Monday, June 13, 2011

GrillGrates: Open Letter to Brad Barrett

Dear Brad,

It seems I owe you an apology. I was wrong. (dammit)

Last year when I first saw GrillGrates on a website, I was skeptical. My view was
  • they were for people who can't control their grill and always burn things
  • they were useless to people who can manage fire
  • that goofy looking spatula is just a gimmick
Then I met you at the Eggtoberfest last year and we talked about them while he made a grilled pizza. I told you my point of view (for people who can't grill) and that GrillGrates didn't do anything my Craycort cast iron grates could do. It was a very pleasant exchange and you challenged me to try them side by side but I didn't take you up on your offer.

Then at Kingsford University this Spring, Chris Lilly used them during the National Pork Board's demonstration. Yes, the several time Memphis in May winner (including 2011) used them and I was still stubborn.

Chris Lilly cooking at Kingsford U 2011.
The students of Kingsford University received a free set of Grill Grates but mine sat in a corner for another month or so. Then I finally broke them out.

So what are GrillGrates?
You've probably noticed these weird things in some of my posts over the past two months. They are a set of 1 or more plates that lock together and can fit on just about any type of grill, gas or coal. They fit right on top of your existing grates. They are multipurpose; they create beautiful sear marks, make cooking delicate items easy, and prevent greasy flare ups.

I made this graphic for you!  (Kidding, stole it from their site.)

Here's a picture of mine before I got them all dirty and greasy seasoned them.

Any audiophile or computer geek looked at that and said that they look just like a heat sink. That's pretty much what they are – a heat capacitor. It absorbs heat and then doles it out evenly.

I still stand by my first assertion, that these are for people who can't control their fire.
The design has the grease drip down into the valleys of the rails where they sizzle away. Normally, they grease would fall to the flames causing flare ups that burn your burgers and chicken. If you have problems grilling, I think these would help you immensely.

I was wrong that these are useless to someone who knows how to grill.
I thought I would use them once and put them away. But I use them about once or twice a week. I always use them for burgers because they make flipping them so easy (see next section). GrillGrates work amazingly for delicate fish. I find it easier to grill chicken breasts on them without drying them out. They are also great for pork chops. They rock for making quesadillas and pizzas on the grill too.

Let's talk sear marks. I can get great sear marks on my cast iron grates but GrillGrates make flawless grill marks EASY. There are two schools of thought about the importance of grill marks. One says, “you can't taste a grill mark”. But the other side knows that you taste with your eyes first.

Remember this food porn?  Done on GrillGrates.

I was wrong about that “goofy looking spatula”.
Just like the GrillGrates, I use it way more than I thought it would. I even use it when I'm not using the GrillGrates. Have you ever gone to slide a spatula under a burger or piece of fish and instead of sliding under, it “pushes and smushes” the food? The angled finger like tips make it so easy to get under then lift the food. I really thought this was a dorky piece of equipment that was only even needed because of the GrillGrates. This is my favorite spatula now so I guess I am the dork!

Would I give up my Craycort cast iron grates for them? Heck no! I still use them in almost every single cook I do. But I am very glad to have GrillGrates in my grilling arsenal, especially when I'm cooking on some of my other grills that can't use Craycort grates.

I've used them about 17-18 times now and GrillGrates work as advertised*. If you scroll back through the past 2 months, you will see them pictured but not mentioned. I was testing them out to be sure they worked.

They would be a “grate” addition to anyone's grill or an excellent gift for Father's Day. I felt bad because I was posting this so close to Fathers Day but then I found out you can buy these at retail locations too. Check outtheir website for areas around you.

So Brad, you were right, I was wrong. I wonder how crow tastes on GrillGrates....


*Except for the “searing in juices” part. It has been proven that searing on any surface does not actually seal in juices but it does add to the dish.


  1. OK, you sold me - the part about the spatula smushing and pushing the food did me in. I make shrimp burgers that everyone in the family loves. Last time I cooked them, I cooked them on my Weber Performer instead of my Weber Q220 with the cast iron grates and the spatula indeed pushed and smushed the burgers - embarrassing since I had company over. I think that the Grill Grates will solve that problem once and for all.

  2. This is way above my knowledge but the "grill grates" look exactly like what came with our new grill as does the spatula.

  3. I love them too Chris! They work great for fish and other delicate items. :)

  4. I would totally benefit from these. My burgers always flare up. I blame it on my grill not the operator.{cough}

  5. You are probably one of the few men I know who is actually okay admitting you were wrong. I'm impressed, chris!

  6. What's that old saying about old dogs and new tricks?

  7. I think you need to add an 'xoxoxo'.

  8. You have showcased these briefly before and I have considered investing in them. After my "couldn't control the fire" episode over the weekend, maybe I need to stop considering and actually buy them!! lol

  9. OK! I'm sold! Bill's birthday is soon and this will be great for his grilling. I'm so glad you made a public apology to Brad so that we could all benefit from it. Sear marks: that's what makes grilled food so good to me even if you can't taste it! Thanks for the great review, Chris!

  10. OMG! You totally crack me up!!! As many times as I have been to your blog, this is the first I've noticed the header "cooks and kooks." Too funny! Way to go, Chris!

  11. These grates seem incredible!

  12. I love how you posted this as an open letter, Chris! I also love the line about crow on the grill grates! I am off to buy the grill grates...Happy Father's Day!

    Kim in MD

  13. Nice, Chris. Just another bit of proof that you are truly a class act. Will have to give these grates a try!

  14. Hey Chris
    I have been selling "Grillgrates for about 6 months now and my customers love them as much as I do. It's a real pleasure to see my old customers coming back with a smile on their faces asking for more "Grilgrates" cause now they want to give some to their friend/father/son or just more to fill up their grill. Thanks for the hard work and an awesome post.
    Gary's BBQ Supplies

  15. Chris your blog stands head and shoulders above the crowd! Thanks for being open minded about GrillGrates! GrillGrate, Eat Well!

  16. Thanks for the review. As I was considering full replacement for my Genesis grates, can you elaborate on when you like to use your cast iron? Thanks

  17. Thanks for the great review. As I was considering a full grate replacement for my Genesis, wondered if you could give more detail on when you prefer your cast iron. Thanks

  18. IqIndy - Great question.

    I like using the GrillGrates for strip steaks and fillets. I prefer using cast iron for ribeyes, I can't tell you why, it's just a preference. (For the record, I also don't like ribeyes reverse seared but I do for strips and fillet). For flank steaks, strip steaks, burgers, etc, it's a 50-50 split on whether I use GrillGrates or cast iron. For fish, I almost always use the GrillGrates.

    Overall, I use my cast iron grates as my everyday use grates. Even for cooks that don't need sear marks, I like the extra thermal buffer of the cast iron in there plus more frequent use is the best way to keep cast iron in shape.

  19. "I still stand by my first assertion, that these are for people who can't control their fire."

    I disagree with this statement. Because many of us use lump charcoal and lump has a unique shape and size, being able to control your fire temp does not always mean you can get an even fire across the grilling surface. I find the Grillgrates do a great job creating a more even grilling surface temp. Less moving food around and rotating the cooking grate to get even cooking. Less hot spots.


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