The Fusion is an option to consider if this is your first venture into charcoal cooking. The electric ignition should make things simple for those who are new to cooking with charcoal, but more realistic preheat times and guidance on how much charcoal to use for different cooking tasks would go a long way to making this product the whole package. Although this barbecue looks portable, you'll need a power source nearby, which limits where you can take it. It can also be awkward for one person to carry. It's not suitable for balconies due to the amount of smoke it can produce and you won't be able to use it during total fire bans.
Everdure has teamed up with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to release a range of charcoal and gas barbecues. The Hub and Fusion models from the range are quite innovative in that they're charcoal barbecues that use an electric element for ignition.
We've tested a number of barbecues from the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal range, and you can see the results in our barbecues review. But here we fire up the Fusion HBCE1B to give you a hands-on review so you can decide if this is the model for you.
The Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Fusion HBCE1B Charcoal Electric Ignition BBQ features a:
- built-in rotisserie with three height positions
- retractable power cord
- porcelain enamel firebox and charcoal tray
- pedestal stand.
When we tested the Fusion, the pedestal stand was available as an optional accessory to make it a more permanent fixture in your backyard or alfresco area. Now the pedestal stand comes with the barbecue.
Power buttons on the Fusion HBCE1B.
Follow these instructions to light up the barbecue:
- Place the charcoal over the element and press the ignition button. We used Everdure by Heston Blumenthal Natural Lump Charcoal (10kg bag for $30).
- The ignition timer is set for seven minutes – long enough to light the charcoal.
The instructions suggest you can start cooking after 10 minutes, but we found the charcoal needs at least an extra 30 minutes after the element has turned off to completely ignite before distributing the charcoal across the charcoal tray and cooking.
A maximum of 1.2kg of charcoal can be used at one time, but we found this much can overflow and take longer to ignite.
We thought the instructions could have added more detail on how much charcoal you need for cooking different foods, as well as guidance on how to ignite the charcoal (for example, do you leave the charcoal piled until it's turned completely white, which means it's fully ignited?).
Inside the Fusion HBCE1B.
We put the Fusion through the same performance testing as we do gas barbecues and were impressed. It was excellent for grilling sausages, steak and marinated chicken wings, and scored very well for barbecuing a whole chicken.
There were some things we learned while using this barbecue that could help a new owner get a better result.
Distribute the charcoal evenly
Uneven charcoal can affect the evenness of cooking, a lesson we learned the hard way grilling sausages when we found small areas were unevenly grilled.
Moving the charcoal during cooking can be tricky – while the grill rack can conveniently bend in half, you'll need to move the food to one side (more difficult if you have a full rack cooking) and carefully lift the grill plate which gets dangerously hot.
Preheat the charcoal for the right amount of time
Allowing the charcoal to preheat for the right amount of time is vital to getting great results.
We barbecued two 1.4kg chickens using the rotisserie (which can accommodate a maximum of 15kg) and found we needed to preheat for 30 minutes to get 1kg of charcoal fully ignited.
After 30 minutes of cooking, we found the temperature dropped – requiring an extra 500g of charcoal and another press of the ignition button to get the temperature back up. The end product was very juicy chickens with evenly browned, slightly crispy skin with a nice smoky flavour.
The Fusion allows good access to food when cooking, but it can produce a lot of smoke, especially when cooking fatty meats.
And although the rotisserie is easy to assemble with large forks that hold meat firmly in place, we found the three retractable positions on the rotisserie didn't operate smoothly.
The Fusion only has a chargrill plate and no side panels to protect food and flames from draughts (although the cover plate can be used as a windbreak for the back of the barbecue). The two button controls illuminate and are labelled with symbols, one for the rotisserie and the other for the ignition.
The Fusion is fairly easy to clean – the exterior is easy to wipe over and the foldable chargrill plate is easy to fit into a domestic sink.
There's a small, easy-to-remove tray under the coils that traps ashes, and the coil element will need wiping over with a dry cloth after use as it can become covered in ash and grease. The enamel surfaces on this barbecue also help when it comes to cleaning.
We've tested the following Everdure by Heston Blumenthal models in our barbecues review:
- Cube – portable, charcoal barbecue
- Force – compact two-burner gas barbecue
- Furnace – three-burner gas barbecue
- Hub – large charcoal barbecue.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.