Every once in a while, we see a really interesting and otherwise solid innovation that is just packaged in such a ridiculously clunky package that we couldn't imagine ever using it. That is what I'm thinking with this here Automatic Chef camping grill.
Now, don't get me wrong; the idea behind it is great. Camping is supposed to be about relaxing under wide-open skies interrupted only by a thin layer of mesh and a lush, tree canopy. It's about smelling the fresh air, stretching out with loved ones by the fire and taking a moment to just enjoy the simplicities of life. And yet, if you spend the entire time obsessively tending the fire; chopping firewood; building, adjusting and readjusting tents and equipment; preparing food and cooking; cleaning up the campsite; hitching your food and valuables into a tree to protect from bear attacks and then packing it all up a day or two later, that relaxation is completely lost.
So the Automatic Chef takes away the need to nervously pull the top off the grill, move and flip your burgers and constantly tend to your food. It spins your food around the open fire, providing a uniform sear on your meat. Sounds great, right?
But then you just look at this intimidating hunk of metal and think: "Can't they do that with something smaller and more simple?" And the quick-and-dirty answer is: yes, yes they can.
On the plus side, the Automatic Chef does break down into a carrying case, so you don't have to carry the entire flag pole and bucket to and from your car.
If you like the idea of cooking your meat on a construction-site crane, you can order the Automatic Chef for $140.