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.

KERRI THOMAS – Marketing & Accounts Manager
Kerri Thomas (Kerri Clay)

Kerri travelled from the UK for sunshine and beaches. Having spent many years watching her dad trying to light coal in the rain she fully appreciates a traditional Aussie barbie and enthusiastically endorses learning from someone skilled in the process.
She spent seven years running both her own hospitality business in London and before that worked with large Corporate clients in event solutions and speaker support.
She brings broad insight into marketing, brand development, business operations and customer relations. She also makes a mean Margarita.

LARA SWINSBURG – Admin Co-ordinator

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.

LESLEY VAN de VOORDE – Admin Co-ordinator

Lesley also works in Admin at BBQ School co-ordinating class schedules, managing bookings and talking to our customers nationally.  She is from Belgium and has loved discovering Australia through her farm stay in Queensland and her time in Sydney.


Matt Laina

Matt runs the operational side of BBQ School whilst also impressing customers with his knife skills at the weekend.
Matt comes to us from Black Star Pastry where he worked as a chef and brings with him his passion for food and adventure for life.


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.



Originally from Brasil, Mike has made his home in Melbourne and has been with the BBQ School for two years.  He is passionate about 'Low & Slow' American Smoking and a loves sharing his tips and tricks to the perfect BBQ. 


Robert Reemus - Chef

Rob has been a chef for BBQ School for the last two years.  At 34 years old he has a passion for knives, fire, beer & BBQ. What could go wrong? You are in safe and enthusiastic hands with Rob 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 is also a Brand chef for Maleny black Angus Beef and produces videos and recipes for their website.
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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