Serving Up Stories on the Urban Asado Grill

Home is a lot more than just a place where you live. You live in a house, an apartment, a condo. But “home” is the place where your family is, where you feel most comfortable, where your life and your story is built into the walls.  Our Home Issue is more than merely articles about people that build decor or sell houses or work on structures. We explore and highlight the creation of something more. It is a collection that celebrates the people that turn houses into homes.

For us, Nick and Christie and their Urban Asado grill created fellowship and friendship and family. When we photographed their grill, we were able to experience first hand the atmosphere that such a piece cultivates. We gathered around the flames and the sizzling meal and, though most of us had never met Nick and Christie before, spent the whole evening laughing like old friends. For us, Urban Asado represented more than just decorating, building, or creating a house. It represented the feel and the joy of family and of home.

In a restored warehouse between downtown St. Augustine’s Riberia Street and the San Sebastián River, sits the unique grill-making business called Urban Asado. The tapping of metal riggings on shrimp boats anchored in the river near the Collaborative District, Urban Asado’s home, can be heard as the owner, Nick Carrera, shares the details of his business.

Urban Asado makes handcrafted grills based on concepts seen and experienced in Argentina by Nick. The Spanish word “Asado” simply means “Grill.” But put to rest all you know about grills. These asados are based on a simple design that doesn’t utilize the traditional hood or any bulky accessories. The heat comes from burning wood beneath a crank-driven grill that moves up and down to adjust the cooking time and temperature. A drip pan catches all the natural juices from the roasted meat which may be utilized in the cooking. The open-air flame delivers real wood flavor to the food being cooked without overpowering it with a smoky taste.

Nick remembers this type of grilling from his childhood, “Growing up, we had family and friends over and everyone brought something to eat or to put on the grill. It was a time to socialize and to enjoy being with one another. There was no rush to eat certain courses at specific times. The cooking over the open fire was the experience. We ate here and there as things were finished cooking.” These wonderful childhood memories of family gatherings stayed with Nick as he and his wife, Christie, continued the tradition with their children.

Nick opened his business about three years ago.“The inspiration was always there with my father and my kids,” says Nick, “Unfortunately, my wife’s parents passed within a month of each other almost six years ago. That was when things started to change. We’re definitely more family driven. Instead of it being a dream or a hobby or something later on down the road, we knew we needed to do something then. That was the big eye-opener. We realized that we couldn’t take time for granted. If you’re always looking for the perfect scenario when everything lines up, you’ll never do anything. We had to make this happen, do what we enjoy, and show our kids how to move on your dream.”

Urban Asado is a business that’s about more than just grilling. It’s about the meeting of people during the experience of grilling. Nick smiles, “Gathering around an open flame and cooking food is communal. I want people to have that connection when they’re using our grills.”

Urban Asado is located in the Collaborative District at 150 Riberia Street, Unit C. Visit their website at Photography by Rob Futrell

A writer and an artist, Alexter has spent his life in St. Augustine sharpening and sharing his talents. His work has been featured in the St. Augustine Record and the Ponte Vedra Leader. Alexter has written five books with many more in development.