A PAIR of culinary queens have fended off competition to take the crown in the Observer Food Monthly (OFM) awards.

Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn, who own the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, in Barry, brought home the award after readers gave their barbecue brilliance an overwhelming show of support to vote it Best Restaurant of the Year 2018.

They collected their award in London on Thursday, October 18, saying they were delighted to be representing the Welsh nation in its first ever ‘Restaurant of the Year’ win in the 15-year history of the awards.

They said: “Not only are we overjoyed to be recognised for Hang Fire, our food and our ethos on a personal level this award represents Barry too and the amazing journey the local community has had collectively in terms of turning around the area and creating an amazing destination and place to live.

“We’re proud to be part of the transformation and to help put Barry on the culinary map.

“Our vision was always to set up a ‘neighbourhood barbecue joint’ away from the mainstream and concentrate on providing great food to the surrounding community.

“We couldn’t have chosen a better place to fulfil that dream.”

The win is a first in Wales and it bucks the trend for barbecue for the style not being considered a significant player in the UK food scene.

OFM said “In the world of street food, the story of beardy geezers quitting the rat race to set up a barbecue joint is oft repeated as to be a cliché, but Shauna Guinn and Sam Evans subvert it.

“Their menu takes in all sorts of southern cuisine, expanding what too often remains a limited repertoire.”

The first permanent restaurant for the southern food-obsessed duo, Hang Fire opened its doors in March 2016 in the restored Grade II listed Victorian Pumphouse.

The restaurant is the culmination of hard-sought research across the US Southern States, a successful street-food foray beginning in a backstreet Cardiff boozer, heaps of grit and determination, a much-needed sense of humour and a fair few mishaps.

Their vision was to run a small restaurant that relies solely on fresh, ‘scratch-made’ produce – far away from the congested chain-led culinary landscape – and to create food with soul and passion.

Hang Fire offers Louisiana classics, authentic US barbecue and wood-fired meats on Wales’ first custom built Argentinian Parrilla grill. Meat-loving regulars and committed travelling barbecue devotees pack the place out every week.

Ms Evans said: “Shauna and I are still pinching ourselves.

“Surely there must be some mistake?

“We just make barbecue in Barry. I’m totally overwhelmed.

“I would say it’s a dream come true, but a restaurant like ours doesn’t dare to dream of this coveted prize.

“The amazing thing about this award is that it’s the people’s vote; our customers have got us here and their loyalty and love for what we do astounds us every day.

“This award is dedicated to everyone that voted for us and our incredibly dedicated family of staff,” added Ms Guinn.