WonderWok ignites flame war with outdoor grills

The Premise. The wok is a versatile kitchen staple that has been around for thousands of years. Whether frying, steaming, boiling, or sautéing, the wok can do it all. But when it comes to outdoor cooking, most people turn to their grill or maybe a smoker. Traditional electric or gas stove tops just can’t get hot enough to set the wok a-rockin’.

The Product. The WonderWok is an outdoor grill that unleashes unbridled heat directly to a wok. The wok rests on top, allowing the chef to move it at will. It also comes with a grill and griddle attachment. The WonderWok’s base is silver while the wok and attachments are black. Installation involves simply hooking it up to a propane tank, much like a conventional grill.

The Pitch. The Indiegogo campaign chronicles how Gregory Wong dreamed the WonderWok into existence.  AnAsian cuisine chef with his own YouTube channel, Wong understood the need for something like the WonderWok on the mass market.  Where his campaign lacks is in explaining the product itself.  There are no pictures of the WonderWok in the campaign itself and only fleeting glimpses of its commercial kitchen-like design in the video. The same aversion to stills shows on the WonderWok’s Web site. Wong hopes to raise $100,000.

The Perks. Reward tier pricing may prevent the WonderWok from winning out versus conventional propane grills that can cost a few hundred dollars. Wong offers seven reward tiers that include variations of perks such as bamboo chopsticks, bumper stickers, recipes from his YouTube channel, baseball caps and the like. Only a contribution of $5,000 or more will earn a WonderWok with an estimated delivery date of April 2014.

The Potential. The WonderWok could represent a slice of stir-fried heaven for Asian cuisine chefs who want to expand into more outdoor events; it will be a harder sell for the average weekend backyard burger flipper. Beyond the huge price displarity, there are already several other less expensive alternatives such as Mr. B-B-Q Cast-Iron Wok is a heavy wok designed to sit directly on the grill. Eastman Outdoors sells a similar Outdoors Steel Wok Kit, that is essentially an outdoors grill with a wok on top, much like the WonderWok, just not quite as hot. With these alternatives, it may be difficult for Wong’s creation to find a steady role in the world of outdoor cooking, but professionals should be able to offer at least a wok-on role.

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