A Primer in Outdoor Cooking: ShoppersChoice.com


My friend Alisa got a new job a  few months ago, and I have been very curious to check out what she’s doing. For one thing, she’s super excited about the place, and it’s not all that often that people really love where they work. She’s been briefing me on all of the fun things she’s been doing in her new role, and I have to say I’m a bit jealous. I finally snagged an invitation to see the place for real. I felt like I was in a fantasy land of toys for boys (or girls) that are serious about grilling.

I’ll admit I don’t know how to grill. I’ve tried it a few times, and I could never get it right. It’s finally become one of those things where I wait for invite and then enjoy the juicy, crusty meats and fish that others masterfully char over an open flame. Alisa works at ShoppersChoice.com, a high end distributor of outdoor kitchen appliances and furniture. They also have their own brand of grills and cooking appliances branded Blaze. They have a huge online offering, but they also have an unbelievable outdoor showroom in Baton Rouge on Coursey Blvd.

An outdoor air conditioner!

I expected a Home Depot sort of offering with maybe a little more glitz, but I was floored by what I saw. They have over 20 fully operational outdoor kitchens set up on the grounds. Graveled pathways with lovely tropical landscaping led us from one kitchen to another – each with its own style and cooking system. I personally don’t know much about grills since I don’t know anything about grilling, but they looked beautiful. Louisiana is a place where people love their outdoor kitchens, so I was imagining how much the locals would love walking around this place and imagining themselves entertaining in these gorgeous kitchens. They even had outdoor air conditioners!! That’s a product I couldn’t turn down. If they make them portable, I’m sold.

The kitchens were beautiful, but we stumbled upon the real gem at the back of the showroom. Chef Tony was cooking cinnamon rolls on a grill with applewood chips. We asked him if we could come back by and try a sample when he was done, and he graciously said yes. Tony has been working for ShoppersChoice.com for awhile, but he’s not just a demonstration chef. He’s very entertaining and has an infectious personality. But the real advantage to the company – and to customers – is that he knows grilling, and he knows the products in his showroom. You see, his role is to help customers understand which grill is the best one for their cooking needs. He doesn’t sell, so he doesn’t care about that. He cooks, and he’s cooked on all of these grills. He asks customers about themselves and what they like to cook or what they aspire to cook. Then he gives them three options that will meet their requirements in varying price ranges with a variety of features. The salespeople can take it from there.

Cinnamon Rolls on a grill!

Tony says that’s the advantage of doing business with them. There is no showroom on this side of the Mississippi with the type of display they have. And he said he tries out every grill they have on display before they decide to sell it. He’s been know to cut them in half to see if they are well-made inside. He’s not just a chef. He’s a grill expert. Customers as far away as Kansas have traveled to see their showroom. And, if he happens to overhear what you want to do while in a kitchen, he has been known to fire up the grill and show you how to do it. Or, better yet, help you try it out yourself. His aim is to make sure that you are happy with the grill that you choose from a cook’s perspective.

Me and Alisa

The cinnamon rolls are one of the many unusual dishes he’s tried on the grills. With this cooking equipment, you should be able to cook almost anything you want if you get the right equipment. BBQguys.com is Chef Tony’s YouTube teaching channel, and you can follow him to get more information on recipes, how-tos and grill shopping. I browsed a few of the recipes and found this Shrimp Fried Rice that looks amazing.

The cinnamon rolls were delicious, and the day was perfect for strolling around and pretending I had an outdoor kitchen. I thought I would share this info with you just in case you might be in the market or you are just looking for some inspiration. You might just catch Tony in action and get a bite of some of his delicious experimentation.

You can also follow Tony on Instagram @bbqguys and on Facebook at BBQGuys.com. ShoppersChoice.com also has a YouTube Channel with recipes and tips. Try them both … even if you are not in the market for a grill. Please invite me over to try your culinary experiments, and stop by ShoppersChoice.com to say hi. Tell them Sharon at Midlife Moments Blog sent you! It’s a local business, Baton Rouge…. show them some love.

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