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May 29, 2007 07:08 AM

"Grand Cafe" smoker Costco

Does anyone have any experience with this. I like smoking, but am tired of sitting and tending charcoal. Want a gas one. This seems to be a nice design and the construction appears sturdy. I tend to keep things for a long time. Thoughts?

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  1. well, since no one had any thoughts (and the reviews of this unit, in general, are scarce) i decided to be the guinea pig.

    bought one on friday, assembled it on saturday, and smoked five full racks of ribs today. took approximately seven hours, but the meat was falling off the bones after hour four. still have some tweaking to do, but a very successful first try. will post again later after i have checked a few things out and have used it again.

    would love to hear from others.

    2 Replies
    1. re: justanotherpenguin

      Just got a scratch and dent one from Costco for a decent price. Actually just a dinged up box. Price had dropped to $347. Looking forward to firing it up. Glad to hear your results were good. Did it produce some good smoke?

      1. re: Wildcat64

        I just put mine together. Well, my wife did; she's an engineer and I'm the cook! It looks pretty good, and I'm going to smoke a turkey and brisket this week. I'd be interested in any feedback on this smoker or your experiences, hints and tips. Thanks.

    2. i am thrilled to not be the lone guinea pig anymore. hope that both of you continue posting on this topic.

      since it sounds like this weekend might be the first time effort for both of you, i'd like to share a couple of observations. 1st - the thermometer goes to 600 degrees! very misleading. if you read the manual (yes, finally broke down and did that), you will find that the actual expected cooking range is 220-250 (low to high). so do not expect it to heat up very quickly. my first attempt took about two hours to get to 220, so i did things differently the 2nd time:
      1. filled up the drip pan with HOT water;
      2. used tin foil to cover the vent on the back; and
      3. (this is probably overkill) stuck one of those electric charcoal starters inside while
      the heat came up to speed.
      with these additions, the temp reached 220 in about 20-25 minutes. both times used the "high" setting.
      (on the topic of the rear vent - i would love it if someone would share their knowledge of how it works. mine does not close completely [maybe i assembled it wrong?], it simply slides in and out. any thoughts?)

      so i cooked two full racks of baby backs. substantial heavy rub the night before, then cooked for 3 hours at 220-230, then placed (sealed individually) into tinfoil with some apple juice and honey for another 2 1/2 hours. the plan at this point, was to remove them, cut them into 2-3 riblet pieces, and finish them on a grill with a honey/ginger/teriyaki glaze. this did not work because they started to fall apart as i started cutting them up (with a very, very sharp boning knife yet!). however, as they started to fall off the bones, our little group of 6 decided to "sample" the pieces and it was quickly determined that there was absolutely no reason to continue the cooking process. so they were promptly consumed, with the glaze on the side. so it was a success, but not as planned.

      to answer your question about smoke: yes, produced a nice amount and created a very nice ring in the meat. i used apple wood both times. once i soaked it for an hour, the other time overnight - overnight is better. the 2nd time, i also took a head of garlic, broke it into cloves (unpeeled) and put it on the wood. you could smell it at least 100 feet away! very nice!

      so good luck with your efforts. please do post results and insights.

      1. Howdy, I have not had as good luck with mine, it takes the unit 30-40 mins to get smoking and then it only smokes for 30 model #csm07alp even has a after market smoker tray.....It never did smoke with the stk tray. What am I doing wrong?

        1. Can you use this thing as a smoker for making sausage?

          2 Replies
          1. re: yayadave

            yayadave, I do not think the model I have would be good for sausage or any heavy smoking. The absence of any functioning baffle system doesn't allow it, and the low level of smoke and duration is not vey good. I am taking mine back to Costco today, even with the retro fit smoker tray it is below my expectations. My BBQ doea a good job of adding some smoky flavor so it will have to do for the 4th.........

            1. re: Uncle Rog

              Thanks. I figured it might be two different types of smoker and you confirmed it.

          2. i have now used the smoker three times. two sets of ribs and a pork shoulder. i too am having a problem getting any significant smoke from the unit. i have sent the following email to "customer service @ grand cafe"; i'll let you know if and when i get a response.

            "i purchased the above smoker at costco on june 15th. have used it three times so far. i am pleased with the construction and ease of use of the unit, but i have a couple of issues that i would like you to address:

            1. in my opinion, a "smoker" should produce a significant amount of smoke. i have followed your instructions, have read the disclaimer about inducing flavor rather than producing smoke, and am not satisfied. perhaps i am doing something wrong. i would appreciate some input, or maybe a direction of where (like a website, etc.) i can go to get more smoke. i am planning on smoking some homemade sausage, and i know that actual smoke will be an important part of the equation;

            2. why does the thermometer go to 600, when the smoker will not go over 250? is there any kind of aftermarket device that will allow the smoker to maintain a specific temperature (like a thermostat with a sensor)?

            3. exactly how is the rear vent supposed to function? unless i assembled mine incorrectly, it does not close completely, is always open, and only the length of the extension changes if you move it in and out. i learned after my first attempt that i need to cover the vent with tinfoil (since i can't close it) in order for the unit to heat up to desired temperature in a reasonable period of time. any input would be appreciated.

            all three of these items are a concern, but the first is a potential deal breaker (thank God for costco's customer satisfaction policy!). so i would appreciate some help and maybe i will not have to return it."

            13 Replies
            1. re: justanotherpenguin

              penguin, I returned the unit today, full refund. As I stated, even with the new part, the smoke tray is too far from the flame so it only smokes for about 30 minutes. The thermometer is generic, no smoker should go to 600, at least not mine as I smoke at 200 most of the time, sometimes 220. The baffle is useless, very little smoke and no way to retain it. You can try to contact Elysa at Grand Hall,, she has been very helpful, but the unit is not designed properly, too bad I loved it!!
              Just an aside, the unit should not create a huge amount of smoke, just a slow continuous flow to keep the meat enveloped during the long term duration of the "smoke". If too much smoke is created the taste is ruined.......

              1. re: Uncle Rog

                i did not hear back from grand hall today. if i don't hear in the next couple days, i will call elysa - thank you for that info.

                in the meantime, prior to buying this one i had done some online research and came up with a "cabelas" smoker. does anybody know anything about it? link follows:


                1. re: justanotherpenguin

                  I have seen the Weston model on several web sites, they range in price from $400 at to $98 at Wal Mart for the same unit !! I am talking with some other people because I really want a smoker that works. The Masterbuilt in Cabelas is another option. The electric units will also "cold" smoke which is a valid option, I will get back to you on this.....

                  1. re: justanotherpenguin

                    Depending on how serious you folks are, you might want to go straight to Sausage Maker.

                    1. re: yayadave

                      Here is a link to the Walmart version of the Weston unit, $245 at Cabelas / Sausage Maker, $98 at wally world .......

                      1. re: Uncle Rog

                        Looks to me like you're right. But I think the "Walmart version" is a dummied down knock-off. Like not stainless steel. But then, at $150 less, it might be just fine. It's not like you use it every day and leave it out in the rain in between times.

                        1. re: yayadave

                          yayadave, you are right, it is a "$100" smoker, however it does smoke in about 10 minutes and puts out a good amount that lasts for a little over an hour per load. It IS NOT anywhere near the quality of materials as the stainless steel units, the door and sides are not insulated, but it does smoke and will be a temporary fix until I find another "worl class" unit.......

                          1. re: Uncle Rog

                            Well, if it works, it works. If it is not problematic, you could run it 'till the wheels falloff.

                            1. re: yayadave

                              That particular design is universal, it would appear, to most of the vertical models. The Vermont Casting site has a PDF showing assembly and operating instructions, an exact mirror image of the Smokies! The differences are size, stainless construction, double walls, drip diverters, drip pan, two additional dampers and perhaps the size of the chip pan and of course $650 bucks less. I will use this for a little while until I find "the hot ticket"......

                        2. re: Uncle Rog

                          OK, I made a decision. I bought the Masterbuilt from Cabelas for the house and the gas combo for the RV. The electric unit comes set up for sausage and has the versatility of heat 100-275 degrees. I have a buddy that has the Cook Shack FEC100, $3,300.00! , and puts out some great smoked food, meat, cheese,vegetables just about anything. The gas unit is pretty versatile, it smokes, grills and can use propane or charcoal and it comes with a stand alone burner unit, very handy when camping. All in all I think I made a good decision and will report my results after testing.....

                          1. re: Uncle Rog

                            My wife just informed me that she bought the Wallyworld version this morning, I cancelled the Masterbuilt, the combo unit is still coming. Dave I think you are probably right......I will assemble and test smoke it tonight and report tomorrow or Saturday......

                            1. re: Uncle Rog

                              I made modifications to my smoker. I took your friends idea for the rear vent and applied it. I completly removed the smoke tray and holder and took the stainless steel packaging that came with the machine cut it inot length and placed one on each side of the burner to set the chip pan onto. It smokes like a champ. I have not made the modifications to the side vents yet but I will.

                        3. re: justanotherpenguin

                          grand hall never replied to my email, nor did i get a return phone call from elysa. so today i returned the unit, got my original $349 back.