Where there’s smoke, there should be fire, contends Ben Eisendrath, the DC-based CEO of Grillworks. His company’s stainless-steel grills let backyard barbecuers and professional chefs cook over a live fire—and, he says, gas and charcoal counterparts don’t hold a candle to the results. “The only ‘grilled flavor’ you’ll get from propane or natural gas,” he argues, “is delivered by the juices flaring off the burners.”
Coveted by chefs, Grillworks’ professional models fuel local restaurant kitchens of José Andrés, Bryan Voltaggio, and Cathal Armstrong, among others. International clients hail from as far away as Paris, Seoul, Johannesburg, and Dubai.
Ben’s father, Charles Eisendrath, launched Grillworks in 1975, almost by accident. A correspondent for Time, Charles was based in Buenos Aires when he fell in love with Argentina’s grilling tradition. Later in the U.S., he invented his own grill to recreate the parrilla experience—and orders soon followed. When Charles decided to shutter the business in 2005, Ben, a former AOL exec, stepped in. Today, the younger Eisendrath says, “I collect crazy ideas, then drive my build team in Michigan bonkers until they become reality.”
Ben can often be found firing up three Grillworks standbys behind his 1910 Adams Morgan home. “Live-fire cooking requires full attention and mastery,” he says. There’s a primordial aspect to it, he adds. “After all, fire is what brought us.” grillworks.com