The Backyard Debate

A decision every grill master must make.

Photography Curtis Comeau; custom brand courtesy of Front Step Forge

Before you even decide what meat you’re going to buy and grill up for dinner, there’s an important decision every barbecue or grill master has to make – gas or charcoal? There’s no right or wrong answer, it just depends on what you’re looking for.


For many charcoal champions, the flavour is key. Every butcher unanimously agreed that charcoal just gives the meat a certain something, a little extra natural flavour. However, if you’re looking for a little extra flavour on the gas grill, you can slather on a great marinade or spice blend.


If you’re looking to get dinner on the table quickly, or serve up burgers to a crowd, gas is the winner when it comes to speed. You turn it on with the press of a button, and it reaches the right temperature very quickly. Charcoal, on the other hand, requires a bit more time to become ready for cooking.


Charcoal is a bit of an art form – there are certain gadgets like chimney starters that can help the process, but you need a bit of know how to tend the hot briquettes. Gas, on the other hand, is nearly foolproof – once you know how to turn it on, you just turn it to the correct temperature and you’re all set for grilled perfection.


When Acme Meat Market got Mangalitsa pork in the store, a fattier breed than typical pork, owner Corey Meyer wanted to try cooking it at home. It was a leisurely Sunday where he had plenty of time on his hands, so he decided to fire up the charcoal barbecue. He tossed the pork on, sat back with a brew, and quickly found himself doing damage control. “It had so much fat that it started dripping down onto the coals and flaring up – I thought I was going to burn my garage down! I had to rearrange the coals while they were insanely hot, flames shooting up. The next time I did it on my propane [grill]. If it starts to flare up, you just turn that burner off – it’s way easier to control the flame, and the heat in general,” says Meyer.

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