Drunkenly checking my e-mail one evening last summer, I spotted an email from a Made Man editor that read something along the lines of, “You wanna test out a grill that costs more than a new car?”
Like a single guy with a cute girl’s phone number, I waited until the next day to respond; I didn’t want to seem too eager.
But I was giddy with excitement to get to play around with a Kalamazoo grill, one I’ve only seen in advertisements, in culinary magazines and in my dreams.
The grill is so powerful and oblivious to the external conditions that grilling in sub-zero temperatures was actually quite simple. If the Kalamazoo can make winter grilling a breeze, imagine what it can do to summer grilling. And spring grilling. And fall grilling.
The company sent me the K750HS model (base price: $20,695), a hybrid freestanding grill with a side burner. It’s a hybrid because it features a propane hookup, a drawer that allows you to use charcoal and another drawer that allows for wood.
You can use any of the three, or two at once, or, if you’re feeling crazy, all three at once. Though unless you’re having the Chiefs’ O-line over for dinner, I can’t imagine that much grilling power would ever be necessary.
I primarily used the propane, and often added wood for smoky flavor. The charcoal drawer works great as well—I just never felt much need to use charcoal with the immense amount of propane firepower at my disposal. Since it uses a larger tank than other grills, the scientific way to categorize the propane capabilities is to say it has a “shitload” of BTUs. That’s science.
There are plenty of other great features. The cooking surface measures 33” x 22” with a narrow rack the length of the grill about a foot above the grilling surface. It ignites with the touch of a button (seriously), has panel lighting for night grilling, a thermometer that reads from 0 to1000 degrees Fahrenheit (and it can get that hot), a powerful rotisserie system with two infrared burners, and what they call “deep hopper cleaning” which essentially means you don’t have to do much to keep it clean and you don’t have to clean it very often.
The rotisserie feature is one of my favorites. I cooked ducks, chickens and a prime rib roast, all with minimal effort. I love my Weber rotisserie attachment, but with the Kalamazoo there’s no need to add coals every hour, which means working with bigger hunks of meat is a much easier process. And, you get a perfect temperature for rotisserie cooking with the back burner. The prime rib roast was especially perfect and using a little wood smoke added color and flavor that took the expensive cut of meat over the top.
As a longtime Weber user, I must say that one of the biggest advantages was the incredibly easy starter button. This made mid-winter grilling quite simple and relatively painless. The grill is so powerful and oblivious to the external conditions that grilling in sub-zero temperatures was actually quite simple. If the Kalamazoo can make winter grilling a breeze, imagine what it can do to summer grilling. And spring grilling. And fall grilling.
The negatives? There aren’t many. One frustration I had with the grill was my inability to get it to smoke meats very well. I found it difficult to keep a slow and low temperature. It’s easy to get this grill up to 800 degrees in a few short minutes, but having it sit at a constant 200 was difficult. Other than that, I have no real complaints.
So, is this grill worth it? It’s really more of a philosophical question than a financial one. This grill, without a doubt, is a luxury item. You don’t need it, but you should want it.
Now, if you just lost your job and have been eating a lot of ramen lately, it’s probably not for you for you. If your last name was just added to the sign on the front of your law firm and you want a nice grill for the backyard of the new mansion you’re building, go for it.
I imagine most of you, like me, fall somewhere between these two extremes. Still, if grilling is as big a part of your life as it is mine, you should at least check it out. Especially if you don’t mind making a tradeoff and riding around on a moped.