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The Kitchen Cabinet

Portable Grill Gets Rid of the Drudgery

July 23, 1987|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

Do the rewards of camping or picnicking merit the hassles involved in planning and lugging a bundle of food and gear? For the adventurous, this is where the fun starts.

But for those who would prefer eating in a restaurant or fast-food place rather than pack for a picnic, the food basket and all its paraphernalia seem to weigh a ton. And you begin to wonder--why don't they make coolers with wheels?

To top it all, there's the grill.

If you've left this heavyweight monster greasy and soiled from the last trip, can you bear taking it? And don't even think of the cleanup and return trip, or you'll never take off. You could opt for a barbecue in a public park. But can you deal with the dirty grill bars there that are laden with grease and old flavors from other people's food?

Some High-Tech Magic

"Whenever people leave home, everybody leaves with a cooler, and if they're going to barbecue, taking the grill is always a premeditated decision," said Paul W. Hait, who invented the Pyromid outdoor cooking system, a high-tech portable grill stove that collapses into a flat eight-inch square pad. "Our patented pyramid-shaped system is scientifically engineered to cook more efficiently than others. It takes less than half the time for it to get to a 500-degree temperature and it uses only 10 charcoal briquettes."

America's Freedom Grill (from $49.95), Pyromid's all-stainless-steel folding portable barbecue that comes tidily packed in a tote bag or in a modern plastic black brief case, is literally the neatest thing for new-wave camping, canoeing, horseback trips, boating, tail-gate partying or backpacking. Hait stresses that the product is environmentally sensitive. The Pyromid disposable FoilLite (you can substitute heavy foil) lines the insides of the inverted pyramid part. This holds the charcoal, which after grilling can be neatly dumped, eliminating any mess of ash, embers and grease as well as the worst of the grill cleanup.

Lighting the fire is fast and simple, every barbecuer's dream. There is no need to use a volatile liquid starter with the Pyromid grill, which uses a small starter fuel tablet called Pyrolite, which can be ordered separately.

The most important question is: Can a small grill such as this perform? We were thrilled to find that it was quite efficient for steaks, chops, burgers and frankfurters. Two of our favorites are kebabs and sates, which cooked in no time. We also liked the fact that small shrimp, scallops, mushrooms and cut-up vegetables didn't fall through the patented Heatstor grill, which is designed with little round slots instead of bars.

Adaptations of Unique Design

The inverted pyramid and heat-reflective surfaces have made Pyromid heat- and fuel-efficient. A collapsible hood lets you bake, smoke or shield the food from wind and rain. Pyromid's unique shape has been adapted to many portable stove and oven models.

The basic concept came to Hait, a mechanical engineering graduate from Stanford University, while on a deer-hunting trip about seven years ago. Challenged by fuel shortage under poor weather conditions, he built a wind-resistant pyramidal gadget to conserve and concentrate heat. Persistence in refining the grill and obtaining nine patents for it is evidence of the sporty spirit of Hait, who won a Gold Medal and broke the current world record in the breast stroke at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

The grill is excellent for tail-gate picnics, according to Hait. He is excited that the grill has been officially recommended by the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland A's for tail-gate barbecues.

America's Freedom Grill is available in three series, 8-, 12- and 18-inch square sizes. Other models available from Pyromid range from a pocket stove that collapses to a 5x4x1-inch package to the large Tomahawk Lodge Stove, which collapses to a 24x13x4-inch package. Aside from charcoal, other forms of fuel such as Sterno or mesquite, alder and hickory woods, or even plain old twigs can be used.

The Pyromid is available at the Village Kitchen Shop in Glendora, selected Gelson's markets, Barbecues Galore in Tarzana, Torrance and Sante Fe Springs, Esprit de Cuisine in Pasadena, Kitchen Emporium in Del Amo Mall in Torrance and Kitchen Corner in La Canada. For more information and to place orders, call (800) 824-4288.

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