Maybe you’re extremely particular about how your steak is cooked. Maybe you’re a vegetarian who can’t stand the thought of your tofu dog touching even a microscopic charred speck of meat left behind on the grill surface. Maybe you actually just love the idea of every guest at a cookout getting to grill their own food at once, cutting down the cooking time and making BBQ an even more social experience. Why entrust your meal to a designated grillmaster when you could have total control over your own burgers and kebabs?
That’s the idea behind the Jag Grill, a communal grill table with built-in grilling stations for six to eight people.
The Jag Grill comes in two models: the Jag Six and the Jag Eight. The six-seater is more portable, with a single hexagon-shaped removable grill top and six individual bamboo tables facing it. The whole thing is collapsible and lightweight, so you can easily pack it up and take it on the road or store it during the off-season.
The Jag Eight is bigger and sturdier. Not only does it feature an octagonal ‘grill dome,’ which elevates a communal grilling surface above the level of the table, but also it offers eight individual grilling racks so that each guest has his own park grill-sized surface for his food.
The dome can also be lifted to add more coals during grilling. Side door access on both models makes it easy to sweep out the charcoal or wood chips when the BBQ is over.
You can also take out the central rack in both tables and transform the grill into a fire pit, perfect for roasting marshmallows or just relaxing. The legs are individually adjustable up to three inches, so you can tailor it to the height of your existing patio chairs or make it level on an uneven surface.
It’s a novel idea, and definitely changes the dynamics of a backyard barbecue, making the process a little more egalitarian. It also solves the problem of an inexperienced cook failing to pace the food properly, which leads to some guests eating immediately while others stand around longingly sniffing at the meat-scented air.
But there are a few downsides, too: there’s a lot more surface area to clean. You’re going to need six to eight times the BBQ tools. You’ll go through charcoal briquettes a lot faster and everybody’s going to be dodging the smoke as the wind shifts. Not to mention sitting so close to a flaming-hot metal object in the heat of the summer.
Whether or not this table appeals to you may depend upon your grilling style and the expectations you set for guests before they arrive. The responsibility of producing the party’s food shifts from the host to the guests, enabling you to socialize more, but you might want to warn everyone that they’ll be responsible for grilling their own food, and step in to help anyone who hasn’t gone through Grilling 101.
The JagGrill doesn’t come cheap, with the smaller version selling for $1,599, and the Jag Eight bearing a hefty price tag of $2,499. Would you be willing to drop that kind of cash on this multi-functional backyard centerpiece?