoal smoker, written above one photo of each side by side.
Smokers

Gas vs Charcoal Smoker — Which is Best, or Better, FOR YOU?!

What do we consider best between gas and charcoal smokers? Charcoal...but why? And we also say this with caveats because what’s best for us is not best for everyone. So find out in our latest comparison style article, looking at all the pros and cons, which type will be best for you.

Gas vs electric smoker, written above 2 photos of one of each, both full of meat.
Smokers

Gas vs Electric Smoker — Which is Best, or Better, FOR YOU?!

This guide compares gas smokers to electric smokers, looking at their respective pros and cons, so you can decide which of the two might be right for you. And please be aware that there’s no one right answer because it highly depends on your particular needs! We explain all below.

Electric vs charcoal smoker, written above one of each, with the electric full of meat.
Smokers

Electric vs Charcoal Smoker — Which is Best, or Better, FOR YOU?!

Which type of smoker is right for you between electric and charcoal? It mostly comes down to taste or convenience, in my opinion. But that’s not all. You should also consider the initial cost to buy, ongoing costs, reliability, and more. Let’s dig into which we feel is best.

A smoked and sliced wagyu brisket on a cutting board.
Brisket

What is Wagyu Beef? What Makes it so Special and so Loved?

Wagyu beef is widely regarded as the best in the world, and it’s certainly up there with the most expensive! Epic marbling and flavor, it’s a luxury and a treat. Combine that with the king of low n slow smoked meats to get Wagyu brisket? Now we’re talking epic!

Two photos side by side, one of a pellet grill and one of a gas grill.
Grills

Pellet Grill Vs Gas Grill — Which is Best for You?

To help you choose between a pellet or pellet gas grill, we’re going to compare them side by side, looking at the most important aspects such as ease of use, required cleaning and maintenance, the flavor of food produced, initial cost, ongoing running costs, and more.

USDA graded fillet steak on a chopping board with a Japanese style knife.
Ingredients

USDA beef grades, How They’re Decided, and What They Mean

When you are faced with buying choice, select, or prime beef, do you know what this means and what the difference is? There are, in fact, eight different grades of beef as determined by the USDA, based on meat maturity and level of marbling. Here’s what they all mean.

Close up of some smoked beef short ribs on a wooden chopping board.
Ribs

Types of Beef Ribs — Their Differences and What to Tell Your Butcher

Beef ribs have a real caveman element about them, are unctuous, flavor-packed, and are always real crowd-pleasers. But did you know there are different types, that are very different in size and how you would cook and present them? Learn all about these BBQ’ers favorites in this guide.

Close up of a pork butt, fat side up, on a wooden chopping board with a kitchen knife in.
Pulled Pork

Pork Butt Fat Side up or Down? We Settle this Once and for All!

There’s a lot of disagreement on cooking pork butts fat side up or down. We put the debate to rest by discussing the pros and cons of each way, as well as flipping part way through, and whether your type of smoker affects things. Have a read and make your own mind up.

Close up of Himalayan slat blocks used for grilling, sitting in a charred wooden holder.
Grilling Guides

Himalayan Salt Block Grilling — How To and Why You Should Try It

Himalayan salt is loved for its healing benefits and nutritional value. But did you know you can grill on it too? Learn the technique and benefits in our latest guide covering how to grill on a slat block, why you should, and many tips and tricks to get you going.

A smoker tray full of wood dust that can be used to turn a gas grill into a smoker.
Grilling Guides

How to Smoke on a Gas Grill — It’s Easy, and Super Effective!

Did you know you can smoke on your gas grill? It sounds a bit far-fetched, but is actually easier than you think! All you need is a smoke box or foil pouch, some wood chips, and this guide that details all the required steps, plus a video to follow.

Close up of grilling indoors 2 steaks in a skillet.
Grilling Guides

How to Grill Indoors — Can you still get Outdoor BBQ Flavor?

Can you get outdoor grilling quality and taste while cooking indoors? It’s debatable. We explore this question and look at options in our latest guide on grilling, where we take a good look at the many options for indoor grilling equipment and a few cheats you can make with your existing hob and oven.

Close up of brisket with a deep BBQ bark, some of it sliced.
BBQ Theory

What is BBQ Bark? Why Do You Want it? How Can You Get it?

BBQ bark is a wonderfully tasty, desirable, chewy crust that forms on meat after hours of low n slow smoking. So it’s something we really want to aim for, and we can plan and do things to help make it happen. Learn how to get the best bark in the following guide.

Close up of brisket burnt ends.
Brisket

How to Make Burnt Ends — Melt in Your Mouth, Cubed Brisket Candy

Burnt ends are the point end of the brisket, cubed, sprinkled with sugar, then coated in sauce and returned to the smoker until they become melt-in-your-mouth, beefy candy bites. There are many methods and recipes you can follow to produce your own. Here’s our take on them, which we’re sure you’ll love.

A raw prime rib and a raw bone in ribeye, side by side in two separate photos.
Ingredients

Prime Rib vs Ribeye — What’s the Difference?

Prime rib and ribeye may look similar, but they are different cuts that should be treated and cooked differently. But how do they differ? When would you choose one over the other? Why do we have to cook them differently? We answer all your questions below.

Close up of two bits of hanger steak — tough and benefit from tenderizing.
Prep & Serving

How to Tenderize Steak — Turn Cheap Cuts Into Prime Equivalents!

Here are six popular ways to tenderize steak, to take even the cheapest of available steak cuts and make them feel like more expensive, higher-quality prime steaks than they are. You will be able to find at least one method using things you already have in your kitchen!

An instant read thermometer being used to take the temp of a spatchcock chicken on a grill.
General How Tos

How to use an Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer Correctly

Taking an accurate internal temperature of your food is the ONLY way to know when it’s cooked to your desired doneness. To do so, you need to use an instant-read food thermometer that reads quickly and accurately. Here’s how to use one correctly.

Close up of a bowl of chimichurri sauce.
Recipes

Chimichurri Sauce Recipe — Fresh, Flavorful, Delicious

This is my take on the famous South American, zingy, tangy, herby, spicy, garlicky condiment that is, in my opinion, the absolute best accompaniment to many cuts of grilled steak. It’s easy to make, packs a real punch, and will impress anybody you serve it to.