By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: A study of 1,000 Australians has revealed 85 per cent prefer it to cooking indoors, but while 80 per cent of female respondents prefer outdoor cooking, only 11 per cent operate the barbecue.

The study, commissioned by BeefEater and conducted by internet research company Pure Profile, surveyed 1,000 Australians on what, when, why, and how often they eat outdoors.

According to the survey, the barbecue remained an essential part of Australian cuisine for most respondents, with 97 per cent reporting they own a barbecue grill. 53 per cent said they owned a natural gas barbecue and 40 per cent an LPG barbecue.

The results stated 85 per cent of Australians prefer cooking outdoors on a barbecue compared to a kitchen indoors and 86 per cent cited ‘taste of the food’ as a major reason behind that enjoyment. Nearly 70 per cent cited spending time outdoors as the majore reason, while 61 per cent said bringing friends together. Ease of preparation and ease of cleaning both scored were listed by 59 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.

Barbecuing seemed to be increasingly popular amongst Australian women, with 80 per cent of female respondents saying they prefered cooking outdoors to indoors, even though 71 per cent still believed grilling outdoors was a more masculine way of cooking than in the kitchen. Also, 33 per cent of female respondents said they liked being in charge of the barbecue, but only 11 per cent said they operated the barbecue in their household. A huge 97 per cent of men said they handled the cooking outdoors.

Despite an eagerness to spend more time in charge of the grill, 62 per cent of females said they had received resistance from a male or had been ushered away when trying to operate the barbecue. Also, 42 per cent of women said their partner underestimated their barbecue knowledge and skill.

This coming summer, 68 per cent of respondents plan to fire up their barbecue one to three times a week and 19 per cent said they will cook outdoors four to six times per week. The respondents indicated the barbecue is synonymous with summer for Australians, with 50 per cent naming the aroma of barbecue as their favourite summer smell.

Australia Day was cited as the most popular day for hosting a barbecue, with 86 per cent saying they intended to celebrate the nation’s birthday by cooking outdoors. Other popular holidays included Boxing Day (68 per cent), Christmas (56 per cent), Father’s Day (52 per cent) and Easter (48 per cent).

Australians said they were also willing to barbecue rain or shine, with 65 per cent of respondents saying they have barbecued in extreme weather conditions, from freezing temperatures to thunderstorms.

The survey indicated the barbecues is a status symbol, with 33 per cent of male respondents saying that being able to show off their cooking skills is the most enjoyable aspect of entertaining outdoors and 35 per cent said they invite others around to show off their barbecue grill. Interestingly, 46 per cent of respondents said they have had ‘grill envy’ and been jealous of a neighbour’s or friend’s barbecue and 15 per cent said that impressing their friends or neighbour’s factored into their decision when buying a barbecue.

The outdoor living trend looks set to continue in Australia, with 66 per cent saying they believed their barbecue and outdoor living space said something about their personality, while 68 per cent said they were considering upgrading their barbeque within the next year.

Over half of all respondents, 53 per cent, said they relied on their instincts when it came to cooking a barbecue. However, 26 per cent said they learned the craft from dad and eight per cent from watching their mates.

When asked to rate their barbecuing skills on a scale of 1 to 5, 38 per cent gave themselves a ‘4 – Very Good’ rating and 41 per cent said ‘3 – Decent’. Meanwhile, 11 per cent of males proclaimed themselves to be barbecue experts and 54 per cent of respondents believed men are instinctively better at barbecuing than women.

However, men and women had very different views when it came to who does most of the work when entertaining guests at home. More than half (58 per cent) of women claimed to do more work at a barbecue than their partner. Only 14 per cent of men said they work harder, but 64 per cent said they shared the workload evenly.

The results revealed the only task clearly handled by the man was cooking the meat, while the respondents indicated that 81 per cent of women invited the guests, 79 per cent did the shopping, 71 per cent hosted the guests, 93 per cent prepared salads and sides and 65 per cent did the cleaning up.

Despite the apparent disparity in workload, 44 per cent of female participants said their partner usually received all the recognition.