So you’ve got the cooking bug and are ready to invest in a new barbecue. Just wander around any barbecue store and you’ll quickly find that your options are legion. Should it be a coal or gas burning barbecue? Is a cast iron cooktop better or worse than stainless steel? What’s the difference between a flame tamer and ceramic rocks? If you have no idea what this is all about, Nathan Taylor investigates the coalface of the barbecue cookspace.

We’ll start off with the one bit of advice that’s worth more than any other when it comes to buying a barbecue: you should have a realistic understanding of your own needs, personality and patience. That enormous six burner multi-tiered and hooded barbecue may look great in the store, but if you later find that you never use it because you think it’s too much effort to clean, you’ve wasted your money. Likewise, if you buy a coal burning barbecue because you heard that’s what the “professionals” use, but later find that you don’t use it because heat and charcoal management is too laborious, then, again you’ve wasted your money.

Without getting too Zen, knowing yourself is the key to getting to right barbecue.