It’s the ideal scenario for many caterers across the UK. The sun is out, the barbecue is sizzling and countless smiling customers are queuing up for a delicious burger, hot dog or skewer. If you have a beer garden, cater for outdoor events such as festivals or concerts, or simply wish to expand your street food menu, buying a commercial barbecue is an essential summer investment. Simply put, a commercial catering barbecue is a fast and easy way to prepare large amounts of crowd-favourite foods. The combination of beautiful weather and the enticing smoky aroma ensures a great profit margin for as long as the sun lasts! Before you decide which BBQ to buy however, it’s important to consider a few factors.
CHARCOAL OR GAS
Ever popular, the traditional charcoal barbecue cooking method has existed for centuries. Perhaps the unmistakable smoky aroma, or delicious distinctive taste has since led to the technique being used worldwide to this day. As a general rule, charcoal barbecues cook food slower, meaning more moisture is retained within the food. As fat drips onto the charcoal, more of the smoky aroma is made, however “flare ups” can occur, where the fat catches light. Careful control of charcoal barbecues needs to be administered to ensure food isn’t cooked too fast, which can either make it taste bad or worse, ruining it altogether and causing waste.
For inexperienced users, a charcoal barbecue can be somewhat tricky to light and regulate at first, however it’s quick to learn the techniques for producing the authentic taste which customers crave. It’s important to note that charcoal barbecues will need refilling occasionally if used for extended periods.
Gas barbecues are a much more modern invention, with the concept having been developed in the 1960s in America. The modern commercial catering gas barbecue is rather different from those first machines, as they are now designed for large scale output and reliability. The main benefits of gas barbecues are fast lighting and cooking as well as much more controllable heat. This can help to reduce queue times for your customers, as well as reducing food waste. Some criticise gas barbecues as they don’t always produce food with the same distinctive taste as their charcoal counterparts, however, by using lava rock the smoky taste can, to some extent, be replicated. Another consideration is that gas barbecues generally have more functionality, meaning they tend to be more expensive than charcoal versions.
Gas barbecues, by their nature, use gas canisters so it’s important to make sure you have enough fuel to cater for the whole event, as well as a place to store them safely. Barbecues with more burners generally use more gas, however some have the ability to limit which burners are used, therefore saving energy during quieter periods.
STORAGE & PORTABILITY
The nature of British weather means barbecues aren’t likely to be used often during the winter months, so it’s important to consider what features the barbecue includes to help during down times. Some barbecues can simply be folded away, to take up the least possible space. Others include wheels, so they can be manoeuvred into a more suitable position, such as an indoor storage area once service is finished. Some of the largest commercial barbecues can be somewhat difficult to move, especially if they are designed for permanent positioning. In these circumstances, a weather-resistant cover would usually be advisable to help prevent the barbecue being damaged over time by the elements.