Introduction to the Komodo Kamado
July 21, 2011
Well known for their ability to retain heat and moisture, Kamado style ceramic grills are becoming increasingly popular among backyard cook and seasoned grilling veterans. Today we’re sitting with Dennis Linkletter, owner and designer of Komodo Kamado cookers, to discuss what makes these units so special.
First of all, Dennis, how did you get involved with Komodo Kamado?
I learned that a very talented crew of artisans who had been manufacturing a ceramic grill in Surabaya, Indonesia had been abandoned when their ”morally ambiguous” boss was suddenly forced to leave the country.
After hearing this story, I checked the Internet and found that several companies were successfully selling Kamado style, egg-shaped grills and their customers were unusually passionate about them. I decided to build a grill that capitalized on their strengths and corrected their flaws. I adopted the talented and experienced crew and launched Komodo Kamado.
Tell us about the history of Kamado grilling? What makes the Komodo Kamado unique?
Kamado is a Japanese word for an earthenware cooking vessel. There are many Kamados on the market, Primo Kamado, Imperial Kamado, California Kamado, and the Big Green Egg is also a Kamado.
These other Kamados are basically glazed ceramic pots with hinged straps and airflow control components. They have a large firebox which protects the glazed outer body from the high temps of the charcoal, and primarily use powder painted carbon steel components and grills.
About 8 years ago, I started the Komodo Kamado project. We took the product in a radically new direction from the other companies by using the most durable materials for high temperature containment: refractory cements. We then took it one step further by adding two layers of insulation. Along with casting the straps into the body, making it self opening, using the finest methods of fabrication and using only 304 stainless steel put Komodo Kamado into a class of its own. It’s like comparing a Model T to a new luxury car in both performance and user experience.
What is the biggest advantage to using a ceramic grill?
If you can burn less fuel to maintain your cooking temperature, the reduced airflow retains the moisture in your meat over the many hours required for a low and slow cook. For comparison, the Komodo Kamado’s 16 lb bowl of Charcoal @ 235º will burn for 85 hours. Many metal grills need refueling every 4-5 hours; other ceramic grills about 24 hours.
What famous chefs currently use the Komodo Kamado?
The most famous of course would be Chris Lilly, and of course the most famous company would be Kingsford.
What’s the most unusual thing that’s ever been cooked on a Kamado?
Your readers really don’t want to know… but there have been rats, snakes and bugs in Thailand alone!
Is there a certain style of grilling in the US that works particularly well with the Kamado or a region where it’s particularly popular?
Using charcoal, whether you are grilling, baking pizza at high temps, doing low and slow cooks, or using our unique rotisserie option, Komodo matches or out performs the industry’s best in these different types of cooks. People who live in the extreme cold especially like the fact that you can easily do a low and slow cook when there is snow on the ground and get absolute temperature stability.
How are the setups different for indirect versus direct grilling?
In a Komodo there is a rack on the charcoal basket for the heat deflector…the drip pan sits on it. This creates a large shielded area for your indirect cooking. Grilling is done either on the beefy 3/8″ stainless lower grill which sits about 7-8″ above the charcoal basket or the main grill which sits 2.5″ below the lip.
Cooking capacity is a big concern when you have a lot of guests. How does the design of the Komodo Kamado tackle that?
Komodo Kamado has the largest standard total square inch (sq”) of grilling surface of any ceramic grill. The 23″ KK OTB has
• Main 375 sq”, plus
• Lower 329 sq”, plus
• Upper Sear 274 sq”,
• For a whopping total 978 sq”
The 23″ has three grates and four cooking positions, all 3/8″ – 304 stainless.
The lower grate sits about 7-8″ above charcoal basket and has an opening up front to add wood chunks mid-cook. It is 5″ below the main grate. The main grate sits 2.5″ below lip. The upper grate stands on 5″ tall legs. It can also be flipped over and set down on the firebox for high temp searing right down on the coals (2.5″ above the charcoal with a full basket).
Are there any particular recommendations for cleaning and maintenance, for keeping them looking and working like the backyard showpieces that they are?
The material used to attach and grout the tiles is an UV resistant industrial insulation, it is elastomeric, meaning it expands and contracts when the grill is heated. Designed for outdoor use it’s extremely durable but when you see the build quality of the Komodo you will probably want to use a cover to keep it factory fresh. A magic sponge cleans up the smoke off the tiles and a simple car wax makes it easy to hose the dust off the grill.
These things seem built to last. Do you see them being passed down for generations?
Absolutely! Chris Lilly said, ”Komodo Kamado is the best cooking, most efficient and aesthetically perfect outdoor cooker on the market. Ask your children what tile color they prefer…one day the Komodo Kamado will be theirs.”
They are absolutely over built. The refractory hot-face has a 2,200ºf service temperature rating. It has a whopping 82 lbs of Stainless steel and 3 cooking grates alone weight 42 lbs alone. The draft door frames and hinge assembly are CNC laser cut from brushed stainless and then CNC folded and TIG welded. They will not last any longer than other stainless components but they are the finest in terms of methods of construction and absolutely beautiful in the eyes of people in the know.
There’s a level of customization with these beauties. Just how individual can you get?
We are eager to make the grill match our customer’s dreams. Customers are welcome to send me their own tiles. We are currently building some Komodos with hand hammered copper jackets. They will really be pieces of art that can be used to make great Q. We were delighted to custom glazed the tiles and created CNC cut logos for the Kingsford Komodos.
What’s the most popular color?
There are two distinctive schools of thought when it comes to tile colors. Some folks want their grills to blend into their surroundings, others want them to look like a Fabergé egg and stand out. Favorite blend in colors would be the earthen toned, green and grey tiles. The vibrant blues and other contrasting colors ensure nobody misses the grill in your yard.
The sculptural design of the Komodo gives it the highest WAF (wife acceptance factor) in the industry. You would be surprised at how many wives support the purchase when they see the grill and want to avoid having a choo choo train looking grill in the back yard.
Where do you ship most of your grills?
The US is absolutely the largest market although I ship grills all over the world. Australia has become a strong market recently. Texas might be my best selling state.
How often do you use your own Kamado(s)? Do you grill all year round?
I generally cook twice a week. My excuse is that it’s work. I live in Bali, Indonesia so weather is not an issue.
What is your favorite recipe to cook on the Komodo Kamado?
If I really want to impress I cook ribs and start by slathering them with mustard before adding my rub. It transforms into a thick flavorful bark that nobody knows is mustard. It absorbs smoke and the pork’s fatty goodness, creating a magical chewy jacket.
Do you have any grilling tips to share?
For a handy solution to oil your grates, roll up a small airplane-type hand towel, secured with a cotton string. Store it in a small tupperware half full of oil.
Finally, any advice to our audience for using a Komodo Kamado grill?
Cooking is supposed to be fun. Don’t over think or worry too much about it…your grill will take care of the cooking. Just use fresh ingredients and you’ll get great results.