Charlie McKenna’s First Impression of the Shokunin Kamado
Grill Master Charlie McKenna Provides Expert Insight of Kalamazoo’s Shokunin Kamado Grill
The chef behind Lillie’s Q – one of Chicago’s hidden BBQ gems – gives his first impressions of the premier outdoor cooking manufacturer’s newest product
The excitement around the new Kalamazoo Shokunin Kamado Grill continues to spark attention in the grilling world. As the first grills arrive at their new homes, some of the country’s top grilling aficionados are getting their chance to see it in action.
Among them is barbeque expert and Chicago-based Chef Charlie McKenna.
Growing up in Greenville, S.C., McKenna is a barbecue world champion and is well-versed in the traditions of Southern-style BBQ. That knowledge and experience gets put on display daily at his Windy City restaurant Lillie’s Q – the pit master’s love letter to good flavors and great grilling.
It’s because of his background and intimate knowledge of barbeque that Chef McKenna was chosen as one of the first to cook on the Shokunin. So, what was his first impression of the grill?
“It’s amazing,” said McKenna, mincing no words when it came to his thoughts on the Shokunin. “The look of it is impressive and I’m blown away by how it holds heat incredibly well.”
The Shokunin celebrates traditional Kamado grilling aspects with the innovation and elevation synonymous with Kalamazoo. One area where that state-of-the-art approach is put on full display is the Shokunin’s adjustable fire grates allowing you to adjust the distance between food and fire.
“You’re given a ton of control over how heat and smoke move throughout the Shokunin which allows for precise control of the grill,” said McKenna. “This versatility puts me in a position to use the same grill to execute a wide-range of cooking techniques. You can grill hot fast. You can smoke slow. The grill is so versatile that the possibilities are really endless.”
Looking over the menu of Chef McKenna’s Lillie’s Q is a mouth-watering deep-dive through the traditions of American barbeque. Unsurprisingly enough, the pit-master was able to use the Shokunin to execute two of his restaurant's staple dishes -- wagyu ribeye cap and pimento cheese hot links. The results? Delicious.
“The grill has a higher price point, but as an item that’s going to live outside, it’s worth the investment,” said McKenna. “The attention to detail and craftsmanship that goes into a Kalamazoo Grill means you have a product that will last a lifetime.”
Asked if he had any final thoughts on the Shokunin, Chef McKenna provided a word of advice relevant to backyard grillers and Michelin Star chefs alike.
“If you’re someone that’s serious about grilling, you can’t go wrong with a Kalamazoo,” said McKenna. “The aesthetics draw the eye and the quality of the stainless steel is second-to-none. If you can fit it on the grill, you can smoke it or grill it.”