With all of the doom and gloom about manufacturing in Australia, it's nice to focus on something positive. All across the country, while big factories are shutting down, skilled craftsmen are carving out new businesses.
With the rise in popularity of Low & Slow BBQ'ing, a new industry is being born. There are several great brands of Australian made smokers and BBQ's, and the future for them seems to be bright.
Recently here at Fired Up BBQ, our attention turned to upgrading our equipment. We have been operating on a smaller, home-sized smoker, or hiring a trailer for our events. Whilst we can turn out high quality BBQ food this way, we just can't cook enough of it! The answer is to invest in a larger trailer smoker.
Where do we go? What do we buy? What are the budget and features we're looking for? Do we buy a ready made, imported machine, or go with a locally built product?
The research process was actually extremely enjoyable. Very early on we made the decision that locally built was the way to go. With so many builders here, and new ones seemingly opening up all the time, why look to an imported product? You need only look at competition results to see that the likes of Silver Creek, Radar Hill, Bullockhead Creek etc feature heavily.
The hardest part of the research process was narrowing down the search. With pit builders spread across the nation, we only wanted to actually visit 2 or 3 of them. Radar Hill were just too busy (a victim of their success perhaps?), and a few others wouldn't have been able to start our build for quite some time.
We narrowed down our list to 2 builders in Melbourne (Silver Creek and Manhorne), and Bullockhead Creek from Brisbane. We booked in a whirlwind weekend of BBQ tourism, and set off.
This is where the decisions got really REALLY hard. We first met Paul from Silver Creek Smokers in Melbourne. A nicer bloke you will struggle to meet. His smokers are absolute works of art, and his knowledge of Low and Slow is mind blowing. One could spend hours chatting BBQ with Paul, and we did! He has probably been building smokers longer than anyone in Australia, and builds everything from small home units, to the monster at Fancy Hanks Restaurant.
Next morning, it was a quick drive down the freeway to visit Adam from Manhorne Smokers. The photos on his website of his own personal smoker, "Meat Wagon" are inspiring. We were looking for a setup with all of the bells and whistles, and his smoker certainly ticks that box.
It's always awesome to chat to a craftsman who is proud of his work, and great to see some of the features and benefits they can point out. Adam is very proud of the paint finish he does, and rightly so. He jokes that the only way to find out his paint secret is to purchase one of his smokers! Fair enough. Also, the laser cut doors are an awesome touch. This decision definitely wasn't getting any easier.
Quick run back to the airport, and hop a plane to Brisvegas. Another quick hire car drive and we were at the Bullockhead Creek Smokers factory. Craig, for anyone who hasn't met him, is a larger than life character. Another bloke who has turned his passion for Low and Slow into thriving business.
Craig's love for low and slow is infectious. He just loves chatting about anything to do with smoking, and also about the actual pit-building process. He didn't bat an eyelid at any of our strange and unusual requests for features, and nothing seemed to be a problem. One of the most impressive things about Bullockhead Creek is the efficiency with which they get things done. We were leaning on a piece of pipe, sitting on a trailer frame on a Saturday afternoon. Only a few days later, we saw pictures of a finished, painted, functional trailer-pit on his Instagram page. This man does not muck around!
Ultimately, we could have had any of these guys build us our new pit. I am 100% certain that any of them would have turned out a product of which we could be proud to own. Ultimately, based on speed, flexibility, value and general good vibes, we chose Craig and the team at Bullockhead Creek to build us our monster pit. Work is well underway, and we can't wait to unveil it to the public. We will start posting progress pics as soon as they become available. Watch this space!!