It is an age-old debate as to whether Charcoal or Gas Barbecue is best for your catering event. We hope to solve this conundrum once and for all!
When catering for BBQ’s, our aim is always to provide great food, efficient service and value for money. There are many factors to consider and the equipment that we use can make or break an event. Here are the reasons why:
The die-hard barbecue fanatics out there insist coal fired BBQ tastes better and creates for succulent meat. In 2015, we tested this theory and used a gas barbecue and charcoal fired barbecue with wood chips. To our surprise only 6 out of the 30 guests tasted a difference. We feel the reason is because the length of cooking time of 3-10 minutes is not long enough to produce the distinctive smokey flavor unlike a smoker that requires 1-8 hours cooking time.
Speed of cooking
A typical evening corporate BBQ event starts around 6.30pm finishing at 10pm. From our experience, assuming food service starts at 6.30pm, approximately 80% guests would have eaten by 8pm. With guest numbers typically between 50-300 it is very important that we can feed the guests quickly. We also need the temperature of the grills to be controllable and consistent. We use Cinders gas barbecues – the best in the market. These have adjustable zones that allow for different temperature settings and this helps with controlling the speed of service.
Gas BBQ’s takes around 5 minutes to set up and fire up to temperature compared to charcoal which can take over 40-60 minutes to get to temperature. This is particularly important when timings change during an event or longer events. Gas Barbecues are more reliable in adverse weather conditions and can be switched on and off very quickly. Gas BBQ are also cheaper to run compared to coal. The predictability of heat source also allows for a more consistent end-product.
Charcoal creates more smoke during the set up and throughout the event. Whilst it creates an authentic atmosphere. However, the downside is that the smell of smoke sticks to clothes and to neighbours laundry more so than gas.
Our conclusion: Gas barbecue is the clear winner for caterers. They are easy to operate and mitigates against many risks that can spoil an important corporate or private event and, in our view very little or no difference in the taste compared to charcoal.