Check out the latest in backyard barbecuing and outdoor cooking.
By John RihaMore in Outdoors
If your idea of the great outdoors is to cuddle up with a chilled beer while the briquettes come up to speed, you’re certainly in good company. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), more than 75 percent of all U.S. households include an outdoor grill or smoker.
While that stat is impressive, it’s only part of the story. Today, more Americans than ever are taking advantage of backyard outdoor living, bringing their culinary skills — and just about everything else—with them.
“The kitchen has always been the heart of the home,” says Mitch Slater, owner of Danver Stainless Steel Cabinetry in Wallingford, Conn. “But that idea has started to take hold outdoors. More people want outdoor living areas, with fully functional kitchens as opposed to just the rolling barbecue cart.”
Although outdoor living has been trendy ever since the Weber kettle-style grill first appeared more than half a century ago, the alfresco movement has reached epic proportions in the last several years. In fact, Weber’s Grill Watch Survey, an annual third-party study of outdoor home cooking, notes that spending on outdoor appliances is up more than 8 percent this year over last season, a remarkable figure given the recent state of the economy.
The fact that more Americans are cooking outdoors is impressive, but the real phenomenon is how they’re doing it. Two words: big time. The entire outdoor “leisure lifestyle” industry now nets $6.2 billion annually — up 5.4 percent compared to 2002.
Makers of grilling products are definitely riding the wave, says Leslie Wheeler, communications director for the HPBA. “The overriding trend now is flexibility,” notes Wheeler. “People want options, and manufacturers are responding with a wide range of accessories and add-ons at all prices.”