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Home > Features > Living Well > Food > Green Cuisine > The Beach Grill

GreenSense- Green Cuisine

The Beach Grill

The Beach Grill

Our fair city, Burlington, VT is blessed with a (nearly) great lake and some beautiful beaches, right in the city. Unfortunately, being in city limits means the beaches, with their abundant supply of driftwood, are subject to the City ordinance banning open fires- even small cooking fires.

Since we regularly eat supper at the beach during the short Vermont Summer, this was problematic. Interestingly, the same city ordinance that prohibits even small open fires on the sandy beach allows "enclosed" fires anywhere. The solution? A lightweight, easy to carry grill that will cook a meal on a few handfuls of driftwood- no fossil fuel or charcoal required.


  • 1 yard of 16 in. aluminum flashing
  • 1 12 in. square grate, the lightest weight you can find (I used one from an old hibachi.)

Using a straightedge and the back (not the sharp edge) of a knife, score a line lengthwise down the middle of the flashing. Fold the flashing in half, along the score, so you have a double-thick piece a yard long and 8 inches wide. This is the grill. Roll it up loosely, put it in a bag, or backpack, put some food in another bag and set it inside the rolled up grill. Then, put the grate in another bag, pack up the rest of your food, and head for the beach.

When you get there, scoop out a flat-bottomed, 2-3 inch deep hole in the sand. Set the rolled-up grill in the hole on end and let it expand. Now, grab hold of one end and pull it so it forms a loose spiral, instead of a circle when looked at from above- like the @ sign, but without the innermost curl. Check to see that the grate will fit over the inner part of the spiral, then push it into the sand. Add a little more sand inside and outside to stabilize the grill.

The grate should be about 5 inches above the sand. The outer tail (the bottom of the @ sign) of the spiral provides a draft, to allow air to enter and fan the fire. If there's a breeze, make sure this opening faces the breeze.

Use small twigs (1 1/2 in. thick or less) for fuel. Build a small fire and start cooking almost immediately. As you cook, feed the fire just enough wood to keep it going. You'll be amazed how little wood it takes to cook a meal.

When you've finished cooking, let the fire burn down, remove the grill, and dowse the ashes thoroughly.

Put the cooled off grate back in its bag and rool up the grill. As you pack up, you'll notice that the inside of the grill is black with soot. The outside should be clean. You can still pack things inside the rolled-up grill, as long as you put them in a bag to protect them. If it's a sturdy bag, you can just leave it inside the rolled-up grill and re-use it again and again.

-Alan Wagener





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