I have always wanted a nice charcoal grill at the beach. I grew up in two homes that both had brick barbecue grills outdoors, and both of those grills were poorly designed, which meant they were rarely, if ever used. The culprit? My parents had them built with a decorative brick (you know those thin bricks used on house facades in the 60’s and 70’s) which doesn’t really retain heat, and worse, they chip and break quite easily. But the aesthetics weren’t as much of a problem as the lack of airflow. The coals rested on the brick floor, and without an air source BELOW the coals, they had trouble getting enough air to keep the fire going. It’s the same reason street side bbq grills need a fan to constantly fan air/oxygen to the coals to keep them blazing hot.
If you dissect your Weber/kettle grill, you’ll notice that the coals are placed on a second grill, and air flows up and through the coals, making for really nice heat, while ashes fall to a plate below. Our Weber grills at the beach corrode quickly from the sea air and need to be replaced every couple of years, hence the desire for a more permanent solution…
The perfect opportunity/setting presented itself when we got rid of an old generator and the humongous cement base was just sitting there. We added some cement to make a countertop, threw in a simple sink, and made two areas for grilling and turning a small lechon or boneless lechon or chickens on a spit. We used really good fire bricks to retain heat and pre-fab cast iron grills from our stainless steel supplier in Cebu and in less than 10 days we had this almost finished grill station.
We can prep crab, fish, shrimp on the cement counter for immediate consumption or the deep freeze to later take to Manila. We can prepare all the ingredients for a barbecue right here next to the grilling station. I can’t wait to try it for the first time once it is all done.
Considering that 2/3 of the cement was “re-purposed”, this didn’t cost that much to make, and after a few years, it will have paid for itself when compared with constantly replacing the kettle grills. The most pricey part of the equation were the firebricks at PHP54 each, and we used roughly 110 of them or so.
With this much grill capacity, however, we can easily cook up enough food for 30-40 people at a single meal, and we rarely, if ever, have had that many people at the beach at any one time. Maybe a mini-eyeball for 8 people with paella and boneless lechon demo/lunch would be a good thing, no? :)