I'm from the Chicago suburbs and despite being in my 50's have never had freshly smoked meat until last week. A friend prepared chicken breasts and pork chops in a MES. The chicken was SO amazing that it inspired me to find out more about smokers. After some internet research I discovered this fine site! ^_^
My first attempt at smoked meat was a few years ago using my Weber gas grill and a box of wood chips. Being quite ignorant I cooked at 400 like usual and the chips instantly turned to ash imparting no flavor to the meat. I gave up on smoking and tried to use *shudder* liquid smoke instead. Not quite the same effect.
I love good food and working to do a bit extra for superior flavor. I roast my own coffee beans which has forever spoiled me against Starbucks or store bought coffee. I can easily see smoking going this way as well. I tend to keep busy so I want a smoker that only needs occasional tending which I've read means electric.
Current contenders for consideration:
Bradley Digital 4- Rack Smoker - Like the automation, not sure about being locked into chip bricks, expensive
Masterbuilt 30" Black 20070511 - Inexpensive, tend every 20 minutes, needs add-on for cold smoking
VacMaster - Is double the cost of a 140 over a 110 worth it for home use?
I'm fine to spend extra money for better quality if it means it will last longer / work better.
So much to learn!