- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2007

rills and the Fourth of July are hot: It’s one of the best ways to enjoy summer holidays, savor the outdoors and get the most out of the season’s longer days.

“People are working more and longer hours and commuting, and [grilling] is their only chance to be outside,” says Kelly Stieff, owner of KMI Design Associates, an interior design firm in Leesburg, Va. She is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)in Northeast.

Grillers have more options when it comes to purchasing a new grill than they did three to four years ago, says Mike West, principal of BBQ Island Outdoor Products, a builder of prefabricated outdoor kitchens based in Gilbert, Ariz.

“With all of the options, who wants to cook inside?” Mr. West asks.

Grills can be free-standing on wheels or built into a larger cooking center with kitchen amenities, and they come in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, aluminum, cast porcelain, cast aluminum and cast iron, Mr. West says. Stainless steel grills range in quality; 304-grade stainless steel contains more nickel and less steel, which prevents rust, than the less expensive 400 series, he says.

Grills can be fueled by charcoal, gas or electricity, Mr. West says. Many traditionalists like to use charcoal for the flavor, but an electric grill is easier to use, and it meets the flame restrictions for many condominiums and apartments, he adds.

Opting for a grill that is reliable, durable and able to maintain a consistent cooking temperature is the best option for frequent grilling, but any grill will work for the occasional griller, says Jeff Clevand, marketing manager of Broilmaster Premium Gas Grills, based in Belleville, Ill.

“The ability for a grill to perform and to perform consistently is important,” Mr. Clevand says. “If it’s consistent, you can plan meals instead of second-guessing what time it might be done.”

The quality of the material of the grill’s exterior and of the burners is the most important consideration, says Kevin Cunningham, president and founder of Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens, a division of Geneva Partners Inc. in Geneva, Ill.

“Those are the two things that will fail faster than anything else on the grill,” Mr. Cunningham says.

Burners on high-end grills are made of materials such as solid red brass or titanium stainless steel, while lower-end versions are made of stainless steel, he says.

Depending on the features selected, the price for built-in grills ranges from $750 to $4,000, Mr. West says.

“You’re going to have an array of different pricing based on quality. It really depends on … name brand and the features you want,” he says.

In general, free-standing models start around $400, Ms. Stieff says.

Midrange and high-end grills offer a variety of features, such as a rotisserie burner, a convection option to cook foods evenly, an integrated smoker box with a dedicated burner, and an infrared sear zone to cook food at a high, intense heat in half the normal grilling time, Mr. West says.

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