Hot & haute
Casual Living Staff -- Casual Living, 4/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
For years, patio and barbecue product manufacturers have been giving consumers the option of creating outdoor rooms with indoor qualities, technological advancements and the intrinsic value of convenience. Fast forward to last month's 2012 Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo in Atlanta, and the cutting edge innovations of the outdoor categories are setting the trend bar even higher.
Outdoor grills that rival interior kitchen ranges; patio seating with deep-seating comfort; fire pits adapted into tables and bars; and accessories boasting upgrades and attributes all set the stage for attention-grabbing inventory for retailers and designers alike.
"Homeowners are eager to invest in their homes and lifestyles, and manufacturers are responding to this growing trend with new products, styles and designs at affordable prices," said Leslie Wheeler, director of communications for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).
Whether it is providing safer, more environmental options for consumers, getting your gourmet grill on, supplying products with high-tech improvements or making outdoor spaces more comfortable, these highlights were trendsetters at the show.
Ease of installation and minimized cost without the loss of beauty and functionality was an obvious trend at the HPBExpo. Helping to fuel this trend, FMI Products is putting an iron in the fire - innovative modular accessibility. With the introduction of the company's new Grand Meridian Series, retailers now have an outdoor centerpiece that exemplifies indoor attractiveness and convenience for the outdoors. The Grand Meridian Mosaic Masonry Fireplace features a design approach that subdivides the fireplace system into smaller parts or modules, offering the same handiness of indoor gas-powered logs in a new rustic outdoor unit.
Since masonry fireplaces are the ultimate sign of luxury for many homeowners, yet oft en come with overwhelming costs, this version offers a more cost-efficient model that doesn't sacrifice the look and feel of custom design. The Grand Meridian is a modular masonry fireplace with only half the weight and about half the cost of traditional masonry fireplaces. It is available in various designs and mirrors the time-honored look of an indoor hearth. It features intricately detailed refractory logs and a warm, glowing ember bed to give the appearance of a genuine wood fire.
For the dramatic at heart, Cal Flame introduced the Rings of Fire Firepit, a show stopping triangle firepit with two standing stainless steel rings that overlap to create a breathtaking vertical "circle of fire."
"The 2012 Cal Flame product line is packed with innovative products for every household and budget," said Casey Loyd, president of Cal Spas. "We feel the new product line has all the features consumers are looking for in barbecue and hearth products and will contribute to a successful selling season for our dealer network. Dealers were absolutely blown away by our extensive product line and new product offerings, especially the artistic Rings of Fire triangle firepit."
A good cook never lacks friends, and with the Power Burner by Twin Eagles, a good grill master won't either. The trend of outdoor entertaining has kicked off a new term, "Power Cooking." It reflects outdoor food preparation for larger groups. This two-ring Power Burner caters to the needs of the chef who loves to entertain outdoors. It minimizes the need to prepare certain dishes inside while trying to keep an eye on the grill. The Power Burner was designed to make the dream of an all-encompassing outdoor kitchen a reality.
Twin Eagles has created the Power Burner for cooking needs that require more heat, such as with stockpots or oversized woks. The burner's stainless steel, welded plates provide the intense heat that many chefs seek, and the burner inset can be inverted to hold smaller sauce or heating pans. For slow cook recipes, the burner has low-heat settings for simmering or warming.
Man Law made its debut at HPBExpo this year and featured a heft y collective brand of power barbecue tools and accessories for the macho at heart. Each BBQ Tool is an oversized, heavyweight utensil with large, sturdy handles. The Man Law Manifesto is that "The proper grilling of a $23 porterhouse is a feat to rival the erection of the Great Pyramids, the Hoover Dam, and the brother-in-law's yard shed. Grilling fish or fowl, mere wienie or edible plant life is a serious endeavor. Grilling, thus, requires the proper tools." Serious to be sure, but these guys are having fun with it.
Weber-Stephen returns to its roots with a modern take on the old-school grill. Charcoal is the name of the game when it comes to flavor and Weber scores with the new Performer charcoal grill, enhancing the grilling experience with a durable, built-in lid thermometer and the classic porcelain enameled bowl and lid with a One-Touch cleaning system and high-capacity ash catcher.
One good grill deserves another. RH Peterson had this in mind when addressing the trend of indoor technology and convenience being fully available outdoors - though the company didn't want to leave traditional grill chefs behind. With the invention of its all-new Aurora A830i Gas Charcoal Combo Grill, RH Peterson combines the best of both worlds in outdoor cooking.
This dual-grill appliance offers a gas unit that can achieve exacting precise temperatures, while the charcoal unit provides the flavor and tenderness grillers love from charcoal. The A830i features stainless steel construction which encases 828 square inches of cooking surface. Using a 26,000 Btu gas burner to ignite the charcoal or wood fuel, the unit needs no lighter fluids, eliminating the chemical.
ON THE GO
Bringing the convenience of indoor cooking to the outdoors isn't just a home trend. Consumers are increasingly interested in tailgating and portable cooking options. In the past, portability had its pitfalls, mostly because portable cooking equipment is typically less powerful and food quality can suffer. With this CATA Marketing introduction, retailers now offer a high-heat grilling option for tailgaters and campers.
It's one thing to love steak and another to love cooking steak on the go. Any grill master knows that to cook a steak like a pro, a cooking temperature above 1,000 °F is needed. Not only does the Cook-Air Barbecue-Grill easily reach 1,100°F, it gets there in less than five minutes. The Cook-Air doesn't burn any explosive fuel, coal or propane, making it a safe and ecological choice.
The Best of Times Bar is the creation of Robert DeMars, who designed and licensed the original Q portable barbecue to Weber. After entering the barbeque category, DeMars wanted to create an affordable portable bar and entertainment system with themed "wraps" that every family could afford. So whether you're entertaining on race day in your own backyard or tailgating outside of the stadium - you've got the ultimate "traveler."
The Backsaver Easy-Haul Apron from Condar offers a simple but highly effective aid for transporting fire pit wood for outdoor warmth or firewood for the indoor hearth. This innovative apron is ergonomically designed to be better for your body, and better for getting the task done.
COFFEE TABLE OR FIRE PIT
How about both? This fire table's double-use feature addresses dual trends, the fact that intimate outdoor spaces are becoming more popular and that consumers' desire everything at their fingertips. FireGear is helping change how the outdoor living space is perceived. They know that turning a patio into an outdoor room means providing a space for the same activities that could be enjoyed indoors.
The Key West coffee table offers a 20-inch fire pit with a stainless steel or bronze powder-coated top and several fire bed options. With a removable glass windshield and dining leaf, this diverse fire table can convert into a fl at surface, perfect for outdoor dinner gatherings or cocktail parties. After dining or cocktails, it is easily transformed back into a cozy fire feature. The sleek design is indicative of a luxurious lifestyle for enjoying morning coffee or happy hour with the glow of fire.
The Morrocco Collection from Erwin and Sons gets exotic with a purple deep-seating colorway and fire table that also serves as an anytime table for gatherings.
Today's trend of being hyper-connected via online communications and handheld devises is leading to the desire for more quality time and face-to-face conversation with others. OW Lee's Monterra Chat and Fire Pit Set combines all the necessities for improving the quality of casual outdoor life. The set creates a sense of place with circular or chat-style design for the outdoor room.
A Vesuvius fire pit base paired with a Richmond 54-inch round hearth top in cast aluminum provides the centerpiece. This is surrounded by Monterra Spring Base Club Chairs that provide the deep, plush cradling of indoor easy chairs. Swivel Club Chairs are optional inclusions to the set. This pairing provides coordinated design style at a great price point. Most important, it supplies dealers with the opportunity to offer multiple pieces to customers and aspires to create more cozy gathering places.
Food itself may be one of the most important trends stemming from the HPBExpo, yet it can easily be overlooked. Technology, convenience and style often take center stage when trends are discussed. However, it is the enjoyment of creating and serving delicious foods that is considered the starting point of most any outdoor barbecue or get-together. Big Green Egg knows this trend possibly better than anyone and has made an a rt of outdoor grilling events including this year's HPBExpo Tailgate & Big Green Egg Celebrity Cook-Off that featured five of Atlanta's finest area chefs.
The Big Green Egg grill has many uses, not least of which is the popular trend of grill-made pizza. This innovative champion of the grilling industry has recently introduced a pizza stone insert, which, when used inside the Egg, mimics the traditional brick-oven of Italian eateries. The pizza stone is made from patented components and insulated ceramics that retain heat and moisture, creating the perfect cooking environment for crisp, evenly browned pizza. The Big Green Egg even has a stone designed for deep dish pizza pies.
Numerous exhibitors had a chance to show off their grills and gourmet goodies prepared on them in the Outdoor Burn Area. Carson Rotisseries tackled the art of churrascaria with The Backyard Brazialian Barbecue Experience.