Memorial Day barbecue problems? Call the Weber Grill hot line

Memorial DayThis Memorial Day weekend, I’m honoring our fallen heroes by exalting the art of grilling. Being a good grill master is how the average American male proves his manhood (in public, that is). Never mind that plenty of women can and do wield the tongs in the family (I do); being unable to operate a barbecue and produce an edible–if not outright delicious–end result is about as emasculating as it gets.

That is why I’m telling you about the Weber Grill hot line (1-800-GRILL-OUT, or email The New York Times reports that the Schaumburg, Illinois-based company receives about 500,000 calls (mostly from men) a year and 75,000 e-mails. Operators–including Ms. Olsen, a 67-year old woman who’s been on the job for 14 years–deal with frantic issues related to everything from improper flaming to how to cook a squirrel.

Memorial Day is the busiest time of the year, but Weber wants people who sell their products to know what exactly they’re dealing with. The Grill Academy opened in Schaumburg in January, in order to educate salespeople about the care and feeding of Weber grills.. According to school director Kevin Kolman, students need to study hard, so they can answer questions such as, “What is the definition of a flavorizer bar?’ or ‘What is the importance of a damper system in a charcoal grill?”

Tough stuff. So should you find yourself slaving over a hot grill this weekend, and things aren’t going as they should, give Ms. Olsen a ring. Or allow your girlfriend or wife to take over.

[Photo credit: Flickr user rachelandrew]

Check out a clip from the UK Weber Grill Academy.

WoodGas Camp Stove: Two Thumbs Up

Yesterday, when sitting on the beach at Echo Lake near Philipsburg, Montana, I thought how a WoodGas Camp Stove would come in handy. These days, Montana is in the midst of forest fire worries and woes. Cooking on open fires isn’t allowed from what some folks who were enjoying the lake along with us said. They were camping at nearby Georgetown Lake. The girl in the family, about nine years-old was feeling a cheated since they havent’ been able to have s’mores. I had the urge to say, “What you need is a WoodGas Camp Stove.”

Possibly, the WoodGas Stove wouldn’t be allowed either since it is meant to be used in accordance with campfire rules, but the great thing about it is the fire is mostly contained inside. There is little danger of a fire starting if you don’t overload the inside with twigs–that’s what we burned when we tried it out (see WoodGas Camp Stove: The Experience) –and if you don’t dump out the ash before it cools down completely.

The other things I like about the WoodGas Camp Stove that I found out for myself are:

  • It’s light
  • It’s easy to use
  • It cooks food quickly and well
  • It’s basically indestructible
  • It’s environmentally friendly
  • It’s stable so it won’t tip easily.
  • It doesn’t require fuel except for kindling size pieces of wood (unless you use One Match which I do recommend)
  • You can use it on a table top, on the beach, on your front walkway (that’s what I did), pretty much anywhere except in enclosed spaces. See warning label.
  • It comes with a warranty
  • It would be perfect for cooking s’mores.