Our Story: KAB Founder Chad’s Interview with Blind Grilling
We’re excited to have the opportunity to share Chad’s interview with Chris Peltz at Blind Grilling. Chad, the founder of Kick Ash Basket, and Chris have been grilling buddies for quite some time, working together to make grilling safe, fun, and accessible for all.
In case you don’t have time to listen to the full interview right now, we’ve summed it up for you below. It’s an awesome conversation between two interesting and experienced grillers that you won’t want to miss, so be sure to check out what these two masters had to say.
How did Kick Ash Basket get started?
In the interview, Chris asked Chad, “What were you thinking when you created the Kick Ash Basket?”
Chad’s background is in mechanical engineering. When he was young, he was always hanging around the shop with his dad trying to fix things. He says he was “raised always trying to make things better.” In 2010, Chad got his first grill. He was trying to grill pizza, which requires high grilling temperatures, but he couldn’t get his charcoal grill above 300 degrees. He called up his friend at the grill shop, and his friend asked if he’d cleaned the charcoal. Nope, Chad hadn’t cleaned it— because it was just too much of a hassle.
Check out how to properly clean a charcoal grill.
Chad began looking for a basket that would sift out the ashes easily, safely, and cleanly, so that he could better-control the temperature of the grill (without all that annoying cleanup). He figured someone was making a product like that, but he soon found there were only DIY options. That was the “aha moment” where he realized there was a valuable product missing from the market.
Chad and his dad worked together to weld the first charcoal grill basket using expanded metal and coat hangers for handles: “It was ugly, but it worked!” That’s where it all started. Chad’s friends started getting Eggs and ceramic grills, and they all wanted a basket, too. He made about 10 more DIY baskets before he decided to do something with it formally. In 2013, Chad began creating and manufacturing this new innovative product for the market.
Chad’s first grill was a Grill Dome, similar in size to the Big Green Egg. After doing some research, he found that BGE had the largest market out there, so that’s where he started his own product’s journey. As we now know, he definitely didn’t stop there! Kick Ash Baskets have been continuing to make products for different grills with different uses to make every griller’s life that much easier. We were especially thrilled to hear that Chris’s own grilling experience was radically improved by all the KAB products!
What is the goal of KAB?
Kick Ash Basket’s goal is to inspire people to get outside and grill for their family. Our slogan is “shake that ash, light that fire” because we want to encourage people to get out there and do stuff. We know that it’s frustrating to cook and clean a typical charcoal grill, so our products simplify that. Our customers say that since purchasing the Kick Ash Basket, they have been grilling a lot more frequently!
We want to thank you all, especially Chris, for your support as we strive to provide people with the freedom and happiness that comes with grilling for their family and friends. Chad and Tracy love thinking about the ripple effect of all the lives touched with “just a basket,” and it truly is an honor and a blessing to be able to serve the grilling community in this way.
On the Blind Grillin’ podcast, Chris tells an awesome story that gave Chad chills to hear. Chris says he had a blind friend who had a metal grill. Chris was working with Chad to find the right basket for his friend’s grill. Chad made adjustments to a Kick Ash Basket they already offered so it would fit in this particular grill. Chris’s friend said the basket made life so much simpler and healthier for him and his mom.
Chris said, “That’s the kind of company you are. Chad was willing to make it work. You have awesome products, but you work hard to make the service even better.” Our partnership with Chris and Blind Grillin’ is powerful; we’re working together to impact lives by spreading the word about grilling and by donating products to the Blind Grillin’ nonprofit.
What KAB products do you recommend?
Chad says he hasn’t used the original cast iron grate in his grill since 2010. Once he took it out and created his basket, he never turned back. The Kick Ash Basket offers better, more-consistent airflow, which in turn allows for better and more-consistent temperature control. Chad is proud to say that he can do a 20-hour pork cook at 235 degrees with just one load of charcoal, thanks to the ease of this basket. In 2017, the basket became stainless steel for less thermal expansion. This allows for improved temperature maintenance, which in turn means an even more enhanced cook.
Kick Ash Basket also offers the Kick Ash Can, which makes cleanup even easier. The can sits in the bottom of the grill under the Kick Ash Basket to catch all the ash, so you can just lift and dump. We created the Kick Ash Can because, well, why half-ash it? It’s a simple solution to shake the ash right out and keep on grilling.
During the interview, Chris from Blind Grillin’ flattered us when he said that some of our other products are the best he’s ever used. He uses the heat resistant gloves in particular to stay safe when grilling, and KAB also offers charcoal prep gloves to keep your hands clean while handling charcoal. Chris is also a big fan of the grill torch to make lighting the grill a lot easier by eliminating the guessing game that usually comes with lighting.
Has business been affected by COVID-19?
Chris asked a question that’s on every business owner’s mind: how has COVID-19 and the economy shut-down impacted business? We at Kick Ash Basket are thankful that people are still grilling from home and that customers can shop for our products online. Plus, a lot of our retailers that sell our products are hardware stores, which have been allowed to stay open during the shutdowns. We’re grateful that in this day and age we’ve been able to keep our business strong, especially with a lot of direct-to-consumer sales.
We believe business has been able to stay strong for two primary reasons. First, many restaurants shut down and people started cooking at home more frequently. They also had more time to learn new and healthier cooking methods, like grilling. We love that more and more people are getting into the grill-mindset to provide delicious meals for their families!
Second, Kick Ash Basket prides itself on our personalized customer service. If someone reaches out to us, we will answer 100% of the time. Whether they have a question or comment about the product, are looking for a new recipe, or just want to chat about grilling, our team is always stoked to get mail (even emails).
Got any good grilling tips?
The charcoal is going to burn down during the cook, so overfill the basket before you start. Learn more about natural charcoal here.
We close the top burner to less than one-quarter of an inch, which helps maintain heat and airflow for a clean cook that hums along.
Old charcoal doesn’t spark as much as new charcoal (in our experience).
Use starter sticks with the grill torch if you’re feeling intimidated by flying embers.
Use Kick Ash Basket dividers for smaller loads of charcoal and/or for two-cook zones, like direct and indirect cooking.
Learn the basics of grilling with some good tips from Weber.
What does the future of the brand look like?
From the beginning, Kick Ash Basket believed in brand growth that is “low and slow.” We are all about reinvesting into new products and innovations, especially as our customers come to us with ideas for what they’d like to see. We’ve invested in marketing to help reach a wider audience, and we’re constantly on the lookout for the next thing in grilling. Currently, we’re throwing around the idea of cast-iron or cleaning accessories.
Chad also loves mountain biking, especially since it offers the opportunity to have time with his family and with nature. There may be a Kick Ash sister business hitting the town soon, so keep an eye out for that!
Chad always believes in doing what makes you happy. “Follow your passions, man, and look what’s happened,” he said to Chris. Kick Ash Basket has touched a lot of lives with “a silly basket.” We are especially proud that Chris said the basket and dividers have made grilling easier for both visually-impaired and sighted folks, because we’re always striving to make grilling simple, easy, and fun for everyone.
Thanks for having us, Blind Grillin’!
We were thrilled to be invited on one of our favorite grilling shows for this interview. Thanks to Chris and the team at Blind Grillin’ for always making us feel welcome!
Check out Chad and Chris chatting on the podcast here if you’re interested in hearing about some great grilling competitions, how the KAB products work, and some laughs along the way.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Kick Ash Baskets to join the grilling community we’ve built! We look forward to chatting with you.