Barbecues are big business and whether indoors or out, are helping shape the way menus are written in the UK. But, choosing the right model for your business is up for some debate. Here we add fuel to fire that discussion
What the chefs say...
"I've been cooking on an IK-450 for several months and totally love it - nearly all my menu is cooked on it now. I jumped at the chance to get a BC-800 barbecue, it has all the features of the enclosed Inka ovens, and because it's lined with inch-thick cast iron, it retains the heat better than any other barbecue I've cooked on thank goodness it comes with wheels though or I'd never be able to move it - it's a heavyweight piece of kit!"
Aiden Byrne, the Church Green
"I have had the opportunity to trial an Inka barbecue and have seen fantastic results, both in terms of the quality of the food I am able to produce, and the variety of different ingredients that can be cooked using the equipment. I am so impressed with the Inka that I will be using it in the Ribstock event in London tomorrow [28 April]."
● Capable of cooking up to 80kg of meat or fish per hour, this is a monster of a barbecue aimed at chefs who are serious about providing a substantial grilled menu with a considerable display of theatre
● With a flameless burn using a coconut charcoal, it is also a good ecological choice and virtually smoke-free
Price Ranges up to £5,499
Inka Charcoal Barbecues
The big green egg
What the chefs say...
"We've been using the EGG for a few years and since we've got it and tasted the results, we haven't stopped pushing the boundaries of new smoke flavours and textures that can be achieved on it."
Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains
"Big Green Egg all the way for me - ask any of the chefs that use it - we all have one at home, such amazing flavours."
Alan Murchison, L'Ortolan
● Charcoal-based ceramic oven with temperatures ranging from 80°C to 400°C
● Ovoid design causes heat to radiate and remain contained inside the domed lid which produces perfect internal airflow conditions
● For use indoor or out depending on size, the EGG is quick to light and comes in a range of sizes with various cooking surfaces
Price Ranges from £399 to £1,200
What the chefs say...
"We use the Primo XL and to have the ability to split the firebox for cooking, both direct and indirect, sets it apart from other barbecues."
Paul Sowden, Mint Group
"Having looked at other ceramic grills, I finally settled on the Primo. Its oval shape and design allows me to cook on the ceramic plate and on the grill rack at the same time. Adding wood chips to the coal for flavour is easy. The Primo is so very versatile, perfect for a busy kitchen."
Mark Poynton, Alimentum restaurant
● An oval ceramic charcoal grill and smoker for indoor or outdoor use depending on size
● The patented Primo XL features up to 680sq in of standard cooking space and includes a cast-iron fixed chimney cap that is crucial to temperature control when the lid is raised
● D-shaped reversible cooking grates for cooking at varying levels and easier addition of wood chips without removal of grills
● The firebox divider allows chefs to cook with direct heat on one side while the other chamber can be turned into an effective tandoor
Primo Grills and Smokers
CESA's top five tips
1. Commercial NOT domestic If you are a food service operation it is essential that your equipment - including the barbecue - is commercial grade. Environmental health officers take a very dim view of caterers using domestic equipment.
2. CE mark Make absolutely sure that your barbecue carries the CE safety mark, which indicates that it meets EU safety requirements. It's a mandatory requirement on catering equipment sold in the EU so if it doesn't have the CE mark, it's not legal for you to use.
3. Size Talk to your supplier about the size of equipment you need. As well as cooking on it, do you want zones to keep food hot? The supplier will be able to advise about the size you need for the numbers you are cooking for.
4. Pre-cook food Lots of caterers pre-cook food in the kitchen then finish it off on the barbecue. If you are new to barbecues this is a safe way to cook the food thoroughly, but still give it a barbecue flavour and attract customers with the delicious aroma.
5. Temperature probes These are an easy and safe way to check your barbecued food is cooked properly. Make sure your probe is suitable for use in a commercial operation.
Check out the CESA list of manufacturers at www.cesa.org.uk
● Barbecues are significant profit opportunities - and not just in the summer. Some operators offer them throughout the year, for indoor and outdoor events
● Don't be put off if you've never used one before - a reputable supplier will be able to give you all the information and training you need to get cooking