It’s summertime — and the grilling is easy with a nifty new gadget called The EZ Grill. An instant, disposable, barbecue grill, it is also — believe it or not — Earth-friendly and cheap.
Manufactured and distributed by Redmond’s Phillip and Tracy Swan and their business partner Mark Reynolds, the product has been featured on “NBC Today” and CBS News, where it was touted as an ingenious, grab-and-go accessory for an impromptu picnic or road trip.
Phillip had been working at Microsoft and while visiting family in the United Kingdom, had seen a similar product but wanted to give it a sustainable twist, not using charcoal or chemicals that ruin the taste of food and pollute the air.
“Rice husks and wheat husks are our carbon source,” he explained. They use cornstarch and mineral oil as their binder and ignition, whereas other quick-light barbecue products contain fillers such as borax, petroleum, sawdust and sulfur.
“We have a truly sustainable product that is made from recycled materials and is also 99 percent recyclable,” Tracy boasted. “Frankly, it has caused quite a stir as everyone we have sent them to, absolutely loves them.”
Just walking around with sample boxes grabs people’s attention, said the Swans. Whether they’re doing a demo at a grocery store or riding in an office building elevator, people have done double-takes and demanded, “Where can I get one of those?”
And it’s not just lazy or “grilling challenged” people who are intrigued. Chef Scott Lents of Kirkland’s Bin Vivant restaurant became a believer after trying out an EZ Grill on a KING 5 News segment.
Over and over, said Tracy, the reaction has been, “Oh my gosh, this actually works!”
Buyers don’t always pick up on the natural aspects of the product. Sometimes they’re merely looking for convenience — a way to grill without fuss or clean-up.
Women, who often don’t know how to use a conventional grill — or complain that the men in their lives commandeer the family grill — are snatching up EZ Grills because they’re easy to use. You can set the EZ Grill on top of your regular grill surface and light it with the touch of one match. And it burns without odor or toxic fumes.
“We call ourselves ‘granola nuts,’ we’re very much into the environment,” Phillip noted.
And Reynolds had a paper recycling business in the UK long before recycling became a familiar way of life, at least here in the Pacific Northwest.
Yet shoppers in other parts of the country don’t always care as much about protecting the environment.
Said Phillip, “Eighty-two percent of the U.S. public will only buy green if it delivers as well and doesn’t cost a penny more than other products.”
The EZ Grill’s popularity in the Winn-Dixie Supermarket chain, based in Jacksonville, Fla., bears that out. The regular size EZ Grill costs $4.99 and the party size is $9.99 — price points which fit a conservative household budget or that of a church or school hosting a potluck dinner.
“We’re making barbecue fun again,” Phillip concluded.
“And the product is great for the ‘Staycation’ trend,” Reynolds added.
But they also can see another market for the EZ Grill, in this region where power outages are a frequent fall or winter nuisance. Although they can’t be used indoors, stocking up on EZ Grills could save the day when the weather is miserable and you’re desperate for a hot meal.
EZ Grills are available at the Red Apple Market, 6625 132nd Ave. NE in Kirkland and are coming soon to all QFC and McLendon stores in and around Redmond. To order online, visit www.ezgrill.com.