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Warm Your Cockles On A Winters Night With Outdoor Catering Equipment

Sep 17, 2008
I'm a massive fan of car boot sales, fetes and festivals. I like being outdoors and like being entertained in the fresh air especially under a bright blue sky. One of my favourite past times at these events, and just about anywhere I go is dining al fresco. There is something exhilarating about dining outdoors, whether it is a hot dog from a high street vendor or a purveyor of fine organic tempura serving up a dish of lightly fried aubergine at a festival on the South Downs.

My fascination with dining under the sky essentially started with camping experiences as a child on bonfire night. Making a fire and cooking up a pot of stew; indulging in the comfort of the warmth whilst wearing hat, gloves and watching the steam rise from my hot tin cup. Cooking up jacket potatoes wrapped in foil and eating the obligatory toasted marshmallows on a stick. This was soon complimented by more grown up experiences at beach front restaurants involving slightly more sophisticated cuisine being consumed in the open.

It is not just eating the food outside that appeals to me, but the food being cooked outside too; obviously, some innate instinct from the days of cave dwelling no doubt. A barbecued pork chop tastes infinitely better than a flame grilled one. One could argue that it is the use of coals, or wood to create a certain flavour, but outdoor catering equipment these days is often a gas powered weatherproof version of what can be found in the kitchen. It's the fresh air that does it, I am convinced.

The thing that impresses me the most is the range of catering equipment available to cope with an outdoor environment, especially when we are talking about events in the British summer season! It is not just outdoor barbeques, but griddles, woks, potato ovens and bread ovens. Frequenting a range of outdoor events this year, I can assure you that there was not one feature missing from the culinary repertoire, and all were equipped not just for a day out, but weeklong events. Noodles, tagines, fry-ups, candyfloss, doughnuts, pizza, pasta, curry, tempura, paella, pasties and fresh baked cake were all on the menu, besides many other things. You get the picture I'm sure.

Catering equipment has to be robust and versatile, and although there is a huge range of ovens and griddles, broilers and servers out there, it is possible to equip oneself with some basic items that will cater for a wide range of cooking styles. If you consider the variety of foods that can be made with a fire on the open plains, it's just a leap of convenience being equipped for outdoor cooking. Think like a cowboy and remember all the hints and tips from the legend that is Ray Mears; he has shown that even basic survival does not have to mean going without and that often a basic few ingredients can make a marvellous meal to be had under an open moon.

From a practical point of view, a small gas powered hob is the only major bit of cooking equipment needed, with spare gas canisters or gas bottles to ensure the fuel doesn't run out. A griddle attachment is a light and easy attachment to take and will allow for a wider variety of foods to be cooked. Depending on the number of people being catered for and the type of cuisine on the menu a two or four ringed hob will hold all the cooking equipment needed. Make sure to get nestling cooking pots, and a shallow frying pan that has a lid. Each vessel can then double up its uses for boiling, frying, stewing and warming allowing you to put your culinary skills where your mouth is and dish up a perfect supper.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is an expert in the catering industry.
Find out more about catering equipment and buy all you need to cater al fresco at Ascot Wholesale.
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