For Eggheads, Grilling is a Way of Life
Thu July 9, 2009
By Katie Hawkins-Gaar
(CNN) -- The average temperature in Bloomington, Minnesota, in January was 6.4 degrees Fahrenheit. But that didn't stop Adam Frey from grilling outdoors and burning through 80 pounds of charcoal during the month. Frey received a Big Green Egg -- a ceramic cooker that serves as a smoker, grill and oven -- for Christmas last year. Since then, he has devotedly grilled six or seven days a week. "Extreme cold isn't an issue as long as you dress warm," Frey said. "I have and will continue to cook out every day if possible."
The oval-shaped grill has amassed a cult-like following since it was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1974. Fans of the grill call themselves "Eggheads".
Frey began grilling more than 20 years ago but got his first Egg in 2008. "It changed everything," he said. He now owns two Eggs and calls himself a "grill junkie." "When you find yourself waking up, thinking about what you're going to grill that night, you're pretty addicted," Frey said.
With a hefty price tag and weight -- some Eggs cost up to $900 and weigh more than 200 pounds -- the uninitiated may question whether the cookers are worth it. Eggheads, though, are quick to spread the gospel. Frey, who shared his story on iReport.com as part of CNN's "grill masters" assignment, wasn't the only one to express devotion to the ceramic cooker. Other iReporters shared photos, videos and stories about their egg-centricity.
"I am an Egghead. They should pay me, because I constantly encourage people to buy one," joked Brad Cates.
Cates, an insurance and financial consultant in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, raves about the ease of heat control and versatility of his Egg. Fueled by charcoal, the Big Green Egg can reach up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit to sear a steak within minutes or cook a slow and low brisket for hours.share this page
"It is better than any other grill or smoker I've had," Cates said. "I've had numerous gas grills, and there is absolutely no comparison there."
Cates tends to "cook in spurts," firing up the grill for two or three days some weeks. Ribs, covered in his secret homemade rub, are his specialty. "I try to do at least three racks at a time, and they are gone within minutes," he said.
Thanks to Cates' enthusiasm, co-worker John Lindsey decided to purchase a Big Green Egg. Now he, too, raves about it.
"The grill is like no other," Lindsey boasted. "I have owned all types of grills, from the tiny charcoal grill to the giant stainless steel gas grills. But the BGE is by far my favorite."
Lindsey, 34, grills three or four times a week. His specialty is "pork in general"; baby back ribs, pork tenderloin and pulled pork are some of his favorite dishes. He owns an XL Egg, which, according to the manufacturer, can cook 24 burgers, 12 steaks or 11 whole chickens at a time.
More than a million Eggs have been sold since the company began, spokeswoman Donna Myers said. "Word of mouth literally made the Egg what it is today," Myers said. She noted that BGE founder Ed Fisher began the company with little advertising revenue.
"For many years, these devoted Eggheads became the company's primary sales force," Myers said. Perhaps the biggest Eggheads in the iReport community are Leroy and Judy McMillin of Spring, Texas. The couple owns three Eggs and built an outdoor kitchen to house them.
"I think it's easy to see that we love our Eggs," Leroy McMillin said.
McMillin bought his first Egg, which he calls Lily, in 1999. He has two smaller versions -- named Shirley and Maggie -- that he purchased in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
His three ovoid "girls" are housed in their own hand-built outdoor kitchen called "The Coop," complete with a sink, mini refrigerator, countless chicken decorations and a red light to indicate when the grills are in use. McMillin and his wife keep the chicken/egg theme going by referring to themselves as "Spring Chicken" and "Spring Hen."
McMillin, 68, is retired and considers himself one of the elder Egg enthusiasts.
"There are a few Eggheads older than me and a whole bunch younger than me," he said. "I envy their enthusiasm and creativity. They seem to want to take 'Egg'n' to the next level."
The McMillins recently attended a nearby Big Green Egg demonstration and cookout. Leroy, wearing his "I'm an Egghead" shirt, proselytized to potential buyers.
"We just wanted to pass on to any prospective Eggheads how enjoyable cooking on the Egg can be," McMillin explained. In fact, he says, many friends have purchased their own green grill, thanks to his encouragement.
The couple is headed to Atlanta in October for the annual EGGtoberfest, an annual event where more than 1,000 Eggheads converge to share recipes, meet fellow fanatics and purchase additional Eggs.
McMillin says he enjoys both barbecuing and grilling and uses his Eggs, on average, six times a week. His wife, Judy, joins in the action, too.
"We both enjoy the 'Eggsperience' together," McMillin said. "Cooking hasn't been a chore since we got our first Egg."
Courtesy of www.cnn.com