Kalamazoo’s new kamado grill, the Shokunin, is getting early recognition for innovative features that set it apart from all other kamado grills. Gear Patrol’s Will Price notes that while most kamado grills are round, the Shokunin is rectangular, and “this gives it an upper-hand on its kamado competition for a very simple reason - inch for inch, rectangle grills have more grilling space than circular grills.” In a recent review, Uncrate notes that the Shokunin’s multi-tiered fire grate offers incredible cooking flexibility: “The bottom position is ideal for smoking, the middle for roasting, and the top lets it serve as a traditional charcoal grill, with its shape providing added cooking space and the ability to cook with an offset fire.” And in a round-up of “The Best Barbecue Smokers You Need to Finally Cook That Brisket This Summer,” Men’s Journal says that our forthcoming Shokunin is a “modern take on a kamado, a traditional Chinese or Indian earthenware oven…[and] the best on this page for grilling and smoking.”
Kalamazoo’s Shokunin grill is the first kamado grill to be made from 304-grade stainless steel rather than classic clay or ceramic materials. A clever double-layer design creates more efficient heat, uses less charcoal, and allows the Shokunin to reach temperatures as high as 1,200 °F while staying cool to the touch on the exterior.
Kamado-style grilling is more than 3,000 years old, so there has been plenty of opportunity for experimentation when it comes to grill form and function. Yet most kamado grills on the market are still similar in size, shape, and construction materials. Will Price asks whether Kalamazoo’s innovative Shokunin grill is better than a Big Green Egg. We think so; find out for yourself this summer, when the Shokunin becomes available for purchase.
Did This Grill Company Make a Better Big Green Egg?
Unveiled at this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas, Kalamazoo Gourmet’s latest grill — its first since 2014 — is a kamado.
Kamado grills are ancient Japanese cooking vessels fueled by charcoal or wood and made of natural materials like clay (ceramic tiling, concrete, brick and terra cotta all became popular later). The gist is fairly simple: kamado grills feature much higher levels of heat insulation and circulation than your everyday grill. Kalamazoo’s calls its take on the Kamado the Shokunin, and it’s a bit different than other kamados on the market — especially the ever-popular Big Green Egg.
Immediately noticeable is its shape — where traditional and modern kamado grills typically feature dome-shaped designs, the Shokunin’s frame looks like a typical, rectangular grill. This gives it an upper-hand on its kamado competition for a very simple reason — inch for inch, rectangle grills have more grilling space than circular grills. Plus, more space makes cooking over an off-set fire — a necessity when barbequing — a bit easier.
It’s also not made of clay, ceramics or any other traditional material. Instead, it’s made of 304-grade stainless steel, and a lot of it. Two inches of insulation separates the interior of the grill from the exterior. Kalamazoo says the insulation is so effective, it can build up to temperatures in the realm of 1,200 degrees while keeping the exterior cool to the touch.
It’s important to note that Kalamazoo’s grills are not for the budget-minded griller. These are pricey grills made with heavy-duty materials (this grill is 200 pounds). They’re meant for the person who isn’t a summer-only grillmaster.
Pricing information isn’t available yet for Kalamazoo’s Shokunin. The brand says it will be available this summer.
KALAMAZOO SHOKUNIN KAMADO GRILL
Traditionally crafted from ceramics in a rounded, egg-like shape, Kamado grills are outstanding for their heat retention and versatility. Kalamazoo's Shokunin takes these same traits but uses a rectangular design rendered in thick 304-grade stainless steel. With two inches of insulation, it can support internal temps up to 1,200º F while still remaining cool to the touch and offers a multi-tiered fire grate. The bottom position is ideal for smoking, the middle for roasting, and the top lets it serve as a traditional charcoal grill, with its shape providing added cooking space and the ability to cook with an offset fire. Far from a casual griller, it weighs over 200 pounds and is built by hand in Michigan.