The love of cooking in the open air has led to a host of creative cooking styles as well as perfectly designed tools that make outdoor dining even more interesting – from the Kamado grill to the fire bowl, and from fried salad to infra-red steaks. What’s more, there is plenty of fashionable and practical tableware to create unforgettable summer nights, whether out in the garden or on the balcony.
Cooking outdoors means stress-free grilling, smoking, baking or gentle simmering in an instant. Classic gas and charcoal barbecues continue to be bestsellers in ever more cleverly designed versions to fit the urban lifestyle. A gas barbecue no longer has to look like a monster truck; there are elegant mini-solutions with two burners perfect for a city balcony. Portable barbecues are no longer just sold at petrol stations, they can also be found in curated designer stores. For example, there is the Una-Grill, the crowd-funding result of a Dutch start-up created by friends who were inspired by negative experiences with a cheap aluminium barbecue in a city park. But lovers of traditional fires can also enjoy sophisticated product design. The combination of fire bowl and grill is perfect – and once dinner has been served, the campfire can continue to blaze away happily.
Hot ovens: from traditional smokers to the latest high-tech gear
We’ve come a long way from the simple kettle barbecue. Designers are devising more and more new ideas for developing the concept to create new cooking styles: for instance, smoked cedar wood planks for grilling fish, bread/pizza stones and special table-top grills for a Korean-style BBQ. The barbecue community is also being wowed by completely new types of grill. In addition to high-tech top-down-heat barbecues such as the “Beefer” and “Steak Reactor”, in which steaks are speed-grilled in seconds at 800ºC using infrared technology, traditional barbecuing methods such as the Asian Kamado grill are also gaining in popularity. The egg-shaped ceramic oven stores heat (adjustable from 60ºC to 350ºC) and circulates air to gently cook, grill or smoke meat or fish to perfection. Another great invention (which will also be welcomed by neighbours) is the smokeless charcoal barbecue from Lotus, in which the air circulates through battery-powered fans instead of belching out smoke – and which is now also available in a mobile XXL version.
Just one barbecue? That’s nowhere near enough!
More and more these days, people want several special items of outdoor cooking kit in the garden. The possibilities offered by these appliances provide inspirations for lots of new dishes. A small charcoal pizza oven for baking and cooking fits wonderfully next to a classic barbecue, and a fire bowl looks great next to a gas barbecue. Every season sees a host of new accessories – as confirmed by BBQ blogger Kevin Theermann, who runs the popular barbecue blog “”Onkel Kethe”. A quick look into his well-equipped garden reveals not only his homemade “Ugly Drum Smoker” but also a diverse range of other appliances. “Cool barbecue equipment is more in demand than ever,” says Theermann, a chef by trade. “I’m a huge fan of the ‘ring of fire’. A griddle platter offers many of the things that barbecuing is all about – sitting comfortably together, enjoying good food and having a great time.” The griddle is clearly not just for steaks. Vegetables, cheese and crunchy salads such as Romana hearts are just as happy on the barbie as pineapples, peaches and other fruit.
Smaller accessories also help to make cooking outdoors easier, e.g. with special forks for preparing pulled pork, meat weights, special barbecue knives and many other tools to inspire the barbecue master.
The philosophy when it comes to serving up – whether at the table or on the picnic blanket – is “keep it simple but stylish”. Rustic earthenware plates, wooden dishes and tapas bowls rub shoulders with sophisticated items such as crystal glasses and etageres. And if you decide to use handy to-go cutlery made of cardboard or bamboo for picnics in the park, this too is elegantly designed and sustainably produced. The most important thing is simply to have a good time. This is precisely the concept behind the Beef! Grill + Bar which opened in Frankfurt in June 2018, a collaboration between the Gruner + Jahr cooking magazine and Mövenpick Marché. Steak and vegetables are creatively prepared here on the open grill and served in an open, casual ambience.
Header image: UNA Grill