Weber - A food love story
In 1951, barbecues were still woefully under-engineered. No one was more aware of their shortcomings than George Stephen, a welder who worked at Weber Brothers Metal Works outside Chicago. Here, large metal spheres were welded together to make buoys for the Coast Guards. It was in these very spheres that his idea took shape.
As the father of a growing family, George was used to personal sacrifice, but surely, a decent grilled steak would be nice once in a while! He had struggled with his flat, open brazier with frustrating results. If you didn’t end up getting rained out, the slightest wind could blow ashes onto your hard-fought prize.
Well, if necessity is the mother of invention, then hunger must be its godparent. Frustrated with battling the weather and flare-ups that resulted in improperly cooked food (blackened, charred food on the outside and raw on the inside), Stephen put his entrepreneurial design talents to good use and invented a way to control the cooking process while keeping the food protected from the elements.
By cutting a metal sphere in half, using one half for a bowl on legs, and the other half as a lid, he gave birth to the original kettle barbecue. The year was 1952. Even though cooking versatility wasn’t his primary goal, George's new invention offered the option of slow cooking or fast grilling.
The neighbours called it ‘Sputnik ‘and had a good laugh – and a taste of delicious grilled steak. Suddenly George’s ‘folly' was in such hot demand he couldn’t make them fast enough. So he branched out on his own and went into full-time production. Weber’s popular kettle shape quickly changed American gardens and became an icon for food and fun.
In 1985, Weber began producing the highly rated Genesis® gas grill. Suddenly consumers could enjoy the convenience of gas grilling without sacrificing quality or flavour. Today, Weber-Stephen Products is America’s premium manufacturer of both gas and charcoal grills. Located just outside Chicago, the family-owned company is operated and managed by all twelve children of Marge and George Stephen. Weber now offers a wide range of modern and stylish barbecues -giving outdoor chefs the flexibility to grill, roast, smoke and bake at any time of the year.
George passed away in 1993 and in 1998, as a tribute to their father, his children located his first hand-built barbecue pit and moved it brick by brick to the Weber headquarters. It now stands outside the front office in Palatine, Illinois as testimony to an idea that changed the world of grilling forever and as a tribute to George’s love for food.
Free time is now a very precious commodity and every conceivable modern-day distraction is available. Strange, therefore, that more and more families and friends are returning, time and again to that simple pleasure that George was so passionate about. It’s more than cooking. It’s more than eating. It’s connecting with friends, with family. It’s the embodiment of all these things that can be found only in a Weber.
In reality, all George ever did was provide the equipment and fan the flames. The true passion of grilling is in anyone who enjoys a good meal, great times with family and friends, and has an aversion to wasting those precious moments scrubbings pots and pans. If you love the texture and flavour of grilled food, if the smell of the smoke makes you a little crazy with desire, then a Weber barbecue is all you need.
Thank you, George.