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Backyard Chefs Fired Up Over Infrared Grills

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the there's-no-manly-technology-icon dept.

229

Vicissidude writes "With the expiration of a key patent, major gas-grill manufacturers have scrambled to bring infrared cooking to the masses. The grills are still powered by propane and have traditional gas burners that heat mostly by convection — or hot air. But they also can cook foods with radiant heat generated by one or more infrared burners. Char-Broil says its advanced burners operate at 450 to 900 degrees, hotter than the 450 to 750 degrees of standard gas burners. And unlike charcoal, which can require 20 to 30 minutes to reach its 700-degree cooking temperature, heat from the infrared burners can be adjusted quickly. Bill Best, founder of Thermal Electric of Columbia, S.C., developed the technology in the 1960s, primarily to give automakers a faster way to dry the paint on cars."

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Apocalypse (3, Funny)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288571)

I like the taste of paint in the early morning

Re:Apocalypse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288591)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us] . Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Re:Apocalypse (3, Funny)

bobo mahoney (1098593) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288661)

Will you be able to get that glossy shine on you steaks too?

I for one... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288579)

Well I for one welcome our new death ray wielding overlords

Re:I for one... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288727)

Each one bearing a copy of "To Serve Man" [wikipedia.org] . :P

It's a Cook Book! (2)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288855)

It's a Cook Book!

Paris, is that you? (2, Funny)

niko9 (315647) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288583)

That's hot!

Re:Paris, is that you? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288633)

Paris can't comment right now. She is busy flashing her vagina to prison dykes.

YRO? (5, Funny)

bronzey214 (997574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288589)

How, how, HOW(!?!?) is this related to my rights online?

Will owning this grill magically make my Firefox not fit in my internet tubes? It's from all the hamburgers isn't it?

Maaaaybe, it's for roasting my Thunderbird on a spit glazed in BBQ sauce. I guess that's somehow related.

Re:YRO? (5, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288613)

As I understood it, the article is about a patent expiration. I think the message here is that the mass marketing of a consumer item was delayed a few years because there was a patent holding it back.


So much for patents being an incentive to innovation...

This is perfect topic for slashdot (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288645)

There is lots of hot air.
Everything gets grilled.
The idea is analagous to car technology.
And there was a patent involved.

Re:YRO? (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288687)

On the contrary, I think this is a perfect example of patents being an incentive to innovation:

With the expiration of a key patent, major gas-grill manufacturers, including market leader Char-Broil, have scrambled to bring infrared cooking to the masses with models in the $500 to $1,000 range. Previously, such grills cost as much as $5,000.

So Bill Best invented the grill, patented it and used his temporary monopoly to sell the grill for a high price and (presumably) made lots of money from his invention. Why shouldn't he be allowed to do this? It's not like an infra-red grill is a basic human necessity.
Now the patent has expired, other companies are free to improve it and sell it for cheaper. Fine. That's why patents have a limited term of 20 years (and it's exactly why copyright should have a much shorter term too).

Re:YRO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288821)

So Bill Best invented the grill, patented it and used his temporary monopoly to sell the grill for a high price and (presumably) made lots of money from his invention. Why shouldn't he be allowed to do this?


He should, but don't tell that to /.ers, 99.9% of whom do not have the imagination required to produce a bowel movement.

Re:YRO? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289229)

...do not have the imagination required to produce a bowel movement.
You may not see it right away, but that's a very ironic thing for you to say...

If you want to put imagination into your bowel movement, eat eight bowls of cereal - the first being a bowl of bran flakes, the second a bowl of generic fruit loops - then repeat this order another three times. You'll produce a LARGE brown & green striped turd (and if you think I'm kidding, I've got a picture to send you...).

Re:YRO? (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289003)

So Bill Best invented the grill, patented it and used his temporary monopoly to sell the grill for a high price and (presumably) made lots of money from his invention. Why shouldn't he be allowed to do this?

The question is not why he should be "allowed" to do this, but why other people's freedoms should be restricted to facilitate this. Remember, a patent doesn't give the inventor rights, it takes away rights from everyone but the inventor.

And in this case, it might not have been a bad call. However, the fact still remains that, instead of spurring on the invention of consumer-level infra-red grills, this patent held back development until such a time that the patent was no longer an issue.

Re:YRO? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289091)

People's rights be even more restricted if he had never invented the infrared grill in the first place.

Re:YRO? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289707)

Assuming that in the whole wild world only he would have done it.

Re:YRO? (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289081)

So Bill Best invented the grill, patented it and used his temporary monopoly to sell the grill for a high price and (presumably) made lots of money from his invention. Why shouldn't he be allowed to do this? It's not like an infra-red grill is a basic human necessity.


He didn't invent the grill he invented a method for drying car paint faster. The article gives no indication at all if he's actually made any money off the patent in fact. It implies his company worked with the grill industry AFTER his patent expired to make the grills cheaper. It doesn't even list any info on whether or not infrared grills were even selling before the patent expired.

Re:YRO? (3, Insightful)

Jartan (219704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288731)

As I understood it, the article is about a patent expiration. I think the message here is that the mass marketing of a consumer item was delayed a few years because there was a patent holding it back.


The article is worded badly. The original patent was created in the 1960s and expired in 2000. Then after it expired they started trying to figure out how to use it in a grill and it still took them 7 years to make it cheap enough for home owners.

The article doesn't seem to really go into WHY they waited for it to expire though. It could be that they couldn't use it anyways for all we know.

Re:YRO? (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289085)

Then it's pretty ambiguous. For all we know, it might still have taken until 2007 for the cost of the materials & technology to go down far enough to be affordable for this use.

The article didn't say for sure if the original company was willing to license the technology out at rates low enough to allow affordable grills, nor did it say how much they wanted for the licenses.

I would suspect that it's very possible that it was the actual construction cost and not the patent cost that was prohibitive, but it's hard for me to be swayed either way on this particular case given how little information there is.

20 yr patent lasted 40 yrs?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289355)

Nor do they explain why a 20 year patent lasted 40 years.

Re:YRO? (1, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289441)

The article is worded badly. The original patent was created in the 1960s and expired in 2000. Then after it expired they started trying to figure out how to use it in a grill and it still took them 7 years to make it cheap enough for home owners.
Correction: the patent expired in 2000 and it took them 7 years to hire a PR company who was clever enough to make this a patent-related business news story instead of a much more boring new product announcement. And it's got all the right makings... this is the technology used by high-end chefs (social proof), used to cost $5K but now yours for under $1K (value), be one of the first on your block (exclusivity), etc.
 

Re:YRO? (0, Redundant)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289131)

Patenting is incentive to patent hoarding and abusing the patents to make money(by litigation).They slow down technological progress.

Re:YRO? (0)

Vicissidude (878310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288733)

How, how, HOW(!?!?) is this related to my rights online?

This thing was patented in the 60s, which recently expired. Previously, the grills cost $5000, meaning only professional chefs and wealthy people used them. Now that there's actual competition for production, prices have lowered to the $500-$1000 range and other manufacturers are now improving the design. Take this example and apply it to any other patent discussion you wish... If that doesn't satisfy you as an explanation, then realize that infrared grill doesn't exactly fit most categories on Slashdot.

As for why this is on Slashdot at all, that has to do with the fact that they're infrared, which instantly makes it geeky.

Re:YRO? (1)

kungfujesus (969971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288993)

If you're out grilling, then your right to waste your time on /. is being violated.

Re:YRO? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289073)

They're gonna outlaw real charcoal and lighter fluid. Into the trash heap with those incandescent light bulbs they go. No more nuclear holocaust in the backyard anymore. If congress tries this, let's all mail them a briquet.

Re:YRO? (1)

ignavus (213578) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289813)

You can have infra-red devices on your computer, right?

Well, now you can cook with them. Instant nachos and pizza. See? You don't have to go off line to make it.

Sheesh! Doesn't anyone here think?

Mmmmmmm, grilled Firefox.

Ahhh (2, Interesting)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288621)

Is there anything propane CAN'T do?

Re:Ahhh (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288683)

Is there anything propane CAN'T do?

Can propane show you naked women?

Re:Ahhh (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288729)

If it's a pane of one way glass at a peep show? That'd make it a pro pane, and it'd let you see naked women...

Re:Ahhh (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288797)

Well you can burn clothes with a propane torch ...

Re:Ahhh (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289521)


Can propane show you naked women?


Well, no, not exactly, but with propane (or pretty much any other fuel, for that matter), I can make food that almost makes women line up to take their cloths off.

Re:Ahhh (1)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288835)

Add flavor to the food you're cooking over it?

Re:Ahhh (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288875)

"Taste the meat, not the heat!"

Yes, there IS something propane can't do (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288937)

Reek worse than one of my father's farts after a few Colt45s and some burritos.

Re:Ahhh (1)

revengebomber (1080189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289411)

It can't put out a fire. Don't believe me? Try it!

Re:Ahhh (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289995)

A fire need 3 things: fuel, oxygen and heat. If you fill a room with propane you will have to little oxygen (and heat?).

Re:Ahhh (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289473)

Taste like a real barbecue. There's a reason why no one in cook-offs use propane grills. I wouldn't give up my charcoal for anything.

mmhmm (1)

UU7 (103653) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289525)

be funny, see king of the hill.

Hey, I've got one of those (5, Informative)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288649)

Just got a new grill a couple of weeks ago and it came with an "infrared burner" in it. There's nothing that says that a geek can't enjoy a nice grilled T-bone from time to time is there? Can't have pizza every night, you know.

OK, so this fancy burner looks different but doesn't seem to make a significant difference in performance. YMMV and all that, but I wouldn't pay extra for one of these. It's basically a ceramic grid that the gas blows through, so it's more fragile than the typical rolled steel or cast iron burner - probably cheaper to manufacture, too.

Actually, it's about as close to a non-significant change in gas grill technology as you can get. Who greenlighted this story?

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (1)

lawrenlives (991376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288703)

This is not just a grill, this uses acual pieces of the sun, combined with some radioactive vials from Chernobyl, and -I know this is interesting also to the ladies out there- it uses heat to cook burgers, steak, chicken, no problem.

And best of all, its not even supposed to be inside this country!

cough

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288725)

On the other hand, it won't rust like a rolled steel or cast iron burner, and unless you take your grill on the road a lot the physical strength won't matter as much as the corrosion resistance. I'd say the ceramic grid is likely a better technology, and I bet it's more expensive than the steel/cast iron version.

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289285)

Why would pottery be more expensive than steel? How exactly did this 4000 year old technology get patented in the first place?

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288769)

From TFA:

But original infrared burners -- and some offered now to consumers -- contained ceramic material that was hard to clean, prone to flare-ups and fragile, Schwing said.

Char-Broil formed a strategic alliance with Best's company to develop a new generation of burners known as the Char-Broil TEC series. The fragile ceramics have been eliminated. There's a layer of glass to shield the burners from drippings and provide even heat distribution.

Seven years after Best's patent expired, those improvements are available at a price more affordable to weekend grillers.


It sounds like the new BBQs aren't as fragile as the one you have. Still, the only advantage they seem to offer is slightly higher temperatures for 'searing' the meat. Sounds like a marginal benefit.


Also, according to TFA, the patent in question expired seven years ago. This story has the distinct smell of a fluff piece.

Also, the patent in question expired seven years ago.

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289697)

Also, according to TFA, the patent in question expired seven years ago. This story has the distinct smell of a fluff piece.

Also, the patent in question expired seven years ago.
The patent also expired in 2000.
 

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289007)

I was hoping it might be hot enough to cook a decent pizza (think coal fired ovens). I guess that's not the case? too bad.

Re:Hey, I've got one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289101)

Get a decent pizza stone and stop your bitching.

Roll your own (1)

ScottBob (244972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289499)

I put some ceramic honeycomb material from an old infrared space heater on the rack where the lava rocks would go, makes for an awesome poor man's infrared grill.

Yawn. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288699)

Wake me when they have the infrared charcoal grill. That I wanna see.

unlike charcoal (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288713)


it will cook bland food with no flavour
charcoal (especially made from your favourite food, like oak chippings) is part of the equation a catalyst if you will

fuel+fire+food+fat&juices+charcoal+smoke=flavour

Re:unlike charcoal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288801)

I'm not sure about you, but I always try to *avoid* having my burgers taste like charcoal.

Re:unlike charcoal (1)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288879)

You're missing out, then. Charcoal is the only way to cook meat.

Re:unlike charcoal (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288985)

Well, that and plugging your food directly into 120v AC

Re:unlike charcoal (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289213)

I'm not sure about you, but I always try to *avoid* having my burgers taste like charcoal.
I guess you've never heard of using real wood charcoal.. the non-fabricated kind. The real stuff is essentially singed wood and happens to be what professional grillers use. The fabricated kind is singed saw dust plus coal plus a few other ingredients.

Re:unlike charcoal (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289029)

If you want flavor-from-your-fuel, I suggest wood chips. Like hickory or mesquite. I would certainly not suggest cooking your food over petro-carbon infused, partially burned, glued-together bits of industrial waste.

The handy thing about charcoal is that it's handy. It is better than wood in terms of heat-to-weight and heat-to-volume ratios. Also it's fairly easy to light. But it tastes terrible, especially if you use lighter fluid to get it going.

Re:unlike charcoal (4, Informative)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289053)

Mesquite Charcoal and a charcoal chimney. No filler, no fuel needed, burns hotter and cleaner, leaving a much smaller mess behind.

Re:unlike charcoal (3, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289245)

By the way, if you insist on cooking with wood or charcoal, get a Big Green Egg--you might not want to use anything else afterwards.

Re:unlike charcoal (2, Interesting)

ScottBob (244972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289731)

But I LIKE the taste that petroleum coke, lignite coal, wooden pallets, limestone, starch, and triple distilled jet fuel gives to food! MMMMmmmm... Brisket... droooooool...

What I don't like is whenever people try to cook TOO MANY burgers at once on the coals, for instance, at a company picnic. All the grease dripping from the burgers leads to a raging grease fire, which lends a sooty taste reminiscent of burnt plastic to the burgers. Attempts at putting out the grease fire with a squirt bottle usually causes it to rage even more and kicks up ash which further gives a bad taste to the burgers.

My favorite way to grill burgers and steaks over charcoal is on a hibachi. Do they even make those anymore?

Re:unlike charcoal (2, Funny)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289103)

I don't know about your favourite foods, but oak chippings is way down on my list...

Re:unlike charcoal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289107)

I'm way ahead of you. Wait till you see my patent application for mesquite-flavored LEDs.

How is this News for Nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288741)

They require us to go outside and socialize, when most nerds can get healthier food from a George Foreman Grill.

Gee (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288745)

I'm so glad that a patent on a product intended to dry paint stopped some people from using the same technology to cook meat. Obviously this patent protected the original intended use and enhanced innovation.

Yay, a hotter grill! (3, Funny)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288759)

Now more steaks and burgers can be burned on the outside, raw on the inside!

Where's the flavor? (5, Interesting)

Ninety-9 SE-L (1052214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288761)

I've been using propane grills for a number of years, now. Although simple to use and quicker at reaching their desired heat, I find they're quite a pain to clean and maintain. Yearly, I have to replace the burners, lava rocks, and scrape all the crud off the sides. I think the glass plate may or may not help in this department, however, it all depends on if you let the grease sit on it for too long. I recently switched back to charcoal for the time being and I have to mention, the taste you get from charcoal is unbeatable by any propane grill. With that in mind, what kind of taste are you going to get from a virtually flame-less grill? To me, it's no different than sticking a steak in the oven (assuming an oven could reach 700-900*).

Re:Where's the flavor? (1)

Merc248 (1026032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288787)

Easy, put charcoal in pepper churning device Sprinkle charcoal on steak Then, success!

Re:Where's the flavor? (1)

Merc248 (1026032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288809)

I also have to comment on my lack of ability to use HTML in such an informative post (hint hint, moderators!)

Re:Where's the flavor? (1)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288819)

I would highly recommend dumping the propane and going with mesquite charcoal. With my charcoal chimney, I'm ready to cook in about 15 minutes. Unlike briquettes, mesquite has no filler, plus you can use less since it also burns a bit hotter, so there's a lot less mess afterwards to scoop up. I spend about 30 seconds to clean out the ashes into my ash bin.

Re:Where's the flavor? (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288923)

Propane burns fairly clean and ads little in terms of flavor, no matter how the heat is transferred to the meat. Charcoal ads that certain smokiness that some of us love. These "flame-less" grills burn the same tasteless propane as other grills, therefore they shouldn't add anything much to the flavor, nor lack anything that standard gas grills provide. I've tried all sorts of cooking methods, and I still REALLY like charcoal for a lot of things. The new infrared ones just make cooking evenly at a high temp a bit easier, which is supposed to keep meat from getting dried out. Hank Hill says they allow you to "Taste the meat, not the heat."

Re:Where's the flavor? (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289175)

What's interesting is that many barbecue chefs are switching to propane-fired infrared grills because you have the fast heat up speed of gas combined with the high temperature cooking of charcoal (conventional gas grills cook at around 500 F., charcoal grills cook at around 700 F., and infrared grills cook at around 750 F.). At least with an infrared grill, you don't waste time waiting for the the grill to reach the right cooking temperature (even with a charcoal chimney starter, it takes several minutes to bring the cooking temperature up) and definitely not bother with cleaning up the ashes afterwards.

Re:Where's the flavor? (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289307)

Actually they are quite easy to clean. I just light it and run it at maximum for 15 minutes. Whatever is left after that doesn't matter...

BTW, this is best done after you finished cooking your steak, since it takes a long time to cool down to a usable temperature. Don't let the barby stand dirty.

Why? (1, Flamebait)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288783)

One day someone will be able to explain to me the point in going outside to use a grill that cooks your food in practically the same manner as the broiler in your oven. I'll take a bag of mesquite charcoal and my New Braunfels smoker over something like this any day. You grill for the flavor. Propane, electric, and now infrared just miss the entire point AFAIC.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288929)

Yeah, whats the point in hurrying to cook outside - I thought you were supposed to make a day of it. Drink some beer, talk shit about the fine art of getting the charcoal just right and all that. I have a microwave you know.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

localman (111171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289181)

Call me a heretic, but there are a few reasons why I do it from time to time. Mainly it's fun, more fun than using my indoor broiler. But also it still tastes better than inside cooking if you thow some mesquite chips on the grill first, right on top of the lava-rocks that sit on top of the propane. It's convenient and it still tastes pretty good and you wouldn't want to do that indoors. Also, even without the mesquite chips, grilling over a flame seems to work better than grilling under a flame. Something about heat rising, I would guess.

In the end I will admit that a true smoke is the way to go for ultimate flavor, but for me I can get most of the flavor, most of the fun, and less hassle with a propane grill.

Cheers.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289747)

One day someone will be able to explain to me the point in going outside to use a grill that cooks your food in practically the same manner as the broiler in your oven.

One day someone will invent a grill that cooks food in some manner resembling an oven broiler - and your question will have meaning. Until then, grilling cooks food significantly differently that a broiler. Among other things, a broiler does not produce smoke from the food dripping. A broiler also tends to operate in a 'damp' enviroment (because an oven is a closed box), while a grill tends to be dryer.
 
 

I'll take a bag of mesquite charcoal and my New Braunfels smoker over something like this any day. You grill for the flavor. Propane, electric, and now infrared just miss the entire point AFAIC.

Yes, I grill for flavor - and propane provides it in spades. I own a charcoal grill too, and I choose between them depending on the effect I want and what I'm grilling.
 
Someone who grills over nothing but one kind of flavored charcoal is the one missing the point. It's kinda like pouring ketchup over everything, because it all ends up tasting the same.

The patent expired seven YEARS ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288811)

...so how exactly is this "scrambling" (or even newsworthy?)

Waste of money (5, Informative)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288853)

CharBroil is now selling consumer propane grills with technology licensed (or parts directly purchased?) from Thermal Engineer Corp, I understand. My restaurant used TEC commercial char broilers successfully for years, and they performed well. Recently, we tried switching to the infrared-style grills, and almost immediately purchased new grills made by another manufacturer. We were assured that the TEC infrared models would cook fast and evenly without flaring up. However, they caught fire in spectacular fashion on a regular basis. Utterly terrible.

To make matters worse, the glass plate that does the work precludes misting or dousing with water to extinguish small fires. Food particles, marinade, etc. fall on the glass and collect there, and are almost immediately ignited. I can't wait to see the complaints CharBroil gets after Joe Barbecue Wizard every shatters his glass plate trying to clean it or sets his house ablaze.

If you think this shouldn't be posted here, you are a loser. BBQing and grilling out = stuff that definitely matters!

Only One Statement (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288903)

OMGWTFBBQ

Bah! (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288921)

If you can't master a simple task like making a charcoal fire, you don't deserve a steak.

-jcr

Re:Bah! (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288949)

With or without lighter fluid?

--
Toro

Re:Bah! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289043)

Whatever you throw on your fire, you're going to taste on the food. So.. technically it's up to you.

Re:Bah! (1)

instagib (879544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289087)

Not necessary. A portable fan (on low speed) works really well, and you can direct the smoke away from you and the waiting (hungry) fellows.

Re:Bah! (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289619)

With or without lighter fluid?
I start mine with newspapers and dry sticks. Takes a little more skill than lighter fluid, and I really mean "a little". You can get one of those chimney things, but it's optional.

A lot of people make grilling more complicated than it needs to be. All you really need is a sturdy metal grate, some hard wood (DO NOT use soft resinous woods like pine - it creates a lot of soot and makes the food taste funky) and something to light it with.

Damn dogs. (1)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288925)

This'll teach the dog not to get all up in my grill.

Infrared emissions == HEAT (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288935)

I would assume the patent application is for the way they *generate* the heat, not for the process of "using heat to cook." I'm pretty sure there's prior art on that one. ;^)

(and why anyone would want to cook meat at TWICE the normal temperature of a common grill is beyond me. It sounds like a "Home Improvement" MORE POWER moment. 6 hours at 350F is not the same as 3 hours at 700F. Just ask Alton Brown.)

--
Toro

Re:Infrared emissions == HEAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289137)

For good pieces of meat (not hamburgers), some people prefer them rare - flash cooked on the outside, moist on the inside. Brief exposure to high heat can do that. Lower heat == longer cook times == shoe leather.

Re:Infrared emissions == HEAT (2, Interesting)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289185)

Good idea - ask Alton why you'd want to cook meat at higher temperatures than found in the home kitchen. The holy grail of steaks: nicely browned and grill marked on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside - can only be found through the application of very high temperatures.

Many steak house kitchens use a cooking device called a "salamander" to cook steaks. It's essentially two of these infrared elements; one above, one below and just enough room to slide the steak inbetween. Those reach temperatures of 1500 degrees or more - and the people who eat the steaks rave about how well they're cooked.

Being a proper sort of geek, I converted my new grill from propane to natural gas before lighting it the first time. A quick change of inlet hose and a little numbered drill action on the orifices and I never have to worry about running out of propane. While I was at it, I uprated the main burners just a touch so that I can get it up to some even higher temperatures for cooking meats.

Cooking at these higher temperatures isn't like cooking on charcoal or a regular propane grill. Things cook faster and flare-ups don't happen; drips vaporize (poof) and only provide added flavor.

If I feel like I'm missing the good old campfire flavor, I can throw some wood chips in the smoker box. Hickory is nice, sometimes cherry is better. I think I've got a bag of mesquite chips around here somewhere...

For those who wonder why anyone wouldn't use charcoal - turn knob, push button - 15 minutes later the temperature is passing 700 and it's time to toss the meat on. Yum yum - and after cooking, turn the main burners all the way up, close the lid, and check back in 30 minutes. All the mess is now ash; brush it away and it's clean again.

Why not broil in the oven? Not the same thing at all! Your household cooking appliances are designed so the average knuckle-dragger won't burn the house down. Those gray steaks that only have a thin pink stripe in the middle are a poor shadow of what a well grilled steak is like. And by having the cooking fire outdoors, the house stays cooler in the summer.

Gas grills are a very good thing when well designed and well handled - capable of better and more dependable results than a charcoal fired grill. Does that ceramic infrared burner add anything to the equation? I'm not convinced; it's more of a spec sheet checkoff for the marketing department.

Re:Infrared emissions == HEAT (1)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289609)

For those who wonder why anyone wouldn't use charcoal - turn knob, push button - 15 minutes later the temperature is passing 700 and it's time to toss the meat on. Yum yum - and after cooking, turn the main burners all the way up, close the lid, and check back in 30 minutes. All the mess is now ash; brush it away and it's clean again. I start mesquite charcoal in a charcoal chimney on my grill grates. This gets the coals started and heats the grates at the same time. Takes about 15 minutes to do this, and because the charcoal is made from real wood and doesn't have any filler, there's barely any mess afterwards. My grill is ready to go as soon as I dump the coals out of the charcoal chimney. I've had both at gas and charcoal at home, and I worked for ten years professionally in steak houses and fine restaurants where both gas and charcoal was used. The major reasons that gas is used in restaurants for grilling is for the convenience, cost and the ability to train some schlub how to cook a consistent steak. It takes real skill to work a Friday night with charcoal, chefs that can handle the pressure and keep a consistent fire going are far and few between. Most anyone in the business can learn to use gas. Not many places use salamanders for steaks anymore either. I think Ruths Chris is one of the last ones. Most use high quality natural gas grills, or are switching over to mesquite charcoal. Someone else already said it, there's a reason that competitive grill and BBQ contestants don't use gas.

What's wrong with patents (2, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288963)

This is a perfect example of one of the big problems of patents as currently implemented. They're supposed to be there to reward inventors and promote innovation -- but here the patent was doing the exact opposite, it's preventing new grill designs. The headline shouldn't be "patent expiration enables new grills," but rather "patent expiration makes grills cheaper." In theory, the market should make this happen through patent royalties. But obviously this patent holder would be making more in grill royalties if the patent were being licensed at a reasonable rate, and the grill makers and grill users would be better off too. So why do we all too often see patents *not* being licensed? The more I see this occur the more I think a compulsory licensing scheme for patents would be helpful. Remember, patents aren't just supposed to reward inventors -- they're supposed to encourage inventors to share their ideas *so that society can use them*. Patents should be benefiting both the inventor and the rest of us!

Re:What's wrong with patents (1)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289139)

The question is, why didn't he license it? Was it because he's a dick? Did he not see the point? Was the money offered too little? Were the grill companies dicks about it? The law gave him several decades to market this - the reasons why it wasn't licensed don't matter. Fortunately, the law then says that anyone can play with it - and they are. Maybe he just needed a better agent - anybody know for sure?

Re:What's wrong with patents (4, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289163)

Well, the patent expired 7 years ago, so there goes that theory.

Patents do encourage inventors to share their ideas, but they were never meant to go into society's hands concurrent with issuing. Without a limited patent duration, you have two possible realities: either the company gets a perpetual stranglehold on that technology because government has no business limiting it (the Libertarian approach) or you have companies terrified of introducing their discovery because if cost them millions of dollars to figure it out, and cheap knockoffs for a fraction of the price would appear on the market nearly instantaneously (the "information wants to be free" approach).

Neither one is particularly beneficial for society or companies. This sounds exactly like evidence for why patents work and are an important part of the innovation cycle. It also demonstrates that companies like to hide behind patents keeping their "great products" from the market when in fact they haven't really figured out all the details (i.e. a smoke screen for their vaporware products). If it was the patent holding back innovation, this article would have been written in 2000. There have certainly been infrared products offered for sale for several years now, legally, but beyond the reach of most customers. If you think that's because of the patent and not because of the newness and narrowness of the market, though, you're kidding yourself.

Adapting a technology to a new market and new packaging costs a lot of money and involves a lot of trial and error. Any patent licensing on the method is just one small part of that.

Yeah, at first glance it sounds like a great idea for "the rest of us" to get things 15-20 years faster. But the flip side is, "what's in it for the creator/investors?" Investors deserve to get something out of the deal, too. If that's a decade or two of exclusive use to generate profits, which are in turn invested in new products (and corporate accounting blunders), so be it.

Yes, we could force companies to have profit limits, spending requirements, and compulsory licensing of their creations. We could also eliminate hunger entirely by dictating food production and distribution. It's only a matter of what you want to give up to do that. Part of living in a "free" society is understanding that there's a good and a bad side to that freedom, and you can't just pick and choose the good parts without accepting the less-than-ideal consequences.

Re:What's wrong with patents (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289427)

Part of living in a "free" society is understanding that there's a good and a bad side to that freedom, and you can't just pick and choose the good parts without accepting the less-than-ideal consequences.
So let me get this. You just defended patents, and now praise "'free' society" for being the ability to be as greedy as you want? Free society would be that "'information wants to be free' approach" you derided. Sounds like you are a little too current-day-centered on your view of freedom.

Re:What's wrong with patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289271)

I don't know what you think you know about this, but it's wrong. Back when the patent was still in effect (early 90s), I talked to Mr Best about licensing (for saunas). The licensing fees were reasonable and not cost prohibitive for a mid range consumer grill. However, the nature of the converter (it's fragile and expensive to make; at the time 2-3x the cost of a mid range grill) would have made it impractical and cost prohibitive for a backyard grill. With improvements in nano technology, etc, the price of ceramics have come down a lot in the past few years while the durability has improved. That's what made it cost effective, not the loss of patent protection.

Re:What's wrong with patents (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289347)

Why would anyone in his right mind pay for simple and obvious 'inventions' that are based on ancient bronze age technology? So manufacturers just ignore the things and wait for stupid patents to expire.

Cooks by infrared? (1)

Temtongkek (975742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288973)

...oh shit. Well, I guess as long as you're not in a jungle... with a team of commandos led by Arnold Schwarzenegger.... with a creature from another planet running around... ...wait. It's getting very hot this year...

Ummmm... (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289019)

And unlike charcoal, which can require 20 to 30 minutes to reach its 700-degree cooking temperature, heat from the infrared burners can be adjusted quickly.
I guess he's never used charcoal fluid--a LOT of charcoal fluid.

FWWWWEEEEFH

Radiant heat cooking absolutely rules!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289171)

Oh $DEITY, don't get me started on radiant heat cooking. It is ABSOLUTELY SUPERB!!!

I've been cooking via radiant heat for a long time now, and the meat comes out completely differently. The problem with your traditional gas grill is that it dries out the meat. Usually the top is off, which contributes significantly to the drying out. A metal top helps a little, but that's still not enough. True radiant heat cooking (from ALL sides, not just the bottom) makes the meat just taste different, in a way that you just can't get anywhere else. The meat also turns out much juicier, since the water isn't lost.

I brine a turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and when I take the bird off the BBQ and cut into it, the water literally gushes out. You have to see it to believe it.

Here's what I've been using: www.kamado.com [kamado.com]

In short, that's 450 lbs of clay, and the clay allows the heat to reflect back, heating it from all sides.

What will really be interesting is if someone can do it more evenly than that.

In short, you haven't lived until you've had something cooked this way.

I have no association with kamado.com other than as an extremely satisfied customer.

Nice tech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19289475)

But I think I'll stick with my grill. I bought an old oil barrel, cleaned and seasoned it, cut it in half, mounted some piano hinges to connect the halves, and welded on a chimney on one and legs on the other... Total cost $25 for a very nice grill...

And my smoker? Two trashcans, a chip box, and a hotplate. Total cost $12 for a very nice smoker...

Now I think of it, there is a fine line between us cheap grill nerds and poor rednecks...

A good technology (1)

schultz830 (1107949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289797)

I will admit, nothing beats a charcoal grill; however, an infrared grill is hands down the best way to grill red meat without the hour backyad ordeal. The high temperatures sear the meat and cook straight through for a 'hot' vs. luke warm medium rare steak. You have to learn how to grill again though, use a lot less dry rubs, etc. The grills also do a good job of keeping themselves clean and preventing flairup. Unfortunately a lot of BBQ companies have simply removed U shaped burners from their grills and replaced them with ceramic burners. If this burner is not positioned at an ideal level away from the food a dry outcome is the result. I have used many grills from TEC to Viking and have found that Solaire (Solaire Grills [solairegrills.com] ) obtains a great result, I think they actually formed from pieces of TEC engineers; and they make a great portable grill for tailgating, camping, etc. The technology has actually found a lot of uses in the restraurant business in the form of salimander buners. Most steak houses use this technology. As an added benefit, I have found that the infrared burner is great at starting the lump charcoal I use in my Primo (Kamado style BBQ) as well.
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