One part of summer the design team just loves is the annual ritual of barbecuing and eating delicious grilled ribs, hamburgers, veggies, fish and other delectable foods. Mmmmm-mmmmm!!!
Luckily for us, a barbecue is a fixture in the average Canadian backyard, balcony or porch. But for those who are buying for the first time or replacing an older model, remember to seek advice before you buy.
That’s just what we did — we spoke to Michael Rumolo, who owns and runs Toronto-based Dickson Home Hardware (2028 Avenue Rd., just south of Highway 401) with his father, Tony. The store is one of Ontario’s largest Weber and Broil King barbecue dealers, so Michael would know which pointers are the most important.
First of all, he says to get the size you need for your everyday life. “If the barbecue feeds 12, it does not suit a family of four,” says Michael. It’s not worthwhile getting a larger barbecue if you only entertain every once in a while. However, if you entertain every weekend, and entertaining is a way of life for you, average the number of people you feed, and get a barbecue for that number.
Usually, barbecues come in size ranges — the smallest ones have in the area of 350 square inches of grilling space, which is enough for a family of four. The largest sized grill, the “party” size, has in the area of 600 square inches of grill, and can feed a family of six that entertains often. And there are medium-sized grills, too, for requirements that fall into the middle, between party size and small family size.
This year, there has been some jiggling with traditional size categories of barbecues — the Weber CEP 310 is an extremely popular example of this trend. The traditional three-burner mid-sized grill has been in the area of 424 square inches while the new CEP 310 has been stretched to a generous 507 square inches of grilling space, an extra several inches that people really seem to appreciate!
Unlike kitchen stoves, you do not need to pay much attention to BTU numbers, which is a way of measuring heat, says Michael. They can be misleading because BTUs are closely linked to the size of the grill rather than the heat that is produced. Some barbecues are designed to be much more efficient than others — they retain heat more effectively, and this has nothing to do with BTU numbers. Look at the general structural quality of the barbecue instead — if there are cracks, gaps, or loose fitting tops, heat will escape and reduce the barbecue’s effectiveness.
And avoid buying a barbecue priced at a “too-good-to-be-true” price. Kitchener, Ont.-based Broil King barbecues range from $280 to $950, while the higher-end Illinois-based Weber is priced from $499 to $2,400. A cheaper barbecue from a less well-recognized brand may break down easily, and when it does, parts and servicing are difficult to find.
Last, but not least, you need to take a good look at the grill. The best option is a heavyweight grill made of a long-lasting material such as solid stainless steel. Avoid any grill coated with porcelain — it can crack or chip, and once it does, rust is sure to follow. Cast iron is heavy and great for searing, but it also tends to rust, so you must either maintain it or replace it periodically when it begins to rust.
The diameter of the grill metal rods should have a 3/8-inch or 9.5 mm diameter size. If you have anything less, the delightful searing effect (our mouths are watering!) would not work as nicely. As Michael says, “The right grill retains the heat, which gives you the good sear that you need to lock in the juices.” Yum!
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