Grilling Out To Impress

Posted on May 29, 2006

In an article entitled "Pimp My Grill", The New York Times delves into the latest suburban obsession: having a bigger and better grill than the guy next door. The article examines the lives of men who think that grilling out is somehow cool.
A Kalamazoo grill can suck a standard tank of propane dry in two and a half hours. Not that backyard grill-users would want to crank every burner simultaneously and reach the full 154,000 B.T.U. capacity of this $11,290, six-and-a-half-foot-wide brute. But, as with a Porsche that can go 175 miles an hour on the autobahn, some owners find it sweet to know they've got that kind of juice under the hood.

"Our gas line had to be doubled in capacity from the house," said Connie Dove of York, Me. She and her husband, Mo Houde, took delivery last year of a Kalamazoo Bread Breaker Two Dual-Fuel grill with an infrared rotisserie cradle system and a side burner. They hooked the 600-pound stainless steel hulk into their home's main propane supply, choosing not to mess with standard tanks, which each hold only four gallons of fuel. That's enough to allow a typical backyard grill to run at maximum for 15 hours, according to the Propane Education and Research Council in Washington. "It is very, very powerful," Ms. Dove said. "A turkey you can have in an hour and a half."

The Bread Breaker, which has a temperature gauge that reaches 1,000 degrees, is one of an increasingly popular breed of supergrills that are becoming backyard status symbols, as Americans, mostly of the male variety, peacock with an object that harks back to the earliest days of human existence. As Memorial Day marks the official beginning of grilling season, many men will find themselves almost genetically drawn to throwing hunks of raw meat onto a fire and poking them with tongs. It's a pull that some will spend almost any amount of money to satisfy, said Pantelis A. Georgiadis, the owner of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, the grill manufacturer based in Michigan. "There is a market segment we call the 'man cook with fire' types," he said.

When Daniel Conrad, a lawyer, moved to Dallas four years ago from Pittsburgh to join the woman who would become his wife, his parents bought him a small Weber grill. "It wasn't big enough for my ego," Mr. Conrad, 34, said. "So I got this giant enormous Weber grill." Now, he rushes home to his wife and to his baby, a Weber Summit Gold D6, to slow-cook ribs or experiment with smoking turkeys. "Grilling has become my creative outlet," Mr. Conrad said. "The only two extravagances I have in my life are my car and my grill." He drives a Mercedes. flash: you're a suburban dad who's grilling out. By definition, the Coolness Factor is a big negative one. Sorry guys, but it's the truth. You never see George Clooney grilling out on some ridiculously large contraption -- he has a chef that does that. And after the feast is prepared, a devoted Italian staff brings him his grilled meat on the terrace of his villa on Lake Como. Now that's impressive.