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altToday, many yacht clubs and marinas are discouraging the use of propane BBQs at the dock. The pain of running your entrées down to the communal BBQ, then having to either wait in line for your turn, or placing your delicately marinated lobster on right after someone else had smothered the grill with Pappy’s Moonshine Madness Barbecue Sauce, becomes even more upsetting when you have to leave your guests on board instead of having them witness the artistry of your culinary magic.

Experimenting with Kuuma’s New Dual-Fuel BBQ

In perhaps our toughest assignment to date, the Galley Guys once again go on board the familiar surroundings of Cynergy – Canadian Yachting’s Special Event Boat (in partnership with Angus Yachts of Toronto and Hunter Marine Corporation) – and with moral support from a few friends, we assembled the dream team of European-trained Chef Adrian Vogt from Trident Catering (also the resident chef at The Etobicoke Yacht Club in Toronto), the very knowledgeable and always entertaining Eddie Sokoloff representing Churchill Cellars and Graham Toms, Eastern Canada Manager for Payne’s Marine Group, (products available at chandleries across Canada) and Canadian distributor of this radical new barbecue.

Our mission was to find out if we could prepare an absolutely stunning, three-course gourmet meal using only the electric element in this new stainless steel Kuuma hybrid barbecue.

The term “hybrid’ usually means compromise: in cars, better fuel efficiency but less power; light beer usually means fewer calories but less flavour. Our worry with this hybrid barbeque was by gaining more versatility would we end up with insufficient heat to properly prepare a great meal? Propane BBQs are a tried and proven cooking platform. I recall an episode on the TV sitcom Home Improvements, when comedian Tim Allen presented the Binford 429 BBQ that was both very manly and very powerful. The steaks were cooked in record time, however the results were badly charred and totally inedible. Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, Allen’s character would simply not make it as a boater. BBQing on a boat is a compromise from the “get go” and our challenge was to see if this new innovation delivers a more pleasant, social dining experience without compromising quality.

Chef Adrian was offered and accepted the challenge of selecting the menu, and prepare and BBQ a meal fit for the Galley Guys and a few close friends.

In what seemed like mere seconds, Graham had attached the sturdy bracket to the back rail of Cynergy and the Kuuma hybrid barbecue was installed. An extension cord was run, the connections were made and the electric element was switched on. We left it to warm up.

While the Kuuma heated up, we watched Chef Adrian lay out his tools in the spacious galley of the Hunter 45 while Eddie successfully distracted everybody by starting the evening off with a delightful glass of Pol Roger champagne. While sipping champagne, there was speculation on the outcome of serving lobster tails and marinated beef fillets to eight hungry boaters prepared on this relatively small BBQ.

Then, Adrian got dinner started with a salad course – a Boston Bib salad with thinly sliced Asian pear and Cambazola cheese in maple vinaigrette that he had created using herbal vinegar from his native Switzerland, spices and a maple reduction. Rising to the challenge this mouthwatering salad presents, Eddie opened with a Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Riesling Kabinett – a German wine that seemed sweet at first but then had a delightful fruity finish that balanced perfectly with the maple vinaigrette and the Cambazola cheese.

Now, back to the grill where Chef Adrian had lined up eight seasoned and marinated lobster tails. As they cooked slowly, he brushed them with a bit of butter.

The gentle heat level offered by the electric grill was ideal, keeping the lobster tails succulent but not overdone. Chef Adrian moved the lobster tails to stay warm in Cynergy’s galley oven while he replaced them on the grill with the marinated beef fillets. Meanwhile, in the galley, he also warmed the medley of roasted vegetables and the prepared individual servings of sweet potato soufflés. We were quite impressed with how evenly the Kuuma cooked the lobster tails and steaks.

Eddie, in the meantime, had opened a Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir and also a Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel – both from California. This posed yet another challenge: which was the more interesting match with the flavours of the dinner?

We started with the Mondavi Pinot Noir. It’s a middle line wine from that house and it was earthy and elegant. The seasoned lobster stood up to the red wine nicely while the steak and sweet potato soufflé were heavenly together.

Eddie described the Ravenswood Zinfandel (a red – not pink wine) as the iconic California Zin. It was spicy, mouth-filling and big enough for the steak yet still comfortable with the lobster. Chef Adrian noted that the sweet potato cuts the tannins in the wine, “They work so well together”. It’s astonishing that he could deliver everything with such perfection. The dinner was worthy of the finest restaurant kitchen.

As we relaxed and discussed the Kuuma Hybrid’s versatility, Chef Adrian laid out a splendid light summer dessert of crepes (prepared in advance) filled with fresh wild berries, marinated in Grand Marnier and served with a mango chutney. This was all the more memorable when Eddie paired the dessert with a Clairette de Die – a sparkling wine from the Rhone region made with Muscat grapes.

The group agreed: it was ‘mission accomplished’ for the Kuuma Hybrid. In either propane or electric modes, you too can prepare simply fabulous meals onboard or on shore. Of course it helps to have a classically trained European chef serving the finest ingredients with a series of skillfully matched wines, but to the Galley Guys, this is what it’s all about!

The yachting lifestyle deserves the support of a creative galley! Go forth and dine in style on your boat!

About the Kuuma

The electric element has no open flame and generates a bit less heat than the propane version, which can be quite intense on a relatively small grill. The manufacturers claim that the Kuuma Hybrid has 160 sq. in. of cooking surface and in propane mode, can generate 13,000 BTU. We liked several of its key features.

Clips on either side, lock the lid down. The legs fold up and keep the drip pan from sliding out as you carry it. The large steel lid handle is strong and didn't get hot during use. To carry the barbecue, clip it together, grab the handle and away you go. With a small portable propane cylinder it's even easier to take a Kuuma Hybrid to picnic in a location away from your boat. .

The lower heat level of the electric grill (compared to propane mode) can be an advantage. Chef Adrian explained in detail how it was best to quickly pan-sear the steaks, then cook them slowly for maximum tenderness. Another suggestion Chef offered was to pan-sear the steaks at home (or before freezing for an extended voyage) as part of your meal’s preparation. In addition he anticipated that the electric grill would be more than adequate to cook fish and poultry entrees.