Summertime is here!  And nothing says "summer" like a great backyard barbecue. This summer you should impress your friends and family by learning the art of backyard barbecue from an expert.

Barn & Company is offering a series of Sunday afternoon "Grill Master" classes (12-4pm) throughout the summer, taught by their barbecue guru, Gary Wiviott.  Gary is known for his BBQ cookbooks such as Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons and Co-founder of the Windy City BBQ Classic.

These four-hour summer classes are designed to teach you all of the basic techniques of cooking with charcoal, as well as increasingly advanced techniques for various types of meats. You will observer, participate, and then feast on the results.  There will also be coolers full of various beverages (adult and non-adult) just like your own outdoor barbecue.

I was recently invited to sample the first class, and I learned more about barbecue in the first 30 minutes than I knew in the past 30 years of cooking in my own backyard.  Gary is a great instructor, the food is plentiful and tasty, and the whole feeling is both fun and educational.  I felt like I was visiting friends for an afternoon on their patio.  I would definitely go back for more.

Classes are available individually or as a package.  If you buy the full package, you get a bonus class in September to learn how to throw together the perfect tailgate party.  Here's a snapshot of the courses:

  • JUNE 29th - Class #1: Spice Rub & Sauce Basics
    •     Setting up the cooker for grilling
    •     Starting the fire
    •     Types of charcoal
    •     Types of wood smoke accents
    •     Zone grilling
  • JULY 13th or 20th - Class #2: Smoking That's Good For You
    •     Types of charcoal and wood combinations
    •     Starting the fire
    •     How to make BBQ sauce
    •     How to make BBQ dry rub
    •     How to make mop sauce
  • AUGUST 10th or 31st - Class #3: Big Meats (aka, Party Time)
    •     Types of charcoal for low slow smoking
    •     Wood smoke accents
    •     Starting a low slow fire
    •     Good sides for a crowd
    •     How to make low slow smoking rub
    •     how to make low slow smoking BBQ sauce
  • SEPTEMBER 14th or 28th - BONUS LESSON: The Perfect Tailgate Party
    •     Tailgate beer pairing 101
    •     Learn how to throw a game-winning tailgate party

Barn & Company features the talent of Pitmaster Gary Wiviott who refers to their menu as true Low Slow hickory smoked barbecue, bringing the traditional goodness of Memphis, Kansas City and Texas-style barbecue to Chicago.  The menu is sourced from regional farm fresh ingredients and top-quality meats, and includes new creations coming out of their smoker like Smoked Pulled Pork Nachos, eight styles of chicken wings, and more.

For more information, call 773-832-4000 or email  You can also follow them on Facebook, like them on Twitter, or visit their website.