I cooked for near on 20 years exclusively on gas. For a large part of that, it was on one of the old decent, well made BBQs from the 80s - given to me by a mate when we bought our first house. When when I outgrew that, I inherited a larger one from the inlaws - again, a well made 80s one, that just needed new burners.
I only used the plate for onions, mushrooms, and haloumi cheese. Everything else went on the grille with the rocks under it.
They were well seasoned, and gave off plenty of flavour as they allowed controlled burning of the drippings.
At any family gathering, I was always put in charge of the BBQ, by popular vote. I guess that meant I could cook pretty well on it.
My grandmother, who I was very close to growing up, was always saying things like "it's never as good as charcoal" or "you can't get the charcoal flavour any other way." She passed over a decade ago, and about 6 years ago when reminiscing on her birthday, I finally gave into the niggling thoughts and decided to give this old charcoal idea a go... At first, it was a disappointment with a Weber GA. I had no idea how to light charcoal. As a youngster all I ever witnessed was a pile of kindling being burnt down to coals, then charcoal being placed on the hot coals. I couldn't even get the kindling going well enough to do that - it was just a smouldering mess in the GA. It even crossed my mind to drill holes in the bottom of the GA.... so I shelved it, and forgot about it for a while. Then I got an old red kettle (with rusty blades) and gave it another shot. A bit of help from Google, and some US websites, and I discovered a charcoal chimney. I made my own from a baby formula can, and the Weber-itis grew from there.....
Now, I love the kettle(s) <-- yes, that's multiple. No way can you do a chicken as good on gas, compared to a roti on the kettle. I also run my Aldi (Hark style) smoker on charcoal. The old 4 burner gas BBQ hasn't been used for nearly 5 years now - only the wok burner gets a workout, lighting the chimney.
I also have a gas converted kettle (great for fire ban days - can do a pretty good roti chook or rolled pork leg - but not as good as charcoal).
The Weber Q is also brilliant for a quick & easy weeknight cook. Sure, it's not perfect, but with the right seasoning, a steak still turns out great - and that's where half the debate could lie - a well seasoned steak on a gas grill tastes pretty damn good. Charcoal on the other hand, is very forgiving - the flavour of the drippings vapourising on the charcoal can make a poorly seasoned steak taste great.
Gas still has it's place, and when an old 4-burner is all that's on offer at whatever friend/rello's place we're at, I can still cook up a pretty tasty meal after being "volunteered" to man the BBQ. Sure, it's not quite as good as true charcoal, but it's certainly a level above what most accept as "bbq" - and it's a helluva lot better than a sizzle plate.
And that's where I think gas has the bad rep - from countless "sausage sizzle" style *bbqs* that are simply a steel plate with gas burners underneath.
No exposure to direct flame, no way to impart any "vapourised" flavour, and doubtful contents in the cheap bangers....
Weber Kettle Fanatic....
Main go-to: Blue 57cm OTG
Fire restriction option: Black 57cm M/T butchered with a Weber gas conversion.
GMG DC for the lazy smoky cooks.
Weeknight special: Q200
Problem? What problem?