Famous for their state-of-the-art hybrid fire grills, pizza ovens and outdoor kitchens, Kalamazoo sets a high bar when it comes to entertaining and cooking at home. Combining craftsmanship and sleek designs, the company brings today’s backyard barbecues to a whole new level.
Founded in 1906 as the Kalamazoo Sheet Metal Company in Michigan, the firm’s roots began in custom fabrications for architectural installations and manufacturing equipment, producing dairy and pharmaceutical processing pieces. Their team excelled in creating flawless, airtight welds where no bacteria could grow using weather-proof stainless steel fabrication. That same commitment to quality introduced the company’s first barbecue grills in the late 1990s, including their innovative hybrid grill which is powered by any combination of charcoal, wood and gas. “By 2005, the Kalamazoo Grill was re-branded since our business was evolving to create complete outdoor kitchens with a full suite of outdoor cooking and entertaining products. Today our product list is extensive; for example, we have 40 different refrigerator SKUs,” said Russ Faulk, Chief Product Designer for Kalamazoo.
The company’s best seller is the medium-sized built-in Hybrid Grill for outdoor kitchens. This is serious grill master territory, fashioned from 450 pounds of steel and cast-bronze and priced at $19,000. “It’s built like a tank, but it’s a pretty tank,” Faulk noted with a laugh. “All our products are hand-built to order; they ship from Michigan to homes around the world,” Faulk said. Homeowners can find Kalamazoo products in a number of showrooms across North America, and their expert design team works with clients directly from the sketching phase to the final order, regardless of the purchase channel. This bespoke approach distinguishes the company as a leader in the outdoor kitchen category.
“We design, engineer and build all our products to a high standard,” Faulk stressed. The adjustable heat settings are ideal whether you require intense searing or low and slow cooking. Burners are cast from bronze on the Hybrid Fire Grill to deliver a dramatic range of temperatures varying from 225 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
Faulk observed that the overall trend during the pandemic has been focused on home improvement projects, especially outdoor living which has been a leading movement for the last five years. “As we’ve seen in the AIA home design trends survey, the outdoor living category even outpaced home offices during the pandemic,” he noted.
Kalamazoo invented their first countertop Artisan Fire Pizza Oven in 2006 and it continues to be a top seller. Available in a wall or countertop version, Faulk calls it “the Ferrari of pizza ovens; it can cook a Neapolitan style pizza in 2 ½ minutes.” With its top and bottom radiant heat-style system, the pizza oven also does a great job of roasting meats and vegetables as well as cedar plank cooking fish or preparing steaks in a cast iron grill placed inside the oven.
The Shokunin Kamado Grill (Shokunin is the Japanese word for artisan) was inspired by the grills that World War II servicemen brought home from Japan when they converted them from traditional charcoal-fired rice cookers into grills. While the traditional Asian Kamado grills use ceramic construction, the Kalamazoo version tucks two inches of glass fiber insulation between two layers of stainless steel for an efficient cooker that offers flexibility. The vertical nature of the Shokunin Kamado Grill’s elongated body contains a three-level fire grate system suitable for smoking, roasting or searing.
Outdoor kitchens from Kalamazoo are amazingly detailed with many of the same design elements used indoors, Faulk said. “We have a pull-out waste/recycling cabinet, 12-inch pull out racks to hold oversized grill tongs and brushes, two and three-drawer storage cabinet units and even glass door refrigerators.” The Signature Series offers stainless steel cabinetry that works with many different design aesthetics, and the Arcadia Series has a decidedly more designer look that leans toward transitional and contemporary schemes, Faulk said, using Ipé wood or powder coated steel panels in subtle or vibrant colors. Both collections feature cabinetry and integrated refrigeration, meaning their appearance matches the cabinetry in each series. “Outdoor kitchens are almost always smaller in scale than indoor kitchens, but they end up with more detailed features like a keg tap, which you probably would not have in your indoor kitchen.” The modular style of these kitchens presents hundreds of different configurations for a custom look.
The popularity of outdoor kitchens is not lost on Faulk who enjoys cooking in his own outdoor space at home. “We love to see outdoor kitchens become a primary kitchen for the home. Outdoor cooking takes the drudgery out of preparing meals because it’s more fun to cook outside. You can replicate restaurant-style cooking at home due to heat regulation, smoke management and the use of wood or charcoal to add different flavors to your food.”
Once the kitchen is conceptualized, laid out and installed with the help of Kalamazoo’s design team, the company’s cookbook, aptly named “Food and Fire,” provides over 400 pages of inspirational recipes that can be produced on their impressive line of grills.
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