Pictures: Michael Strohecker

Iam British and cannot claim any expertise at grilling on a barbecue; the UK summer weather frequently disappoints and creates a cool miserable wet party. In Finland this summer the sun shone for days on end with fantastic regularity and sales of barbecue grills soared.

As soon as the temperatures warm in the spring, Finns clean up their gas barbecues and use the terrace as an extension to the kitchen. The tempting barbeque aromas while walking along the street is the smell of summer in our city neighborhood.

However, have you ever tried catering for over ten people on a home barbecue? Something gets undercooked, other meats become burnt offerings and in the rush, there’s not so much time to entertain your guests.

Pork ribs cooking slowly on American charcoals.

Speaking with the grilling guru, Michael Strohecker, a successful and tasty barbecue is possible for up to 200 people. Michael Strohecker is an American and has lived in Finland for many years. Michael is originally from Pennsylvania where the summers are long and hot, ideal for developing barbeque expertise.

Michael is originally from Pennsylvania where the summers are long and hot, ideal for developing barbecue expertise.

His grilling passion and hobby became a business called FinnBBQ, and his motto is anytime and anywhere, from Lappeenranta to Oulu or Kuopio to Helsinki. Apparently, the secret to an excellent barbecue is selecting the best grill and fuel for the type of food to be cooked. Add in the knowledge to cope with quantities and timing, then you may be onto a winner.

For example, the best beef brisket needs grilling for 12 hours, so a charcoal that burns slowly and with a constant heat is required. FinnBBQ imports Royal Oak Charcoal from America to do this and it adds a distinct smoky flavor. Finnish charcoal burns faster and hotter which is good for certain foods and gas grills can do the same, but most folks are missing the opportunity to tenderize and flavor their meat fully.

Iron steaks. Sirloins and tenderloins. À la FinnBBQ.

Obviously, the best meat gives the best flavor but Michael’s treatment of economy cuts has also given excellent results. Michael has grilled many different foods, including meat, fruit, vegetables and even a cake. Karjalan piirakka (Karelian pasty) grills well and the charcoal adds a subtle flavor to the pastry. Pulled beef, steaks, roe deer and the non-native whitetail deer are popular. Moose is a specialty although FinnBBQ will grill any meat to suit the budget or the customer can supply their own. Vegetarians are easily catered for with grilled fruit, and vegetables and veggie burgers have come a long way in the last few years.

Karjalan piirakka grills well and the charcoal adds a subtle flavor to the pastry.

Smoke and chicken wings.

Catering for a couple of hundred people requires a different kit to the usual home grill. FinnBBQ uses Amish built Meadow Creek grills from America and Finnish Weber grills, one can cope with 2,000 burgers at a time. Michael said that the quality shows because they haven’t burnt out after the first couple of seasons. He uses separate grills for fish to avoid flavors transferring to the meat and vegetables. FinnBBQ can smoke meats and also have a grill suitable for roasting a whole pig, which is great for a party of 100 people.

Michael Strohecker has worked a Christmas barbeque in the depths of the Finnish winter. Smoked roasts at minus 25 need careful preparation but the food still tastes excellent. Whether you have a wedding, family reunion, birthday, sauna, or Christmas party, FinnBBQ will provide an excellent service in English or Finnish, anywhere, anytime.

Michael is a friendly American and is quite happy to chat, give advice and share his passion while he’s grilling great food.

Thinking about arranging a barbecue party? Michael Strohecker can be reached at phone number 041 444 1966 or through his Facebook page: