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Bobby Brennan Interview Telling How KJ Started and Hinting At Future Upgrade/Products


Daniel G
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Although not a KJ owner (yet) I've been curious about how Kamado Joe started and came across a recent interview with Bobby Brennan where shared the story. Also, thought you all might be interested in the future products/changes planned for 2018. After some major changes for the 2017 model I was pleasantly surprised to hear that 2018 could bring some bigger upgrades.

 

 

At about 6:45 in the video he mentions pain points that need to be addressed (I agree):

Too difficult to control temp

Too long to heat up

Too hard to clean

 

As far as addressing those pains, he mentions they have a way to light the grill in 3 minutes. 

 

Also, how to better control the temperature, he mentioned how great Traeger has done growing the pellet market and how they are discussing how to "traegerize" or "pelletize" the grill. Not sure if they taking about actually using pellets or just referring to the controlling aspect. Whatever they do, I'm excited to see what they come up with because a pellet grill's ability to set it and forget it has always been appealing to me.

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I get the impression it is about controlling temperature like Traeger, ie set temp and forget.   Example put vents to setting xyz for 325-350 etc.     Different setting for each range,   Myself I have log book for vent settings where I spent one weekend temperature mapping my Vision Classic B and Joe Jr.      I just refer to my log to confirm settings for temperature range I want, one Kamado within 100 F of desired temp I place vents in my range setting.  

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Thanks Daniel.

 

Never realized Bobby is a Dublin boy.  I always thought Bobby was a good old Southern Boy.  The company I used to work for before used to do business with Bobby when he worked for Siemens.   He's the one the management that made it so hard to sell onsite training to his division. 

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The #1, numero uno reason I did not go with a Traegar or even better yet a Yoder– which I think is the class act of the pellet grills– is the fact that I do not want an 'idiot proof' experience. Granted I am in the minority but, I still want to be a part of the cooking process, managing the fire at least to a small degree. If I didn't want that, I'd have purchased any number of Flamebosses, Tappacues, Mavericks, etc. I am a techy to the bone. But, When I cook, I want to move away from the computers, iphones and ipads and just well, it's about a boy and his fire... (oh, and a big hunk of flesh). I have cooked once on a pellet grill. It was a totally unremarkable, unmemorable experience. There was nothing about it that I want to replicate. I hold to the premise that: All BBQ Comp Teams That Use Pellet Grills Are Cheaters!!! lol...

 

Anyway, the moment the KJ becomes another glorified oven- turn a knob and it'll hold 325°- is the day they ensure I move on to another brand.

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19 hours ago, Daniel G said:

At about 6:45 in the video he mentions pain points that need to be addressed (I agree):

Too difficult to control temp

Too long to heat up

Too hard to clean

 

As far as addressing those pains, he mentions they have a way to light the grill in 3 minutes. 

 

 

Controlling temps isn't that hard unless you are fighting weather (wind mostly)

Time to heat up is a function of thermal mass, not much they can do without changing the fundamental construction of the grill (like a steel Kamado)

Day to day cleaning isn't difficult, but a deep clean (pulling everything out) can be a hassle because of weight. The new firebox design appears to address this to some degree by making the parts a more manageable size

 

A propane torch will get your lump lit in less than three minutes, but you're still looking at a long heat up if you want all the advantages of a ceramic cooker.

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1 hour ago, Kamado Al said:

The #1, numero uno reason I did not go with a Traegar or even better yet a Yoder– which I think is the class act of the pellet grills– is the fact that I do not want an 'idiot proof' experience. Granted I am in the minority but, I still want to be a part of the cooking process, managing the fire at least to a small degree. If I didn't want that, I'd have purchased any number of Flamebosses, Tappacues, Mavericks, etc. I am a techy to the bone. But, When I cook, I want to move away from the computers, iphones and ipads and just well, it's about a boy and his fire... (oh, and a big hunk of flesh). I have cooked once on a pellet grill. It was a totally unremarkable, unmemorable experience. There was nothing about it that I want to replicate. I hold to the premise that: All BBQ Comp Teams That Use Pellet Grills Are Cheaters!!! lol...

 

Anyway, the moment the KJ becomes another glorified oven- turn a knob and it'll hold 325°- is the day they ensure I move on to another brand.

 

I think Bobby intends to cater to both audiences.  He probably planning accessories for the mass market that wants instant gratification.  He's right.

 

Bobby is also keenly aware of the desires of the Kamado faithful.  Don't expect the whole line to change.  Expect different products for different target audiences.

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A few years back they had pictures of what was essentially a damper and fan combo that one could use or not. by using it you got essentially a grill that you could light and walk away from.

I do think that Bobby is right that a lot of people see charcoal as messy and difficult to control.The removable ash tray already makes ash removal easy. If there were an easy way to light the lump and walk away knowing that it would always be at temp when you come back---it would appeal to a lot of people just starting.

 

One extreme over the top possibility would be a gas probe insert to light things and then remove. Then go to a controller. I doubt that is where he is going but...

 

IMO not so much need to anyone that has used their Kamado for even a little while.However it is making the sale and getting people into an awesome cooking method that they will love--that point of sale is critical.

 

As for me--I light wait 5 to six minutes with a kick ash basket, close the dome and set my vent. It always locks close to the temp i want. One more adjustment and BAM. Never any worries about hitting or maintaining temp. That is the norm for all seasoned Kamado users.

 

Having a built in control system would be great for windy conditions making it easy to hit and hold temp in windy parts of the country.

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I know this may sound like heresy, but I could see him coming up with 1 of 2 or both as extra lines for those out there (and there are a lot) that think charcoal is a pain.

1. Install a pellet fed heating source. This helps give some smoke to the cook but I don't think enough unless you buy the super premium pellets that may not be available locally which limits the # of folks you can sell to. Yes I know you can order it and get it but if the idea is to get lots of folks that don't want the mess of charcoal they may also not want the hassle of ordering pellets.

 

2. Dare I say it, a "gasser". This would allow quick heating, constant temp, but would require pellet tubes / troughs for the smoke. This would make getting fuel extremely easy and it would open the market to the masses that currently use gassers that hate the fact they spend anywhere from $250 -$1000+ and it rusts out and needs replaced in 5 years or so. Clean up would be a breeze cause the only clean up would be from the small amt of pellets.

 

Not sure if this is what Bobby is thinking but it could be. Not sure how the food taste would compare but if Bobby doesn't do it I could see someone doing it in the future because of the vast # of gassers out there and dare I say it, the push for everything being green.

 

Just my $0.02

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4 hours ago, smoker08 said:

I know this may sound like heresy, but I could see him coming up with 1 of 2 or both as extra lines for those out there (and there are a lot) that think charcoal is a pain.

1. Install a pellet fed heating source. This helps give some smoke to the cook but I don't think enough unless you buy the super premium pellets that may not be available locally which limits the # of folks you can sell to. Yes I know you can order it and get it but if the idea is to get lots of folks that don't want the mess of charcoal they may also not want the hassle of ordering pellets.

 

2. Dare I say it, a "gasser". This would allow quick heating, constant temp, but would require pellet tubes / troughs for the smoke. This would make getting fuel extremely easy and it would open the market to the masses that currently use gassers that hate the fact they spend anywhere from $250 -$1000+ and it rusts out and needs replaced in 5 years or so. Clean up would be a breeze cause the only clean up would be from the small amt of pellets.

 

Not sure if this is what Bobby is thinking but it could be. Not sure how the food taste would compare but if Bobby doesn't do it I could see someone doing it in the future because of the vast # of gassers out there and dare I say it, the push for everything being green.

 

Just my $0.02

 

I think you're overthinking and over analyzing.  Bobby is guy with an engineering background who led large project teams at Siemens. 

 

KJ will always focus on simple, clean and well thought out designs vs elaborate over complicated designs.

 

Changing the KJ from lump doesn't make any sense in any solution.  

 

Pellet grills don't heat up in 3 minutes.  It takes 10-20 minutes for most pellet grills to heat-up depending on the target temp.  

 

Most gassers take 10-20 minutes to stablely heat up for steaks.

 

I would assume KJ has a new gadget based on a thermal technology we're not considering.

 

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"Too difficult to control temp."

What?!

I switched to kamados from kettles because they're way easier to control temp. The kicker was when I burnt through most of a bag of lump cooking a Christmas turkey on my kettle....and I loved my kettles.

Sent from my SM-G900W8 using Tapatalk

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8 hours ago, smoker08 said:

I know this may sound like heresy, but I could see him coming up with 1 of 2 or both as extra lines for those out there (and there are a lot) that think charcoal is a pain.

1. Install a pellet fed heating source. This helps give some smoke to the cook but I don't think enough unless you buy the super premium pellets that may not be available locally which limits the # of folks you can sell to. Yes I know you can order it and get it but if the idea is to get lots of folks that don't want the mess of charcoal they may also not want the hassle of ordering pellets.

 

2. Dare I say it, a "gasser". This would allow quick heating, constant temp, but would require pellet tubes / troughs for the smoke. This would make getting fuel extremely easy and it would open the market to the masses that currently use gassers that hate the fact they spend anywhere from $250 -$1000+ and it rusts out and needs replaced in 5 years or so. Clean up would be a breeze cause the only clean up would be from the small amt of pellets.

 

Not sure if this is what Bobby is thinking but it could be. Not sure how the food taste would compare but if Bobby doesn't do it I could see someone doing it in the future because of the vast # of gassers out there and dare I say it, the push for everything being green.

 

Just my $0.02

 

Not sure that it is still on the market but the Black Olive pellet Kamdo is ---was ??a pellet Kamado. I could have had one for $500. I just did not see any reason.

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34 minutes ago, dsarcher said:

I do like a more traditional kamado to cook on, but got to say that I like my maverick to be able to watch the temps from within my kitchen.

 

I am not anti technology in cooking. I am anti technology for me- at least for now. That said, if i somehow muff up a couple of briskets due to temp drops / spikes or some other unforseen issue, I didn't catch because I grabbed a nap, I'm going to find a way to protect the investment I have in the meat...

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@Marty - last I heard the Black Olive was still out there.  However, it met with such bad reviews that there are very few sitting on patios.  The Black Olive is a hybrid that very few want.  

 

Pellet poppers do indeed take about 15 - 20 minutes to heat up.  There are some inherent limitations ... pellet poppers generally can't get above 450° - 500° F.  That single limitation kills the deal if you're looking to cook pizza as many Gurus are want to do.  

 

Komodo Kamado has a gas burner option that can be employed.  It has not been a big seller as I remember.  Some have used the gas burner as a starter for the charcoal.  I don't think very many people use gas as the primary fuel source for long cooks.  

 

Given the initial price points of top end kamados, I don't see many customers wanting to pay more for pellets or gas.  Just my $0.02 worth and we know what that's worth.

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