A few months ago, when Max was safely out of the country, I did something so shocking that it’s turned our 10-year relationship on its axis.

Just give 'em another half an hour or so… Pic: Mark Cranitch

I pensioned off our flame-throwing, four-burner, char-beast from hell and bought a WeberQ (with built-in thermometer and a higher lid to allow for the baking of large roasts).

The time had come. While it had been nice to sit back and watch Max reducing scotch fillets to crusts of carbon, I always dreamed of a better way.

You see, barbecuing is a bit like high cholesterol. It’s in my blood.

My Dad was the only man I’ve ever known to actually design a home extension around his barbecue.

Yes, Donnie built a room inside the house to the specifications of his four-burner Jackaroo, proving that with a large extraction fan and a patient wife, anything is possible.

We had decades of fun watching Dad around his hotplate, tongs in one hand and Riesling and soda in the other – bantering for hours until that final fried egg on toast heralded the end of another chop-filled summer’s evening.

So I suppose it was inevitable that I’d one day want a barbie to call my own; to recapture a little of that gas-bottle gaiety of my youth.

The moment came when I saw the WeberQ in a crowded BBQ showroom catalogue: taupe lid; dinky curved design; slim-line stationary cart.

True, you need to sell a kidney to afford WeberQ accessories. (And don’t tell Max, but I actually bought mine without realising it came with griddle plate only, and Dad’s fried eggs just don’t seem the same without a hotplate.)

But my, she does look fine on the veranda. And give or take the odd “Hmmm-Lainie-this-isn’t-exactly-what-I’d-call-medium-rare” steak, she cooks like a dream too.

As a BBQ, I think she’s perfect.

Except for one tiny problem: Max won’t touch her.

With his second-hand scorching machine gathering dust amid other piles of crap in the shed, he refuses to don an apron or raise a tong.

Desperate to lure him back to the flame, I emailed him at work to ask what was so wrong with the Weber. Here was his reply:

#1: It has no flame. Most men are unreconstructed cave dwellers and nothing makes us happier than a fire under a sizzling haunch of animal. Your WeberQ has reduced all this to a muted blue whimper. 

#2: It’s too small. Barbecues should have a proper work surface – an expanse of iron on which meats, potatoes, onions, etc. can be carefully and strategically moved. It should have generous side decks for seasoning, cooking irons and beer. It should also accommodate large groups of men who stand around holding forth on subjects of great importance. Can men gather around a WeberQ? I think not.

#3: It only has one knob. It cannot be a barbecue if it only has one knob. It should look like the flight deck of a 747.

#4: It works. Where’s the thrill of knowing you can ruin an entire event with a badly-controlled flame or a mistimed steak?

Back in the ’70s, to celebrate a special occasion, Dad rang Mum to say he’d bought her a surprise.

“I spent hours imagining all sorts of things he might have bought me,” Mum recalls. “He came home with a Big Bertha BBQ. Sure saved me a lot of cooking though.”

What a pity my new WeberQ has achieved exactly the opposite.

Clearly I’ve hit a snag.

Comments on this post will close at 6pm AEDST.

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    • Peter says:

      05:57am | 30/12/12

      All I can say to Max is, get your hand off it! Seriously, does it really matter whether a BBQ is gas, wood or coals? If a line needs to be drawn, then it is with electric BBQ’s! Which is basically an upside down grill. This is a real bastard when making cheese on toast. It makes such a mess.
      As far as the size goes, the WeberQ is a little on the small size and when it comes to entertaining a number of guests, it could prove impractical. As far as everyday use, then it is big enough. From a mans point of view, the WeberQ is just too small. I would prefer at least a four burner. It is the way nature made us!

    • Al says:

      09:55am | 30/12/12

      Peter - I’m not sure that matters would be the right word but a wood or coal BBQ does provide an additional flavouring to what you are cooking. I personaly prefer gas though.
      While the size of a WeberQ may be an issue, I am always surprised by those who insist on a BBQ that requires the entire thing to be heated when they are only using a quater of it. One of the main reasons I prefer gas.
      A lot of the ‘features’ of a webberQ can be done with a cheaper BBQ with a small amount of effort (the thermometer..ever heard of a roasting thermometer, the cover to cook roasts..just a bit of thin metal etc).
      About the only thing I would want in addition to a hotplate with burners underneath(and don’t know if a webberQ actualy has the option anyway) is the ability to cook a spit roast, and you can set this up fairly cheaply as well, as long as you can remove the hotplate.

    • acotrel says:

      06:01am | 30/12/12

      I often wonder about the wisdom of eating charred meat and drinking alcohol at the same time.  There is only one known way to reliably cause cancer in test animals.  It is by applying benzo-a-pyrene in combination with phorbol esters.  The latter is a promoter, and alcohol is known to play the same role in causing cancer.  The carcinogen BAP is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon which is often found in products of combustion, such as tar - could occur on you home barbecue ?

    • Gregg says:

      08:59am | 30/12/12

      The secret might be just a little charring and you up the alcohol for more charring to wash it through your system quicker.
      All in moderation to enjoy dying which we are all on the road to from the day we’re conceived.

    • acotrel says:

      10:44am | 30/12/12

      The combination of smoking and alcohol is not good. Why would you choose to increase the risk that way ? When you eat charred food at a barbecue, it is only one exposure, it is not in the same league as smoking a pack per day in the pub..

    • Gaz says:

      06:28am | 30/12/12

      My wife did the exact same thing here, bought me a weber q for my birthday so we could ditch the two burner bargain that I bought when I used to be a bachelor. I don’t like it either. Sure it does do steak and sausages well but that’s where it ends. When I complained that you couldn’t cook eggs on it she bought an egg cooking plate that takes about 2 hours to get hot enough to cook an egg. There’s no room on it or around it and it was expensive. I sure she only bought it because it looks good. What’s with cooking roasts in BBQs anyway? Its a lot more stuffing around, and they taste any better than they do out of the oven. Come to think of it it’s just as easy to cook steak inside nowadays too. I used to love cooking a steak, eggs and bacon on the verandah with a can but now it’s just too hard

    • TerryG of PK says:

      12:35pm | 30/12/12

      My first impression upon reading this piece and as you mentioned was, Lainie wanted a shiny new appliance adorning the patio area not a weathered unit which is in their eyes, is out of place with the surroundings. To think that this new appliance will suddenly turn charcoal Max into Jamie Oliver is well a distaction for her true intention.

    • sunny says:

      07:32am | 30/12/12

      Eddie Van Halen can probably play the banjo, but no one’s going to pay money to go see that. Give the man his char beast from hell and watch the magic happen.

    • stephen says:

      09:45am | 30/12/12

      Eddie’s not bad hey, but the problem is where there’s fire there’s smoke, and the Weber has neither ; a proper barbeque has to force the cook to pick a side to stab the snags from away from the smoke - that’s after he, but mostly she, has to go get the bark and twigs and squashed newspaper and a couple of beers for the boys who are practising their golf swing, (away from the smoke of course) and are calling out for more beers - mick and dave and jeff have just arrived and are trying to weave through the smoke - and the misses will have to hurry if she doesn’t want to burn lunch.

      Webers’ make life too easy, and I can think of nothing more tiresome than to watch the little lady getting bored at the barby because she hasn’t enough to do.
      Webers is posh, unAustralian and has done untold damage to marriage - at such a shindig, men are with men and women are with women and there could be an unavoidable mix if nothing afterwards is left to clean.

    • sirronaldbradnam says:

      07:47am | 30/12/12

      Reisling and soda ...really… a man?

    • Gregg says:

      11:50am | 30/12/12

      On the rocks too if you please with a twist of lime and it makes a great drink , a little more persaz with a dash of bitters and you can make a very ordinary wine in a reisling go a long way.
      Is bradnam related to that gangnam stuff btw?

    • Nick says:

      03:46pm | 30/12/12

      Real men drink what they like

    • Terry2 says:

      08:18am | 30/12/12

      After cyclones Larry and Yasi we lost power (ten days and three days respectively). Our Weber stepped up as our principle means of survival and did us proud ; which reminds me, must get the gas bottle topped up.

    • nihonin says:

      08:34am | 30/12/12

      Good on ya Lainie, thought you knew best and got your fingered burnt.  wink

    • Angry God of Townsville says:

      08:45am | 30/12/12

      Bar-be-Que’s and Sheds, our territory. You may comment or advise but you need to stay away from the purchasing of said items. We men have only a few zones of freedom within the house and by trampling on this, un-requested is a serious issue. You may think it is regressive behaviour but the purchasing of and utilisation of both these items is actually one of the few man tasks that reflect directly on the man involved.

      Look to the Weber ads, they have a guy saying how much he loves it. That stops most of us in our tracks.We love cars, we love dogs and we love the women in our lives, but the barbie is a domain. You do not love a domain but you do dominate it. Please understand that we do not always want to be reformed metro sexuals, we will dress nicely for you and try not to scratch certain areas in public company, but we like our small dominions. Our Barbie and our shed are our areas, we like to show our abilities off and it is clear that you have transgressed by not only purchasing the ladyQ, you have insulted him by not letting him loose in the store to replace it with his selection.

      It is hard to comprehend, but understand that certain lessons are passed on from Father to Son, they are small but strong ties to our manhood and as such should be respected. The first barbie that you buy as a bloke is important, it marks a stepping stone from leaving home and having your own place in the world. Barbie’s cars and sheds are a man’s jewellery, his partner may accessorize but the big items should be his decision.

    • Gman says:

      08:49am | 30/12/12

      Acotrel please take your meds.

      I have a 6Burner beast from hell and a webber q. Webber is portable for BBQ’ s in the park or on holidays, but that’s it. Eggs, bacon, fish etc are far easier on the big beast. (By fish I mean salmon, which requires a nice crust)
      Roasts can be done in either as long as you have a hood.

    • Stained says:

      11:25am | 30/12/12

      I reckon Acotrel has a hood too…he’s a little more than off.

    • Gregg says:

      09:09am | 30/12/12

      ” Clearly I’ve hit a snag. “
      This where some very clear thinking is required in another direction that can come from dear old Donnie Lainie, but best you kind of plant the idea in Max’s head so he thinks it has all been his invention.

      It means another of those Xmas Holidays projects and all you might need to say to Max is well!, where would you have your four burner burner situated if we had a special BBQ area?
      So Max puts his mind to your extension, his deck that of course you have input into for a Boys burning ambitions corner and for the Weber wonder wall handy to all things glorious you want in an outdorr kitchen.

      If you have plenty of indoor plants and all, you might even be able to hide the two from oneanother and of course you’ll have the boys and girls congregational areas just as it can be, a nice serving island in the middle where the fridge and sink and all can be and as Max adapts he’ll probably even lose extra pounds by whizzing from burner to Weber getting stuff off both.

      It’ll again be home sweet home and possibly even more so.

    • acotrel says:

      10:55am | 30/12/12

      Her : ‘Hi Dear, I’ve bought that Weber, just as you instructed me ’ ?
      Him :  ‘I didn’t instruct you to buy that’ !
      Her :  ‘Yes, you did’  - (hands over ready prepared forged orders).

      Might work !    It would certainly fool me, if I wanted to live in peace.

    • Gregg says:

      11:55am | 30/12/12

      Please dear, just keep washing the dishes and refrain from attempting dialogues for the Christmas play scenes.

    • Tator says:

      09:23am | 30/12/12

      I must have the best of both worlds,  a big four burner BBQ with a high hood under which I can cook roasts (especially on the rotisserie) better than the oven and also cook steaks you can eat with just a fork (all in the technique) Has both a grill and a hotplate so the bacon and egg brekkies are still a goer and has a wok burner for reducing sauces or shock horror doing a fried rice to go along with the bbq.  I have actually thought about getting the Baby Q as I currently travel a lot due to work and regularly do extended 3 to 5 night trips out to remote areas where buying dinner is quite expensive, but also have to buy a larger car fridge before I do that so I have somewhere to store the meat etc as I travel.  My next real BBQ is going to be one of those fixed outdoor kitchen jobbies with more burners than a squadron of fighter jets, built in beer fridge, and has everything including a kitchen sink so I can live outside in my hammock when the good wife sends me to the dog house, hopefully not during winter though.

    • my reality is mine says:

      09:56am | 30/12/12

      Check out http://www.weberbbq.com.au/GasSummit6BurnersRange.php.  wife wanted a Q, I wanted a real BBQ.  We compromised on a summit - mine is the full stainless one they don’t make anymore.  Enough heat and flame to satisfy the inner charbeast and good looking enough for any deck or patio.  The Q might work well but it does look like something you take out of the boot of your car when you arrive at a picnic area

    • SAm says:

      10:39am | 30/12/12

      Id take one over the BBQ i bought off a neighboor without inspecting first..bloody thing didnt even have a hotplate!

    • stephen says:

      12:54pm | 30/12/12

      Acotrel ... is that you ?

      ps a hubcap makes a good bbq.

    • Nev says:

      11:08am | 30/12/12

      I don’t get these fancy modern bbq’s these days, I look at them and think may as well just use the stove in the kitchen. Even my 16yo son has a 4 burner bbq, but me I’m of the chuck a plough disc on an actual wood fire ilk, and the spuds go straight in the embers, and definetly not wrapped in tin foil.

    • Bear says:

      01:43pm | 30/12/12

      And it doesn’t into charcoal and you get the smokey flavor. Natural is still the best but more work so most don’t bother any more. I used to have a wood BBQ but alas moved house and am now on gas.

    • ramases says:

      11:43am | 30/12/12

      You have broken the cardinal unwritten and unspoken rule by invading the precinct of the alpha male. Hang your head in shame, a Weber is a glossy toy for people who want to look like they are trendy when in fact they aren’t, a Weber is marketed at women who should know better but are unable, as always, to reject that dazzling bauble that is thrust in front of them with tales of perfect Bar B Que’s when in reality there are no such things. Bar B Que’s are always fraught with danger and taking away this element of danger has lessened the whole experience and likened it to a well managed and expensive meal that one can have at any time day or night. Condolences to your hubby from all those that know.

    • Tim says:

      12:05pm | 30/12/12

      Face it,
      You bought a crap BBQ with no consultation with someone who actually knows what he’s talking about and now you’re trying to rationalise its failings as your husbands irrationality.

      The Webber Q might be fine for your poncy little marinated chicken skewers but its not up to scratch for a real Charcoal or BBQ connoisseur.

      It’s like a Hyundai Getz, sure it might just you from A to B but it won’t be enjoyable.

    • expat says:

      12:39pm | 30/12/12

      It is all about the experience. Despite how effective these webber things may be, the old fashion methods can sometimes be more enjoyable and offer better results.

      Shaving is a similar example, I cannot stand electric shavers and i’m not a big fan of those flashy 4 blade razors.. I’ve tried them all and I still find the cut throat the best.

    • vox says:

      01:44pm | 30/12/12

      Why intelligent people would argue over lining up to get a haircut is beyond me.

    • Sam says:

      03:18pm | 30/12/12

      The WeberQ is to BBQ what a Convertible is to Motoring… And that is completely unacceptable and an affront to any self respecting, meat eating, red blooded male out there.

      Their perfectly controlled heat and effeminate curves are not welcome in my backyard and nor should they in any other!

      My wife and I had a 2 hour argument in BBQ’s Galore last month about this, and for a change, I won! She realised it was an area not to be messed with.  Since when did it become unfashionable to burn steaks and lose your eyebrows to a fat flare up?? Not up in here!!!

      I admit, Girling things up a bit has it’s place. My monobrow was starting to collect native wildlife and a bit of wax here and there does help to keep the nesting willy wagtails at bay, but girls, please leave the BBQ alone! Its one of the last domains where man can really be man, safe in the sanctuary of burnt beyond all recognition bovine, swine or poultry morsels.

    • Potatoes says:

      03:43pm | 30/12/12

      I have a webber one touch charcoal barbie. To my mind, cooking sausages on a barby is waste of effort if you have cast iron cookware at your disposal. One thing you can’t do properly on a gas barby is ribs or chicken. Some people may think they can, but they’re dreaming. I like to slow roast the ribs, covered in a special salt rub, and with hickory wood on the coals to smoke the meat. The last 15 minutes I baste the meat with a home made secret recipe sweet BBQ sauce.  Personally, the only four burner I’ve used belongs to the old man and the only reason I use this is because it has a rotisserie.

    • Rose says:

      04:01pm | 30/12/12

      You bought a new BBQ without the major BBQ chef and you thought you were doing the right thing? Seriously? You also replaced a real BBQ with a kiddy toy? What planet are you on?
      My husband doesn’t get to make any decisions regarding the coffee machine or my Kenwood Chef and I stay the hell away from the BBQ, it may as well be LAW!!
      Even married people need to learn their place, or at least when things need to be joint decisions!!


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