BBQ School Team

About the BBQ School

BBQ School was founded in 2004 by internationally trained chef and passionate foodie Ben Farley who identified that while many Aussies were really into cooking on the BBQ, most only had one or two recipes they knew how to cook really well.

Showing keen BBQ’ers how to prepare and confidently cook a collection of simple, effective and tasty recipes was the best way forward and so in 2004 Ben turned his back on a career in Sydney and London high profile restaurants and founded BBQ School.

In our classes, we assume no knowledge but have found that the more a student knows about BBQ cooking, the more they learn from our experienced chef presenters.

To date around 90,000 people have been taught through the BBQ School.

Our head office is in Willoughby, Sydney but we also operate regular classes in Sydney's Centennial Park, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Hunter Valley and each year the School continues to grow in response to people who wish to cook with more flair when entertaining.  


BEN FARLEY – Chef, Director and Founder

Ben Farley

Ben is a highly regarded and enthusiastic chef with over 20 year’s commercial experience in both high profile local restaurants such as Bilson’s and International Michelin Star establishments such as the Mirabelle in Mayfair, London. Ben also taught the chefs of the future at Ryde Tafe and put together the BBQ School to share his knowledge and passion for food and entertainment.

SOLENE GUILARD – Admin, Events and Marketing Coordinator

Solene traveled from France and ended up in Oz after stopping in a lot of other countries throughout the years like Ecuador, Malta, United States... She studied International Trade and Communications and has worked for different industries such as Art galleries, Banking, Hospitality, Events... As a good Frenchy, she loves her food and wine and really enjoys working for an Australian cooking school.

JESSICA LOPES - Admin and Digital Marketing 


Image may contain: Jéssica Lopes, smiling, ocean, outdoor and water

 Jessica comes to us from sunny Brazil and is the newest member of our HQ team. Jess came to us from Brisbane where she spent months travelling and headed south to get right into business and events. 

Jessica has studied business administration and marketing and is a gun with all things digital and social media, plus is the smiley face you see when you come in!


LARA SWINSBURG – Admin and Events Team 

Lara Swinsburg

Lara works in Admin at BBQ School co-ordinating class schedules, managing bookings online and over the phone and taking good care of our customers during classes in Willoughby.

She is majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Sydney and is very passionate about food and health.


Seamus Collins (James Collins)

Seamus, James or “The Moose” as he is known around the office is a professional Chef having originally learned his craft in Ireland. He moved abroad to continue his thirst for knowledge and eventually landed in Sydney spending time working in everything from chef hat restaurants to food vans with much acclaim. Seamus, for the past 9 years has been working closely with the Chefs of the future – teaching commercial cookery at Ryde TAFE.
Seamus also has a Bachelor of Education with Honours. In his spare time, he runs his own chocolate business Choc-a-holic
Seamus and has been delighting the students at BBQ School with his chef skills for the past 3 years.


Gary Butler
After training in Essex and The Park Lane Hotel in London, Gary worked in pubs and restaurants around East Anglia. He began travelling in India then flew into Perth and drove across the Nullarbor before settling down to work in a famous Irish pub in Surrey Hills for 5 years. He returned to the UK with his Australian wife, worked at the Royal Albert Hall but couldn’t stay away from Australia returning six years later to run a harbourside wedding/ function centre. He went onto sous chef at Google Australia and currently works weekdays on Sydney harbour on catamarans and Rivereas. Loves to annoy Seamus whilst making chocolates at Choc-a-aholics.



 Ed has been a chef for BBQ School for the last four years, both in Brisbane and now as a lead in Melbourne. He has a huge passion for knives, fire, beer & BBQ. What could go wrong? You are in safe and enthusiastic hands with Ed facilitating your class!



Shane is a 4th generation publican and has been in the hospitality industry all his life. Starting in a family hotel, he learned every facet of the business which has enabled him to travel both in Australia and the world. He has worked in London, Spain and the Greek Islands but living in Paris for 3 years and working for Le Restaurant Jardinier and Moulin Rouge had the biggest influence on his career.  Since returning home, he has been working in hotels, pubs, restaurants and the Parliament House.
He started his own restaurant and sold it on to pursue other ventures like BBQ School in Brisbane. His goal is simple, cook, cook, cook and have fun doing it! 


Andrew Evans

Andrew wanted to be a chef from the age of 2 (documented at the time running around the house saying "I'm a chef"). He worked for hotel groups in the UK including Corus & Sheraton group at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel during the years it was voted the best airport Hotel in the world. 

He owned his own French-style bistro for 2 years in Cornwall in the UK serving freshly prepared French country food and currently runs a company called "Pit Pirates" which makes sauces, chutneys, pickles and relishes and traditional English small goods including pork pies, Cornish Pasties, and English premium pork sausages. He has a lifelong love of sauce and believes a good sauce can fix almost any meal!

He played American Football with US Navy personnel through the 80's and was involved in the "tailgating" culture at American sports events, learned the first stages of American smoke skills from servicemen from Florida and the Carolina's. Whilst travelled extensively in the USA - East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest states he gained a keen interest in regional cooking styles. 
Teaching BBQ at the Hamilton Hotel in Brisbane has given me great contacts in the BBQ community and allowed me the opportunity to experiment with different woods, classic and new techniques.
Married for 30 years he has 1 grown-up daughter grows olives, citrus and coffee (and yes, smokes it!) and lives happily on 10 acres, on a hill, looking at the bottom end of the D'Aguillar range, Queensland.

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