People seem to love their Cadacs – from an almost perfect record on Amazon reviews to hearty recommendations on the VW California campervan forum. So, we wanted to see for ourselves. Would we love them too?
What are some of the most-read articles on Campfire Magazine? The reviews of the Cobb and Lotus Grill. This tells us that people take their outdoor cooking and barbecuing very seriously. Finding the right kit makes everything easier, which means you’re more likely to use it.
There’s an added incentive in trying the Cadac…and that’s the fact that we’ve failed to find a decent camping gas stove. So, one machine that’s both a less-messy barbecue and able to boil a kettle has to be right up our street.
We thought the Cadac Safari Chef looked the best size for portability and cooking options. It’s foldable, comes with some accessories and has the option of extras such as a baking stone, wok and more. As a rough guide – the Safari Chef is around £90. Alternatives include the taller Carri Chef, the tabletop Grillo Chef and the more basic Camp Chef. Note that new models of the Safari Chef have plastic (but still foldable) legs and an ignition.
It was simple to unpackage and was standing on its little legs within seconds. Within minutes, we’d attached the handy brass hose thingy (which allows you to leave the connector fastened to your gas hose so that you can quickly screw it onto the Cadac – so much better than having to squish a hose onto the nozzle that sticks out of the side of most camping gas cookers).
Now to clear up a bit of confusion. The Safari Chef (and some of the other models) comes with a choice of either low pressure or high pressure. The high pressure version takes throw-away canisters; the low pressure one uses a hose and larger refillable gas cylinder. The LP (which also gives higher cooking temperatures) is more suited to car, campervan and caravan users, while the HP is probably better for people wanting to keep weight down.
The overall size of the Cadac in its neat storage bag is about 38x38x38cm and it weighs around 4kg. Probably not for backpackers, but easy to tuck into a well-loaded car!
Our HP version came with a carrybag, a set of basic instructions (no recipes), a bottom deflector and top deflector, a grille, a reversible griddle/frying pan, a lid that doubles as a wok or large pan and a pizza or baking stone.
Our first test was a litre of water, which took eight minutes to boil with a slight wind. A windbreak would make a difference.
Then it was on to the exciting cooking – crabcakes, a stirfry and a seafood chowder. We used all but the baking stone and found the surfaces easy to cook on and easy to clean. It was fairly simple to control the heat (once we got the hang of the knob) and, although charcoal cooking has its advantages, the speed and lack of smoke was lovely!
Another factor is that many European campsites don’t allow charcoal barbecues these days because of the fire risk. The Cadac is more gas stove than barbecue so shouldn’t bring an angry owner rushing to your tent.
You’ll find our recipes below. Meanwhile, what was the verdict?
What we liked
- The pop-out legs are nifty and spring out into place very easily. The old-style metal legs were certainly sturdier, though
- No charcoal, so things stay cleaner and you’re cooking straight away.
- Good range of cooking surfaces
- Neat size
- Good size cooking surface for two people
- Can stand on the floor or a table
- Fairly easy to clean, though we didn’t cook any fatty meat/sausages We’ll report back when we know whether the drain holes really do carry cooking juices away properly
What could be improved
- At the time of testing, the Safari Chef didn’t have a piezo ignition. New models do, so that’s one improvement made already!
- The new plastic legs do give a bit of wobble
- It takes a bit of practice to get the gas to the level you need for a simmer
- The design is functional – if you’re into sleek stainless steel, you might prefer the Cobb or Lotus Grill.
- You’ll need a larger model for bigger family meals
- Unlike with the Cobb, there are no lifting tools so that you can swap hot sections as you need them. You’ll need gloves. Mind you, because there are no coals to burn down, it cools quickly.
Crabcakes, a chowder and a simple stirfry
A quick mix and something a bit special. Serve with salad or even with the vegetable stirfry that follows below.
- 100g bulgur wheat (or couscous)
- 150g crab meat (fresh brown meat is best, but you can even use tinned)
- two tablespoons of mayonnaise
- finely chopped shallot, onion or spring onions
- parsley, chervil, coriander…whatever you like or have
- green or red chilli chopped
- zest of a small lemon
- an egg
- olive oil
- salt and pepper, plus sumac if you have any (though entirely optional)
- Boil the bulgur with twice its volume of water and simmer for three to four minutes. Strain and leave to cool.
- Put all the other ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze any water out of the cool bulgur and add the grains to the bowl.
- Form into burger shapes –as big or as small as you like and fry on the Cadac’s smooth frying surface in hot oil till golden and crispy on the outside.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon over the top and maybe a yoghurty dipping sauce or garlic mayonnaise.
Anything can go in a stirfry…well, almost anything. Here’s what we had hanging around:
- spring onion
- kale (pak choi’s nicer!)
- tenderstem broccoli
Then we mixed the following in a jamjar
- two tablespoons of soy sauce and two of vinegar
- a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
- a pinch of pepper
- Put a little oil in the Cadac wok or a big frying pan. Get it nice and hot.
- Add the chunkier vegetables that will take more cooking and cook till they’re losing a bit of their crispness.
- Add the garlic and chilli. Ginger would be good too.
- Add the rest of the veg and keep it moving. When everything’s cooked (but not mushy), shake your jar and pour the dressing over – not all at once, you might want to save some for adding while you eat. Serve after a few seconds of warming through.
- If you have some ready-cooked noodles, you could add these to the stirfry before adding the dressing. Just stir well and heat through.
Gorgeous and creamy and fishy and smoky all at once. Delicious with crusty bread and a green salad on the side. The only problem is keeping raw fish cool before you cook. Have a look at our article on buying a camping fridge, or even better, camp next to a fishing boat.
- butter or oil
- a medium onion sliced or diced
- a couple of rashers of bacon, pancetta or even a bit of chorizo (chopped chunkily, and optional)
- About 350g raw fish – we used smoked haddock, salmon and some cleaned mussels (in shells or not)
- a medium potato in chunks (use a leftover cooked one, or leave it out if needs be)
- double cream (or we like Oatly ‘cream’ as a non-dairy alternative)
- milk (or an unsweetened non-dairy alternative)
- a tablespoon of flour
- herbs – parsley, chives, chervil, dill are all nice, but whatever you have)
- Pepper to season. Try pimenton too – smoked paprika adds a bit of depth, especially if you haven’t used smoked fish. And a squeeze of lemon can lift the dish.
- Using either the Cadac’s deep pan/wok or your own pan on the Cadac’s pot-stand, heat the butter or oil and add the bacon and onion. Cook until they’re starting to brown/crisp.
- Add your potato (if using), fish and milk. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. You want the fish to be just-cooked rather than disappearing
- Add the flour to thicken the sauce a bit – slake it with a little milk or water to stop it going lumpy. Stir and then add the cream.
- Mix in your chopped herbs and season with black pepper. You probably won’t need salt if you’re using smoked fish.