About this project
Announcing Stretch Goals for the Searzall!
Hello backers and potential backers,
We have some stretch goals to sweeten the pot:
If we can raise $200,000 then all backers who get a Searzall will automatically receive a spare parts kit! The spare-parts kit will include an extra thumb screw and three extra-bezel screws (in case you unscrew and drop them), and an extra set of screens.We don't think your Searzall screens are going to break --ours don't-- but they are replaceable should they ever warp too much under years of use.
If we can raise $300,000 then all backers that gave $55 and up will get a Searzall recipe book and those who already receive a recipe book will be upgraded to an exclusive, Kickstarter-only, extended recipe book.
If we can raise $400,000 then we will unlock the ability to add the Searzall clamp to your reward. Backers at the 55 and 65 dollar level will be able to get the clamp by increasing their pledge by $20. Backers at the $90 level and above will get the clamp automatically.
The reason we only support 16.4 ounce camping bottles of propane is because it is the most stable small cylinder you can buy. We have designed a patent-pending clamp that can stabilize any cylinder --in fact any round thing-- between the size of an Iwatani butane can and a 16.4 ounce propane cylinder. Our motto is: if it is round, it won't fall down! Not only will this stabilize your torch, it will stabilize your wine bottle on a boat or picnic --it will even stabilize your champagne glass if that is what you need. The picture below shows a prototype we had made in SLS nylon. The real version will be slightly different --the feet won't be big and goofy-- but the pictures are a pretty close representation of what you can expect. We intend to have it injection molded out of glass-filled nylon, but the materials are still open to a bit of debate. The reason we didn't offer the clamp from the beginning is we didn't want to take on the problem of making the Searzall and the clamp at the same time. If we reach a goal of $400,000, we will be making enough Searzalls that we'll have the resources to also take on the clamp simultaneously. We will finish the prototyping and get production molds made so that the clamps will ship on time with the Searzalls.
Also, here's a look at what the Searzall shirt might look like:
WHAT IS IT?
Torches are great for soldering, but are problematic in the kitchen. They give food a fuel-like off-flavor known as torch-taste. The Searzall eliminates torch-taste by forcing the torch’s flame through two layers of fine, heatproof alloy mesh converting the majority of the flame to infra-red, radiant heat –a cook’s best friend. Now you can have high-quality finish for sous-vide and low temperature meats and other foods without the unsavory aromas typically associated with a blowtorch and without breaking the bank for large and expensive pieces of professional cooking equipment.
WHY IS IT NECESSARY?
The backbone of the modern culinary revolution is sous-vide and low temperature cooking. By using very accurate cooking equipment like the immersion circulator you can now cook a product all the way through with flawless consistency. The problem is, sous-vide leaves the surface of food pale and crustless. Professional chefs have long known that the best way to get a really good crusty-cooked surface on a piece of succulent sous-vide meat is by using fire –very hot fire. Unfortunately, that sort of heat isn’t available to most people –especially at home. Booker and Dax founder Dave Arnold thought long and hard about this problem during the years he spent teaching sous-vide and low-temperature cooking to thousands of students at the French Culinary Institute. The Searzall was his answer. While sous-vide / low temperature cooking was the original impetus for Dave's invention, it's not the only reason to use one. The Searzall's power is instant and portable. Carry it to a picnic, a catering event, or your mom’s house at the holidays and be searing in seconds. Whether you are cooking a fish at the beach, toasting the cheese on a burger at a cookout, fixing up the holiday roast, or finishing off that 6 hour sous-vide rib-steak, the Searzall will be your buddy.
Anyone who's used a torch in the kitchen is familiar with the unpleasant phenomenon of torch taste. Torch taste is bad. For years we assumed that torch taste was caused by the fuel itself –by propane and butane and the chemicals added to them. Not true. Tests run for us at UC Davis indicate that torch taste is caused by the creation of new, unpleasant, chemical compounds on the food when the heat is too high. We did a chemical analysis of food cooked with a naked torch and with a Searzall, and found that the Searzall did, in fact, eliminate torch-taste (see chart below). We also did a lot of taste tests which showed the same result.
The flame from a regular blowtorch is designed for soldering and welding, and its intense, focused heat can be far too aggressive for food. Even in the hands of the most experienced cooks, the torch is notorious for charring food in some spots while leaving other underdone. With the Searzall, the temperature is high enough to create a great sear, but it's more even and more controlled. The heat is spread out and softened, and the results are predictable and delicious.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Searzall is a patent pending cone-shaped metal chamber that sits in front of the flame of a torch. The torch flame passes through the cone and hits a layer of super-high temperature alloy mesh that spreads out the flame and converts some of it to infra-red radiant heat. A second layer of high temperature mesh evens the heat out and produces the characteristic burning orange eye of the Searzall. The interior of the cone is lined with high-temperature light-weight ceramic insulation and more mesh. The insulation capture the heat that would be radiated towards your hand and re-radiates it out the front of the cone, increasing efficiency and your comfort. The result: a hand-held radiant broiler. Because the Searzall is made of lightweight materials, it heats up very quickly, and it doesn’t stay hot too long. Around the outside of the Searzall is a wire safety cage that prevents the hot cone from touching you or catching your counter on fire if you drop it.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH IT?
Here are just a few of the foods we've cooked with the Searzall:
- reheating pizza
- foie gras
- grilled cheese
- whatever else you got
Whether you're finishing plates at a catering event or making a quick, alfresco lunch, the Searzall's power and portability make it the ideal finishing tool.
- SEARZALL VERSUS THE COMPETITION
- Naked Torch: The naked torch is no good for meats or breads, cheese, or most foods with fats. We still use a naked torch for crème brûlée.
- Electric Heat Gun: The heat gun does not produce a torch taste, but has a lot less power than the Searzall and is tethered to an electrical outlet.
- Pan: Professional restaurant ranges have burners that burn in excess of 30,000 Btu's per hour of gas. These burners can adequately sear meat in a pan. A range will also allow you to cook much more product and doesn't need the constant attention that a Searzall requires. Unfortunately, panned meat tastes different from broiled meat. Even restaurant ranges are not as good as a Searzall for applications like foie gras, and a pan can't toast cheese. Pans on home burners can never match the Searzall.
- Broiler: Broilers can cook a lot more product at once than a Searzall can, but home broilers have inadequate power for cooking fish and finishing low temperature and sous-vide meats. Home broilers are good for melting cheese, but the Searzall is often more convenient. Restaurant Salamanders have adequate power for most applications except finishing sous-vide and low temperature meats, but are not portable and are expensive. Commercial Deck broilers are awesome, but most people don't have access to one.
Today, there are a couple of dozen prototype Searzalls, made by the three of us. We've loaned those prototypes to chefs and power users including:
- David Chang and his team at Momofuku
- Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 and Alder
- Nathan Myhrvold and the Modernist Gang
- Paul Adams Online and Food Editor from Popular Science
- Nils Noren from Red Rooster
- Mark Ladner from Del Posto
- Michael Natkin, popular vegetarian cookbook author
- Daisuke Nakazawa of Nakazawa Sushi
- Micheal Anthony of Gramercy Tavern
The feedback from these testers and others was essential in shaping the product, determining its strengths and weaknesses, and helping us improve.
Our prototypes work very well, but we need to finalize the design for production. Twenty beta testers (you could be one!) will help us pin down the finishing touches and secure safety underwriting, after which manufacturing will begin.The finished Searzall will arrive in your hands in June 2014.
WHAT'S MY CONTRIBUTION PAYING FOR?
We have invested thousands of dollars and thousands of hours creating the Searzall. We've been making them by hand in the Booker and Dax basement in NYC, using repurposed pieces of steel cocktail shakers and old broilers. We burned through hundreds of mesh samples made from ten different heat-resistant alloys before settling on a material, more commonly used inside jet engines, that can withstand extreme heat over prolonged use.
After a lot of research, we've located the factories that can meet our standards. To get the production line moving we must make a big investment in tooling, die-making, and travel. The $80,000 from Kickstarter will make this possible.
Q: Will it work on my existing torch?
A: We strongly recommend the Bernz-O-Matic TS8000 for maximum output. It provides 14,282 Btu per hour (with propane). The Searzall also fits the TS4000. We don't recommend it for Iwatani butane torches yet - we are working on a specialized tank clamp to provide the required stability.
Q: What kind of fuel tanks should I use?
A: We only recommend using 16.4 ounce camping tanks of propane. Thinner cylinders are not stable enough.
Q: How long will the Searzall run on a tank of propane?
A: With the recommended Bernz-O-Matic TS8000 the Searzall will run for an hour and 45 minutes on a 16.4 ounce tank. That is a lot of toasted cheese.
Q: Is it dangerous?
A: Kitchen equipment is inherently dangerous. Knives are sharp; torches are hot. The Searzall has safety features built in to mitigate potential injuries, but it uses a very hot flame -- so use common sense.
Q: How long does the Searzall take to cook something?
A: That depends. We usually sear steaks from 1-2 minutes per side. Foie gras is done in under 30 seconds per side. Bread toasts in 30 seconds or less. The Searzall's heat is powerful,but its cone is small. You won't use it to sear 50 steaks at once, but you'll love it for two or three at a time. We have put out a plated dinner for twelve using 2 Searzalls (double fisting).
Q: How do I assemble the Searzall?
A: Watch this simple how-to video!
Q: How long does it take after you turn on the torch for the Searzall to be ready to sear?
A: A couple seconds. Here is a video:
Q. What about the Iwatani Torch, can you please support it?
A. We would love to, but the Iwatani has several features that make it very difficult for us to support. Look at the picture below:
The Searzall cone was, in fact, designed to fit the Iwatani, and as you can see in the upper-right inset, the Searzall runs on the Iwatani like a champ. Now the problems. The torches we recommend have triggers that control both the gas and the ignitor. Press button: get fire. Release button: turn off fire. On the Iwatani you have to turn on the gas (A) then pull the trigger (B) to ignite. When you release the trigger, the flame persists till you turn off the gas valve. This is not ideal for Searzall use. More alarming:
- The Iwatani fastens to the butane bottle via a quarter turn adapter (D) with no lock. We don't like that
- The air intake adjust (C) is very easy to accidentally mis-adjust
- The piezo ignitor (E) is exposed at the end of the flame tube and tends to melt when using the Searzall making it necessary to light the Iwatani with a second flame source
- Even not attached to a Searzall the end of the flame tube tends to cherry up (G). This is exacerbated by the Searzall. The Iwatani also has flamelets that come of the end of the flame tube (H) that tend to lap on the back of the Searzall cone. To fix this we'd have to enlarge the inlet hole, which would increase backwards radiation (I), furthering the problem of melting the ignitor.
In short, we can fix the quarter turn fastener problem, but we could only support the Iwatani by telling you we are going to ruin the piezo ignitor, and we aren't willing to do that.
Q: Can you show us a video of searing something from start-to-finish?
A: Sure! Check out our video!
Q: What are the performance differences of the Searzall when used with different torches and gasses? Will it work on my torch with my gas?
A: We have made a video comparing searing a raw hamburger with the Bernzomatic TS4000 and TS8000 using both propane and MAP//Pro (propylene, real MAPP no longer available) and, for reference, the Iwatani running on butane. Everything was seared "to eye" just as you would do it at home. Interestingly, the Map//pro provided very little speed advantage on the TS8000, but a significant advantage on the TS4000.
We will post a list of all torches we have specifically investigated. For us to officially support a particular torch, we would need to test it. In general, torches need to meet some fundamental requirements:
- Have an equivalent power between the Bernzomatic TS4000 and TS8000 (Btu's don't really tell the story, but for some idea, the TS8000 burns 14282 Btu's of propane per hour, the TS4000 burns 6732 Btu's of propane according to Bernzomatic) and an equivalent flame shape.
- Combination trigger gas valve and ignition.
- Nozzle diameter between 0.625 inches (15.9mm) and 0.610 inches (15.5mm) at the point of clamping (smaller sizes could possibly be adapted) OR between 0.872 inches (22.15mm) and 0.856 inches (21.75mm) at point of clamping.
- Minimum clampable nozzle length measured from end of nozzle: 1.73 inches (44mm).
- Operate properly at an angle that places the Searzall screen parallel to a horizontal surface.
- Be stable
Q: How fast does the Searzall cool down?
A: Our friend Paul took some infra-red photos of the Searzall as it cooled off over the course of 7 minutes. How to read the photo:
- The numerical degree shown in each thumbnail is taken where the cross-hairs are and corresponds to the interior screen area of the Searzall. Not a place you will touch.
- Paul's camera maxes out at 270C, that is why the first photos say 270. The front end of a running Searzall is considerably hotter than that.
- Notice that the safety cage --the part that you would touch-- is safe within about minute --the inner cone a couple minutes later. The interior stays hot about 3 minutes, and warm about 7 minutes.
- If you get a lot of flame lapping on your Searzall when doing fatty foods like steaks, your initial outer cone temperature will be higher than shown, but the cage will cool down just as quickly. That is why the cage is only wire --lighter weight cools quicker and burns less if touched when hot.
Q: Will the Searzall finish chicken cooked low-temperature?
A: It sure can. Check out this video:
We circulated the chicken breast at 63 degrees Celcius for one hour then removed it from the bag, patted it dry, brushed it with oil, sprinkled with salt and seared.
The Searzall needs to be held slightly farther away from the chicken breast than a steak because the skin is more delicate and will burn.
DAVE, basically he's spent his whole life gearing up just to bring you the Searzall.
NASTASSIA has worked with Dave for four years, starting at the FCI, and helped him start Booker and Dax in May 2011. "I just make sure everything runs smoothly."
PIPER started with Dave as an intern at FCI, then worked at WD-50 and food ingredient manufacturer CPKelco, before coming on full-time to manage the Booker and Dax lab in October 2012. "I make the Searzalls, I test the Searzalls, I cook the meat."
Risks and challenges
The Searzall is a product that is designed to withstand and contain intense heat yet be lightweight. The mesh that we use is operating at the very limit possible with high-temperature metallurgy. We have been testing many different versions of similar alloys and have found one that can take it. There is always a possibility that our manufacturer can mess up a run of mesh. Such an occurrence would not be insurmountable, but would set us back. Additionally, there is the hurdle of independent lab testing to jump over. It is not completely clear how that process will go because labs can only be approached to test finished production products. We have tried to minimize this potential problem by not manufacturing the torch itself. By only manufacturing an attachment for a torch, a lot of the testing necessary for a product that deals with flames is obviated.
Ensuring that the Searzall is manufactured with safety and reliability in mind is paramount. Proper inspection and testing will take place before the Searzall is ready for commercial sales. While unlikely, some unforeseen safety issues could arise on inspection that could set back our schedule. We will not release a product we would not sell to our families.
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