By Wendy Killeen GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
Grilling (especially for men) can be a competitive sport. Al Contarino, 45, of Boxford, is an example. When the inventor and grilling enthusiast realized that opening the grill lid releases heat and stalls cooking, he created his own design.
That led to KettlePizza (kettlepizza.com), a stainless steel insert that is placed between the rack and lid of a kettle grill, creating a cooking chamber that remains consistently and evenly hot. Perfect for (but not limited to) wood-fired pizza.
We talked with Contarino, president of the Groveland-based business, and George Peters, 58, of Haverhill, vice president.
Q. Why pizza?
Contarino: I researched it and knew cooking pizza on a grill was on the increase, but very challenging because you need consistent high heat.
Peters: Wood-fired ovens are very expensive and big. To have something to put on kettle grills, which are universal, gives everyone a chance to have a wood-fired grill.
Q. All wood?
Contarino: A combination of charcoal and wood.
Peters: The hardwoods like mesquite not only add a little flavor, they burn hotter and longer and that is how you want to cook pizza.
Q. Other uses?
Contarino:It’s an oven; you can cook almost anything. You can put in a skillet and bake bread and cookies.
Q. Sold as kits?
Contarino: People do need to put them together. It doesn’t require tools and takes about five minutes. We went through a lot of design work to make it easy to ship, put together, and use.
Peters: Users are mostly men from mid-20s to 60s. But, we get a lot of calls from women purchasing them for their husband or brother, etc. While the men use them, women like the idea that it is bringing people together to make healthy pizzas in a family setting.
Contarino: $150 to $300. And we are proud the kits are made in the United States.
Q. Growth of business?
Peters:We ship to consumers [through its website and others such as Amazon] in 52 countries and have dealers in eight countries. We are working on a global distribution system.
Peters:It is always summer someplace. And people have sent us pictures of them shoveling a path in the snow to get to their KettlePizza.
Contarino: Our biggest season is leading up to Father’s Day.
Wendy Killeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.