Do you go gas or charcoal? For Brad McElroy, the man who started The Barbecue Store in Thailand in the mid-1990s, it’s definitely gas.
Brad says he opened The Barbecue Store out of personal necessity. “When we couldn’t find a decent barbecue in Thailand, I started importing them.” He imports directly from the manufacturers.
“I grew up cooking over a charcoal barbecue. But I tired of the smoke following me around so I switched to the convenience of a gas-fired barbecue where the food is cooked over hot lava or ceramic rocks. The rocks quickly heat up, temperature is controllable and the food cooked to perfection.”
A tradition mainly associated with America and Australia, the outdoor barbecue has grown increasingly popular in Thailand where there is a year round perfect climate for outdoor cooking and entertaining. Whether it’s a quick no fuss meal or the full social event, barbecuing is simply a great way to enjoy food with family and friends.
Not only expats are rushing out to buy these high-tech, portable cooking machines, Thais are also developing a taste for food cooked at home outdoors and Brad says they make up around 50 percent of the Barbecue Store’s customers.
Barbecues are becoming one of the latest “must-have” accessories. Houses and many of the new condominiums dotting the local skyline feature new gas barbeques on balconies or beside swimming pools.
Most of these barbecues are family size but others are smaller and can fold up against a wall if space is tight. Prices for smaller gas barbecues start from 4,500 baht for a unit which folds up and is portable.
On the other end of the scale, up-market villas with pools and sala’s focusing on an outdoor lifestyle, have substantial barbecues of stainless and granite resembling outdoor kitchens. These owners are out to seriously impress. They demand the best in quality and presentation.
Although charcoal traditionalists may disagree, a charcoal-filled smoking clay pot covered with wire grate may look a little out of place at the poolside of a sprawling modern villa.
“We have many expatriate customers, particularly families that have moved to Thailand and miss their evening and weekend barbecues,” says Brad.
He added, “Interestingly a lot of our Thai customers who were educated overseas discovered barbecuing while they were away. Or they’ve heard about the tradition and are keen to try it.”
Many hotels and restaurants are also customers of The Barbecue Store. You can find their barbecues at poolsides and outdoor dining areas. An increasingly popular option offered by some of the more exclusive hotels is a barbecue and chef for private dining.
Barbecue owners are proud to show off their new lifestyle acquisition. It doesn’t take long to learn a few basic skills to impress your friends or family. Over 50 barbecue accessories including a range of cooking utensils and cleaning tools as well as interesting items such as pizza stones are available to enhance your barbecuing experience.
Today’s barbecues are state-of-the-art and the latest models feature both stainless and cast grills and Teppanyaki hotplates, hoods that turn them into ovens, and a wide range of accessories to make cooking easy and hassle-free.
Brad advises that with a bit of care, a decent barbecue should last many, many years. Importantly your supplier should be able to provide international quality and safety accreditations and back up their product with decent warranties, service and spares as well as convenient payment options.
The Barbecue Store’s business has expanded in Thailand and into neighbouring countries. Although they advertise, most business comes from referrals. Their top line units are supplied by Barbecues Galore, Australia’s largest specialist barbecue retailer, which has been in the business many years and have over 100 outlets.
For more information on where to buy your barbecue in Thailand check out The Barbecue Store website at www.bbqthai.com. On-line ordering and payment is available.
You can check out their extensive range of barbecues and accessories at their showrooms in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin. If you wish to call them their number here in Bangkok is 02 662 6665. They stock hundreds of barbecues and distribute to their branches weekly, so delivery to customers is immediate.