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A New Way to Grill

Sometimes, inspiration can be found in the most obvious of places. For Davis Knox, it came with a cup of coffee.

By Johnathan McGinty | Photos by Hero Grill

From grilling planks to custom seasonings, Davis Knox and his wife, acclaimed cookbook author Gena Knox, have poured their passions into building Fire & Flavor, an Athens-based company specializing in grilling products with a mission of making cooking simple, healthy and flavorful.

When Knox began to ponder ways for Fire & Flavor to create its own grill, he turned to the ingenuity driving the success of Keurig Coffee.

Keurig revolutionized the coffee industry through the creation of single-serve pods of coffee, simplifying the ease of use and meshing it with a level of portion control. People didn’t have to worry about a half of a pot of coffee going unused as they were able to prepare individual cups to suit their particular needs on a given day.

Knox knew if that simplicity could be transferred to outdoor cooking, he’d have something special on his hands.

“That led us to this whole idea of creating a cartridge concept for a grill that made it easier to use and more portable so you could go beyond the patio,” Knox said. “Now you could take the grill out on a canoe or other places you might not ever grill. It got me excited because I began thinking how this could truly bridge my passions for the outdoors with Gena’s passions for food and family.”

The premise is stunningly simple but remarkably efficient. The HERO Grill, which was released last December, includes the first dishwasher-safe grill grate on the market, a waterproof case, a thermometer, and a bamboo spatula and cutting board. It’s fueled by a patented charcoal pod system that is hot and ready to grill in 10 minutes and offers nearly an hour of cooking time.

“It’s really fire in a box,” Knox said.

The pods come in a corrugated box with an insulating layer of perlite, the white substance commonly found in bags of potting soil. The charcoal itself sits atop the perlite, and it doesn’t use any petroleum products to spur its ignition. As a result, it yields a virtually smoke-free fire that is eco-friendly. In fact, after extinguishing the hot coals with water, the remaining contents of the box can be put into a composting bin.

The price point also makes it an intriguing option for aspiring grillers. While the grill market has exploded in the past decade, many of the newer charcoal-based grills and smokers can cost $800 or more. At $140 for the initial kit, with refills of the charcoal pods available for $10 each, the HERO Grill offers a cost-conscious option that not only appeals to more households, but also offers a level of functionality and portability those more high-priced grills lack.

This enables the grill to travel practically anywhere, from a camping trip to a college football tailgate. This flexibility also makes it a desirable grilling alternative for people who live in crowded urban areas with less storage options and little outdoor space.

“We were thinking, ‘How can we get more people into grilling by making it easier not only to use, but also to clean up and store?’” Knox said. “The grill is lightweight, easy to clean, and it folds up to the size of a laptop. It’ll fit anywhere like a cookie sheet in your cupboard. Why leave your grill out on the patio to rust and get nasty? Why not make a rust-proof grill that goes easily from the outdoors to storage indoors?”

By facilitating an easier cooking experience, Knox hopes the HERO Grill will get more families engaged in sharing a meal together.

“The whole genesis of the company was about getting people into cooking,” Knox said. “Gena and I have a family of six, and we’re big fans of sitting down to a meal every single day. We’ve always wanted Fire & Flavor to help encourage people to do just that”.