Sensor-loaded Argentine BBQ makes backyard grilling smarter and more precise
An Austrian company seasoned with Latin American spice, Vaustil has melded old-school cooking techniques with new technology to make a smarter grill. The Argentine-style Primero Smart grill puts fiery coals below your meat and adds a multi-zone sensor system for tracking temperature all over your cooking area. The adjustable-height grate, flare-resistant grill design and integrated charcoal starter help you cook your meal to perfection every time.
Vaustil co-founder Juan de Rosenzweig first experienced Argentine grilling as a child in Mexico. Unhappy with the retail grills available, his father built and tweaked his own Argentine-style grill. The family grilled regularly, and building and selling grills even became a business.
Juan moved to Austria and fell in love with the country but found one thing missing: the Argentine grilling he had come to love. So after years of only daydreaming about those luscious, smoke-infused meals, he assembled a team and designed a modern interpretation of the Argentine grill.
Vaustil's grill rethink starts before you even load up the charcoal. Those who are serious about charcoal grilling will tell you that lighter fluid should be nothing more than a distant memory from a less informed time. It's all about the chimney/charcoal starter, which lets you light up your charcoal in a more natural way – no acrid fuels involved. Usually that's handled outside the grill with an accessory starter, but Vaustil makes it more seamless by integrating the charcoal starter into the grill itself.
All you have to do is load up the charcoal basket with coals or briquettes, slide out the ignition chamber, light the fire starter and slide the chamber back into the grill under the coals. Twenty minutes or so later, you'll have hot, smoldering coals ready to cook.
Like other Argentine grills, the Primero Smart grill features a crank-adjustable cooking grate that you can move up away from the heat or down closer to it. Instead of using a big wagon-wheel crank common on those other grills, Vaustil has integrated the crank neatly into the grill chassis for a low-profile look.
If you're an experienced grill master with a sixth sense for cooking heat, you might be able to expertly raise and lower the 23 x 14-in (58 x 36-cm) stainless steel cooking grate for cooking perfection. If you're a bit less seasoned, you might appreciate some help, which is why Vaustil has integrated seven heat sensors and a height sensor into its smart grill, creating a seven-zone heat map. The sensors work in conjunction with an iOS/Android smartphone app, making it easy to track changes in heat and adjust food accordingly.
The sensor system relies on Bluetooth 4.2 communications and a rechargeable 1,800-mAh battery pack. Vaustil estimates battery life at 20 hours, and the pack removes for easy USB charging.
As seen on other Argentine grills, Vaustil's V-shaped grill bar design diverts liquids released from the food away from the hot coals, preventing flare-ups and charred food. The grill can reach temperatures up to 840º F (450º C), and the aluminum and stainless steel chassis is designed to remain isolated from the heat, preventing burns.
Vaustil is hosting a Kickstarter now to raise money for production costs. It is offering the Primero Smart at pledge levels of €1,090 (approx. US$1,335) and up. For those that prefer to identify their own hot and cool spots for a more natural grilling experience, the standard Primero (no heat sensor tech) is on offer at pledge levels of €890 ($1,090) and up. Vaustil has already surpassed its goal, and if things continue moving along as planned, it will begin deliveries in June.
Watch the video for a closer look at the Primero in action (after some oddball footage of hand-sledding the grill up into the snowy mountains).