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The ‘Hots Shots’ behind All Fuels talk success with Neos Kosmos

Michael Byrne and Billy Costa explain why their premium product is the most popular of its kind in Australia and remains one of the best BBQ briquette brands worldwide

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‘Hot Shots’ Billy Costa and Michael Byrne.
PHOTO: VLAD SAVIN PHOTOGRAPHY

12 April 2017

Australia is rightfully the barby-kingdom of the world and one of the first things I came to know from the pit-masters in my family is that the secret to a good barbecue is in the fuel.

Apart from faithfully executing the marinating and meat preparation rituals, success lies with the fire.

Establishing a tame, even, and calm source that burns smokeless, odourless and for as long as possible is the goal, and Australians seem to have mastered those qualities early on.

“We have the original raw material; the formula for the original barbecue briquette is retained by All Fuels and Hot Shots.”

“It’s behind any traditional briquette that’s ever been made in the country,” Michael Byrne and Billy Costa tell Neos Kosmos.

For the best slow cooked meat that keeps its moisture and gives your mouth explosions of flavour, grill temperatures should remain between 200 and 250 degrees Celcius at the grate.

“Many imported products have come and gone and it’s the Hot Shots briquettes’ long-burning characteristics that imported products can’t match,” Michael continues.

“No smoke, no chemical odours. Quality and consistency are the hallmarks of our brand.”

Michael Byrne, All Fuels’ principal stakeholder, has been in the industry for decades, with much experience in acquiring product and distributing it, and some areas of his business touching on manufacturing.

It was a little bit over 10 years ago that he crossed paths with his then next-door neighbour and now business partner, Greek Cypriot Billy Costa.

“I was in manufacturing,” Billy explains. “I was the biggest producer in the day, making charcoal and distributing a bit, more so throughout Australia; Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, and so on.”

Michael and Billy make a dynamic team and have grown their business to be suppliers to Bunnings stores, Stirling Woodyard, and Coles amongst other outlets including a large number of smaller retailers selling a wide range of cooking and heating fuels produced and distributed under the All Fuels Pty Ltd umbrella. They also export to many countries around the world.

Fully Australian-owned and supplied, All Fuels is adamant about the main ingredient in the process being brown coal which is approximately 95 per cent pure carbon. It is this formula that has dominated the Australian market since briquettes were first used in cafes in the 1960s.

“Our success is based on hard work, loyalty and determination to supplying high quality product into the market. A strong, long-standing friendship has also helped,” Michael says.

“We met and we decided it was a very good fit to have a manufacturer in the barbecue field join us; we were distributing firewood. The idea of starting this operation together seemed like a sensible thing; the perfect synergy.”

Since the two joined forces, All Fuels kept expanding, establishing a wide and improved distribution operation Australia-wide and overseas, rapidly growing the entire range of the Hot Shot branch.

“We’ve kept going and growing and we haven’t looked backed ever since,” Billy says.

“Meanwhile we’re savouring the original formula of the first traditional barbeque briquette made in Australia by Industrial Carbon.”

“It’s pure and the best. Its burning time of a minimum three hours makes it ideal for cooking with kettle barbecues and spit roasts so no fuel replacement is required while cooking,” he explains.

A fuel that can burn for hours at a low, steady temperature but also comes from the right type of wood to impart that signature smoky flavour, is essential according to Billy who swears by their charcoal briquettes.

“Greeks and Cypriots love their barbecue,” he enthuses. “This way of cooking is deeply ingrained to our cultural identity. We love our meat and we know how to make it taste delicious.”

“I believe both our know-how combined, has helped us create the go-to product for the job; it comes as no surprise that Greece and Cyprus have been two of our best Hot Shot customers. Cyprus remains a strong client today and Greece follows.”

Michael is quick to agree, insisting that developing a wide range of products and fuels has helped them perfect their briquettes and become market leaders.
Another popular BBQ product by All Fuesls is the Weber kettle, traditionally known for indirect cooking, which means that the food is not placed over the coals but between the lit coals. This method requires the lid to be on the BBQ with all vents open and is used for roasting, including cooking a ham. Heat is controlled by the number of briquettes placed in the BBQ.

“We rate the heat level in three categories and we sell fuel in different sized bags.

“While charcoal provides the low heat required for slow-cooking meat, if you add good quality wood in chunks or little pieces to a bed of coals, you can get the best aromas and smoky flavour,” Michael muses.

“We have created this range of products that complement each other and have been putting it to the hardest tests. Fail proof!”

Given that different varieties bring distinct flavours to meat - something applied often in Greek cuisine - the company takes pride in their low-resin woods and the light, aromatic smoke they can produce for the entire burning time. Hot Shots kindling is an excellent-rated dried product for starting your fire, the Hot Shots Charcoal for an open grill, the lump charcoal is also a top-seller; whilst their Hot Shots firelighters provide clean burning fire starting.

“We make BBQ a breeze; that’s why Aussies love it. We test everything first and then recommend it,” Billy stresses.

“We are very proud to have Greeks and Greek restaurants top the list of our clientele. Greeks barbeque a lot, especially for Easter. A big thank you for the community for placing us at the top of the market!”

*To find out more about the Hot Shots product range head to www.hotshotsfuel.com.au

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