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How did you get started in grilling and smoking.

Discussion in 'Blowing Smoke Around the Smoker.' started by hoangtaybaokiem1993, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. I know that when I was just a young lad my dad would grill hot dogs and hamburgers on one of those little Habachi grills. You know the ones with two small grates and three different levels. This was done every Saturday or Sunday to give mom a day off from cooking. Then he graduated to the round generic charcoal grill and the food went from dogs and burgers to steaks and chicken. After a short time and a rusted out grill he bought another generic grill, but this one had a lid, and the family was introduced to spare ribs. All the coals were started with Kingford lighter fluid. Finally he graduated to a Weber Kettle and a charcoal starter. Gone was the lighter fluid taste in his Q. He never really mastered outdoor cooking, as everything was basically well done to almost burnt. Smoking meat never entered the picture - until. That one day at a friends house. Where he was experimenting with smoking ribs on a Kettle. It peaked my interest, but it also faded just as quickly. Needless to say my friends ribs didn't come out very well, but were better then my dads. Fast forward quite a few years and I saw my first BBQ show on television. I remembered the fond memories of my dad cooking outside, and wanted to share that experience with my own children. So my journey started. I needed a new gasser, but also wanted to use charcoal. I liked the taste of charcoal cooked food over that of a gasser, but still wanted the convenience of a gasser if needed. So I got a Char-grillar duo. After a few years of struggling and modifying it. I was able to put out some Q that was respectable. However I soon tired of babysitting it, and started looking into a better quality smoker. I found a Weber kettlefor sale on the side of the road and offered 20.00 for it. The man took my money and I loaded into my truck. I started grilling/smoking simple foods to start chickens, steaks and such. Then I tried a pork butt. Holy cow!!! the family loved it. After a year or so I wanted a dedicated smoker. So I decided to stay in the Weber family and bought a WSM. Both my kids are now into smoking and we've had many years of relaxing family outdoor time making some pretty decent food and gaining valuable family time. It all started with dad and his little old habachi. It wasn't great, but who knew it would effect my life in a positive way fifty years later.

    So let's hear your who, what, where, when and why.
  2. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. kruizer

    kruizer Smoking Fanatic

    I also started with a hibachi and then went with a gasser for many years and then a OKJ sticker burner. Now I have 3 different smokers and lovin it. Welcome to SMF from Minnesota.
  4. ravenclan

    ravenclan Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I started grilling when i was in the Army stationed in Kaiserslautern Germany. Steaks and hamburgers, hotdogs. I did fair but from then on i was the "cook", my fellow soldiers were not very good at cooking.

    then i got married and had to cook for the family and decided i needed to cook food that would not kill them. I got a propane grill for the speed and ease of starting it up but my neighbor had a Webber charcoal grill. The taste of the food off of that was outstanding and so started my smoking and grilling. BUT life took over and i got out of it.

    Back 15 years ago i started a new job and one guy had an electric cook shack he used to smoke on and i was hooked again.

    Now after five smokers, two electric, propane, pellet, and a stick burner and more nights of overnight smokes then i can remember........I LOVE TO SMOKE FOOD !!!!
  5. hondabbq

    hondabbq Meat Mopper

    Always liked cooking outside on the propane BBQ as a young man. I got the itch about 7 years ago to start making ribs and pulled pork properly to which I needed my first smoker. LBGE.
    I have now added 3 different smokers for different uses.
    I also got tired of the lack of excitement in the aisles for bacon, back bacon, sausages, meat sticks. All the same basic flavors.
    I started venturing into curing, and havent looked back. I make multiple flavors of each and enjoy it more than I am able to eat.
  6. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow the return of memories I too started with a hibachi then did a lot over an open wood fire before my first cheapo charcoal grill then a gasser and a Master Built 40' g as smoker Oh and I had ecb before that. For sure you have learned what a great hobby it is.

  7. Probably when I got married about 21 years ago and my wife bought me a charcoal grill. started there with humble beginnings and moved around and when we finally settled on buying a house I bought a nice Kenmore gas grill that expanded my cooking set and until just last year when I got into smoking when I bought my new smoker/charcoal/gas grill
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As a Baby Boomer, it was part of the American Way for Dad to fire the Grill on the weekend. As his #1 Son, my job was to watch, learn and Go-Fer. We had a Habachi that Dad modified to securely hold Kabobs. He worked HVAC and had access to sheet metal and equipment to fabricate anything he could dream of. We also had one of those cheapo flat dish grills, where the grate was supported of a center post. Any meat placed too close to an edge caused it to lean and put the meat in contact with the charcoal. Dad too used Charcoal Lighter Fluid. We thought SOOT on Hot Dogs was one of the toppings. Later, Dad got an electric starter and the various meats all tasted different without the Oil Refinery aroma Jersey guys know well. Barbecued Ribs were Boiled until tender, covered in Bull's Eye Sauce and turned over screaming hot coals until burnt on. It might seem crazy but, they were some Damn Tasty Ribs, at the time. Every once in awhile, my Smoked Ribs get an extended ride on the Charcoal fired Weber for nostalgic purposes.
    I didn't get into Smoking until after I got married, mid 20's, and saw some cooking shows on Southern Pit Masters and true BBQ. My first smoker was a cheapo bullet smoker. No one around, at the time to teach that the goal was low and slow cooking or Thin Blue Smoke. Fire control was a nightmare, high temps and billowing white smoke made Acrid, Burnt on the outside, Leather Tough Ribs. After some idle time.my MIL and BBQ Show watching buddy, surprised me with a New Braunfels Offset Smoker, for my Birthday. I read some books on smoking and learned about fire control. The food got way better but not amazing. A few years later, I stumbled across SMF and everything changed. The Q went from good to great and eventually the student became the teacher...JJ
  9. I had a lot of similar experiences. I distinctly remember the round charcoal grill on 3 legs. There were 3 height adjustments for the grill. We had an electric starter for the coals. 10 minutes was the max to get the coals going. We mostly did hamburgers and hot dogs on the patio. My dad was not big into grilling so I did a lot of it.

    When my wife and I were first married, we got a hibachi for our apartment. Got an electric starter and fed an extension chord out of the bedroom to start the coals. We didn't have a patio or anything so the hibachi sat on the asphalt drive area. Got our first propane fired grill when we moved into our second house. Took me about 3+ hours to put the think together. It lasted about 8 years before it rotted out. Did our research nd visited a couple of propane dealers in town who delivered the grills assembled! We purchased a Ducane. That Ducane was an absolute workhorse. It lasted over 20 years. I had graduated from hamburgers & hot dogs to steaks, potatoes, ribs and the like. Didn't start smoking until 2005. Purchase a Bachman propane fired smoker. There were successes and failures. It was difficult to control the heat and temperature but I got better. I even did a couple of beef tenderloins that came out really well.

    We moved into retirement in 2016 so the Bachman went to our second son. Our second son beat me to the punch and got a Masterbuilt smoker over a year ago. In a very short amount of time, he has gotten pretty damn good at it. Ribs, brisket, pork chops, chicken and vegetables, especially corn-on-the-cob, are now on his menu. So Santa brought me a Masterbuilt smoker for Christmas. Took over 2 hours to assemble but it worked the first time! So far I've done a nice rack of ribs. Came out great!! We had left overs I took over to our next door neighbors. They raved about the taste and tenderness. And he's a retired chef. Next up is a beef tenderloin. I'll be inviting the neighbors over for that one!
  10. mike243

    mike243 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Started my cooking on a old single burner gas grill that was gifted to me,family was never big on grilling and only had that once in a blue moon at friends house ,bought a sqaure charcoal grill that I cant recall the name of but is still made. I bought a cheap bullet water pan smoker and used that till I made a smoker out of 2 30 gal fuel cans,all this started in the 80's and not sure when it will stop,several more smokers since then along with a 250gal fuel tank smoker on a trailer I will finish this spring,
  11. zwiller

    zwiller Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dad grilled and did a pretty decent job. His shish kabobs were legendary. Wedding gift from some very dear friends was my first gas grill. Got pretty good with it and even dabbled with some wood chips. Always wanted to smoke food but seemed daunting. Somehow (I think an uncle gave me) I got a WSM knock off and tried it. First thing I did was turkey. I had like $30 worth of stuff in the water pan. Cider, brandy, whole spice, oranges, you name it. Brined the bird too. Day I smoked it was cold and windy and never had a chance... Did a butt for daughters first birthday party and it was at least edible after a few hours in the crock. Tried one more time, I think ribs and could never dial it in so I gave up. Many years later BIL was bragging about his smoked food and MES. Started searching/lurking and found myself here often. BIL did some drums one time for a party and I was impressed enough that I got a gasser based on info here (higher temps). Joined here. Got better. Made some good stuff but found I was constantly fiddling and was not good in the winter. Came real close to heavy modding it but decided to try an MES and AMNPS since I read so many good things about them. I think it was Bear that said but once you get to a point where you don't have to worry about the smoking itself it allows you to try new things, and he was exactly right. Instead of ribs a few times a year, I am smoking all sorts of stuff a few times per month.
  12. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, you guys have pretty much already told my story. The father, the cheap dish grill, the lighter fluid and electric lighter, graduation to a Weber, the burgers and kabobs. And the Shitihibachi.

    Before I go on, here's recognition to our fathers who took the initiative to cook with fire in whatever way.


    Anyway, none of that was smoking, even though we had the Weber.

    How I got started on smoking: I have told this before in other threads but I'll put it here.

    I used to caretake a ridgetop property in Knox County, Ohio. There was a cabin, that's another story. Behind the cabin was a heap of clutter which included an 18" Weber with no legs. Otherwise it was in like-new condition. Also in the clutter was a car rim, no tire.

    The Weber fit into the rim like a ball in a socket.

    Now let's move over to the pine woods on the property. These are "plantation pines" planted in rows which can be an excellent campground site where it's very easy to hang tarps and gather firewood. It was on a slope, and the Weber in the rim could pivot to level. We camped and grilled.

    One night I was there alone, with split chicken breasts to grill, but I was too low on charcoal briquettes. I was too cheap and lazy to go to town to buy more. So with saw in hand, I went looking through the plentiful windfall maple, approximately the diameter of my wrist. I made a campfire in the grill, and because I could not reach the bottom vents, I left them wide open. I used the top vent to choke the fire to Thin Blue smoke. (As far as I know, almost no one does that.)

    That was my first-ever taste of grilled/smoked chicken, and I was hooked.

    Since then, I experimented and learned with various grills including a cheap knockoff bullet and a New Braunfels which I suspect was the firebox for a big offset, sold as a stand-alone grill. Seen here roasting habaneros:


    These days I have an offset as I've wanted for many years, and I love it (see sig). Then I rescued a Weber 22, just like the one I grew up with. $10. It arrived in rough shape


    I kept the stock legs, but I've played around with making other legs from 3/4" steel conduit like the Lowboy version
    And the triumphant Strato-Kettle


    I anticipate many years of playing with these rigs.

    Oh one last thing, How did I find SMF? By way of a fishing discussion board, where they would post links pointing to to posts here. When I first browsed this board, it was a bit intimidating, like a bunch of experts. I see a lot of people joining and saying they've been lurking for a while. When they do join, I welcome them to try to assure them that this is a friendly place. Others do that, too.