If you have ever been exposed a wild fire, firefighters will tell you that one of the key elements to watch for is the direction and predictability of the wind, being able to control the flow of air when it comes to controlling fire is something that cannot be stressed enough. Scale that down to a grilling situation and use that same logic to your advantage.
There are 3 basic elements required to have a flame; a combustible element(aka fuel), heat and oxygen. When you are trying to ignite your embers, the ability to introduce more oxygen through more airflow could be the difference between a struggling ignition and a successful fire, which leads me to talk about the equipment to get it done.
There are a few essentials when you work with charcoal to cook. Over the years I have noticed that among my go to tools, I have a basic of 4 pieces of equipment:
1.The grill (of course)
2. A fire pit, or somewhere to continuously get fire going
3. A shovel to move the hot embers from the fire pit to the grill, and lastly,
4. A poke to manipulate the embers once they are on the grill.
Out of all the tools that I use to grill, there are a few that I switch to on an off, and this one, is the one I use the most, the Firedragon blow poke.
When I first started grilling, I would just use a long dry branch that would continue to consume as I used it. As continued to learn, I discovered the basic fire poke (that is used for fireplaces), fast forward 10+ years. I was at one of Alex Jermasek's pop ups in LA area (Alex is on of the operators of Logmelah) where his set up was pretty much a mirror of mine except for one small detail. His poke had a feature I had never seen before. It had a hole at the poke end, and a mouth piece on the other. You can blow into the fire at a distance without having to put your face close to the fire. Something very useful if you want to avoid the potential risk of any sparkles jumping at your face.
When I saw this, my mind was blown 🤯
Here's a piece produced by PBS where you can see it being used (00:37)
Who would think that a simple (and ingenious) tool could bring so much joy?
Ever since then, I got myself one and have been using it every time I grill. Out of the tools that I take on all my catering jobs, this is the first tool that I pack. Having the ability to introduce a current of air with pin point accuracy with reach is such a useful tool to have at your disposal when you grill with charcoal. I would definitely say it was a game changer on how I approached grilling at the time.
For someone who handles only 2 tools to grill (a shovel and a blow poke) this was a huge leap forward.
I think this is a tool that everyone who grills should have. I have 2.
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