By: Clint Cantwell
Part of the “Everdure Grills by Heston Blumenthal” collection of smokers and grills, the FORCE 2-Burner is a 48-inch propane gas grill that comes with a stand. For those unfamiliar with Blumenthal, he is a British celebrity chef whose modernist restaurant, The Fat Duck, took the top spot in the 2005 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and is one of only 5 UK restaurants with 3 Michelin stars.
But how did he make the transition from the kitchen to the backyard? Unveiled in late 2016, the Everdure collection features seven unique outdoor cookers and various accessories, all designed with input from Blumenthal.
In Blumenthal’s words, “Over 20 years I’ve learnt how to get the best out of ingredients. By incorporating some of my favourite techniques into these designs, I’ve created what some might call a 3 Michelin star barbeque range.”
So was the experiment successful? There is no arguing that the FORCE would look great on anyone’s back porch, deck, or balcony given its sleek design and the availability of 5 vibrant color options. Even your propane tank gets a stylish makeover with the addition of a removable black mesh bag. Beyond the aesthetics, though, the grill falls short in several areas, especially given its approximately $900 price tag.
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First the basics. The central grill unit is highlighted by a die-cast aluminum body that is designed to be durable and rust resistant. The body is approximately 24.5 inches wide by 17.5 inches deep for a total cooking surface of 388 square inches. There are also two aluminum side tables – the right side featuring the grill’s two control knobs and the left one which can fold down easily to create a smaller footprint for the grill.
Open the grill lid and you’ll find two removable cast iron cooking grates (referred to by Everdure as grill plates) which rest above the grill’s two rectangular 11,000 BTU propane burners. While many gas grills have flame tamers which sit just beneath the main cooking grate to help distribute heat and control flare-ups from dripping grease, the FORCE incorporates its solid rectangular tamers into the grill plates. By doing so, the manufacturer is able to bring the burners closer to the grates (2-inches from heat to grate), thus speeding up the time needed to heat the grates up to high temperatures (approximately 5 minutes).
I did have some difficulty lining up the grill plates.
Each plate is meant to sit on six tabs but they don’t always drop into place in the correct position, so they often sit off center. In the pictures here you can see how the left side of the plates does not sit on the tabs, thus leaving a large gap, while the right side is flush with the edge of the firebox.
Other FORCE highlights include tapered legs for stability; two wheels for easy movement of the grill; two spacious storage shelves beneath the grill unit; the previously mentioned collapsible left side table; and a removable grease/fat tray. The lid also includes a mounted thermometer, though as we note these can be highly inaccurate. We recommend using remote temperature probes to properly monitor surface temperatures in any grill. Learn more here about the importance of accurate thermometers and how to select them.
FORCE is also promoted as a 2-in-1 grill system, transforming from a freestanding to a tabletop grill by removing the main unit from the stand (more on this shortly). Dimensions of the grill on the stand are 48 inches wide with side shelves in place (approximately 38.5 inches wide with the left side table folded down), 20.4 inches deep, and 42 inches high. The grill comes with a kit for converting it from LP to natural gas. The manufacturer also offers several accessories for purchase on their website including flat griddle replacements for the grates, a warming rack, a roasting rack, and others.
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The primary grill chassis and hood come fully assembled, aside from needing to add the lid handle. Most of the assembly involves the cart. This includes attaching the legs to the stand top, adding the two plastic shelves, then attaching the chassis to the stand. While this should have been quite simple, the drawings of the parts in the instruction manual made it hard to differentiate between the different screws and washers so we found ourselves having to try a few to get the fit right. Plus, when different parts were put together the holes didn’t always line up properly so it often took a few tries to get the screws to take.
It is worth noting that a key selling point of this grill is the fact that the grill chassis (the main cooking unit with attached side shelves) can be removed from the stand to work alternatively as a portable tabletop grill. While the unit looks and cooks great off of the base, removing and reattaching it can be difficult due to the fact that the four screws that hold the unit in place on the stand are rather hard to line up (it took me several minutes and various curse words to get it lined up properly by myself). Further, there is no conversion kit for using smaller camping propane bottles, so if you are planning to travel with the grill unit for a cookout at the park, beach, or tailgating party, you must also transport a full sized (20 pound) propane tank. Keep in mind that the unit is quite wide with the side tables, only one of which folds down for transport.
Once the grill has been assembled, place the propane tank (with or without the removable bag) through the adjustable cylinder belt and rest it on the grill cart’s bottom shelf then tighten the strap to keep it in place. Attach the hose and regulator to the propane tank.
Lighting this grill is similar to many others. After attaching the propane tank and opening the valve, you open the grill lid, turn a control knob to the high setting, and then you should hear a “click” from the electric igniter as the burner ignites.
The grill also has a match holder (basically a wire grasping tool connected to a chain that is secured to the cart just above the propane tank) that can be used if the electric igniter doesn’t work. The user manual doesn’t actually include any instructions for safely lighting the grill with a match, and there’s no hole to insert the match, so I removed the right cooking plate in order to get the match close enough to the burner to light it. Once lit, you adjust the knobs to achieve your desired cooking temperature. As previously noted, the grill comes to full temperature in approximately 5 minutes.
Before cooking for the first time, I tested the grill’s temperature at various settings to ascertain just how flexible it is when cooking at different temperatures and with different heat configurations like for 2-zone cooking.
To test the approximate surface temperature of the grill grates, I attached six Fireboard ambient temperature probes to the grates with one in each corner and two in the center. I then lit the grill, turned both control knobs to low, and let it preheat for 10 minutes with the lid closed.
As you can see from the chart below, the temperatures across the grill surface varied widely. The two probes on the right side registered 446°F (temp 1, back right) and 449°F (temp 1 2, front right). Center right (temp 3) read 544.9°F and center left (temp 4) was 626.5°F, while front left (temp 5) was 452.9°F and back left (temp 6) was 479.4°F.
Next, I turned the control knobs to high and let the grill continue to heat for 5 minutes with the lid closed. On the high setting, temperatures across the grill were slightly more consistent. Temperature readings were as follows: 634°F back right, 635.1°F front right, 678.6°F center right, 711.5°F center left, 630.1°F front left, and 663.3°F back left.
In addition to the inconsistency of temperatures across the cooking surface, it is worth mentioning that the lid would not fully close when the grill was fully heated, leaving a 1-inch gap where the lid would normally sit flush against the firebox (see image below). Part of the lid handle also separated but I was able to pop it back together.
Next, I tested the grill for even heat by toasting bread across the entire cooking surface over medium heat. In the photo below, you can see that the bread across the center 1/3 of the grill surface was the darkest (which is in line with the higher temperatures seen with the ambient probes) while the bread in the front was still rather pale, especially at the very front of the grill. Heat at the rear 1/3 of the grates, closest to the lid hinge was darker on the left which is similar to what was seen with the ambient probes earlier.
To further test the grill’s heat distribution, I cooked chicken wings using this recipe and spread them out across the entire cooking surface over medium-high heat. In the picture below you see that the wings in the center, like the bread, browned the most evenly while the wings closest to the front of the grill were still rather pale.
To assess the grill’s ability to cook low-and-slow, I turned the left burner on, leaving the right one completely off, creating a 2-zone set-up. I then adjusted the right temperature knob to bring the grill’s ambient temperature as close to 225-250°F as possible. Unfortunately, the lowest I could get the grill with one burner off and the second burner set to low was approximately 385°F as measured at grate level on the indirect heat side of the grill. That’s quite a bit higher than our standard low-and-slow cooking temp of 225°F. And while my intention was to cook a rack of ribs, a standard rack of baby backs was too long for the grill. I had to cut approximately 1/3 of the rack off to get it to fit. I seasoned the rack and placed it as far from the heat source as possible (you can find some of our favorite rib recipes here). Then I closed the lid and let the ribs cook for 2 hours 15 minutes, at which point the ribs were getting rather dark so I wrapped them in foil. The ribs then cooked for approximately 1 more hour, at which time they were tender enough to serve. While the exterior was rather charred and leathery from the high heat, they were still moist on the interior so it wasn’t a complete loss.
Following the 2-zone low-and-slow cooking test, I cranked the heat all of the way up to see how well the grill would sear a steak. To do so, I set both burners to high and let the grill preheat for 5 minutes with the lid closed before cooking a flank steak (check out my favorite flank steak recipe here). After approximately 12 minutes of cooking the flank steak with the lid up and flipping it every minute or so, it was cooked to a perfect medium-rare according to my Thermapen Mk-4 instant read thermometer. Since the grates never got above 500°F, the steak never formed a darkly seared crust.
Note that I did not try cooking with the lid down to trap the heat, as the owner’s manual actually states that “roasting (or running the barbeque with the hood down) should not be done with all control knobs set to high…roasting is best done using a raised roasting rack, such as the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal roasting rack HBROASTR, which allows heated air to circulate around the meat, and fats to drip away from the meat.” Since this roasting rack is sold separately I did not test this roasting method.
For one final test, I cooked eight pre-formed frozen hamburger patties with the lid open and the burners set to high. Flipping them only once, nearly all eight cooked perfectly after 8-10 minutes, though as you can see from the photo below, the portion of the burgers at the very front of the grill did not brown as well as elsewhere on the cooking grate. Otherwise they cooked fairly evenly with little to no flare-ups from dripping fat. The flame tamers built into the grill grates did their job.
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After cooking, the manual recommends turning the burners off and closing the propane tank. While still warm, brush the grates with a non-metal scraper to prevent damage to the porcelain enamel coating on the grates. Any additional grease or food scraps can be cleaned from the bottom of the firebox by removing the grates once they have fully cooled or by using heat resistant gloves. Also remove and clean the grease tray.
For the hood, the Everdure website recommends cleaning it with a microfiber cloth before the first use and regularly thereafter. They also note that the paint finish on the lid could change slightly due to heat but can be restored using a multi-surface polish when the grill is completely cooled by gently wiping down with the microfiber cloth.
As previously noted, the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal FORCE is one of the most stylish gas grills in the marketplace with its sleek lines, stylish knobs and handle, and multiple color options.
The small footprint is suitable for anyone with limited space on a patio or backyard. With 388 square inches of total grilling space, you certainly can’t feed a large crowd but it is perfect for a single, a couple, or a young family. If you opt for a 2-zone set-up, the grilling space is reduced to only 194 square inches to cook on (note my test above with a single shortened rack of baby back ribs).
There were a number of other negatives when it comes to the FORCE, especially given the price point of this grill. First, the assembly instructions were rather lacking, resulting in over an hour being spent trying to match up parts, line up screw holes, etc. This was also apparent when trying to convert the unit from a tabletop grill to a standalone grill. It took numerous tries to get the legs of the base unit to line up with the screw hole on the grill stand. Personally, I would not promote this as a 2-in-1 grill without also offering a conversion kit so it can be used with 1-pound camping size propane bottles. As it is now, you are forced to lug a 20-pound propane tank in your trunk, backseat, or truck bed any time you want to use the grill remotely sans stand.
Finally, I was rather dismayed by the temperature issues I experienced. The grill temperature doesn’t get quite high enough for proper searing or quite low enough for 2-zone cooking. When cooking over high heat with the lid open as recommended, I found it impossible to get a good sear on a steak. At high temperatures, there were also structural issues, including the inability to close the lid completely and the handle separating. While both of those issues were repairable (the lid eventually closed once the grill had cooled and I opened and closed it several times to loosen it up; the handle popped back together with some pressure), it is hard to say how these structural items will hold up over time.
On the lower end of the heat spectrum, it was impossible to get the grate level temperature below 385°F on the “cool” side of the grill using a 2-zone set-up (one burner set to low, the other completely off), meaning that it is virtually impossible to do true low-and-slow cooking on this unit.
Even though this grill falls short in several areas and the price tag is on the steep side for what the grill delivers, the die-cast aluminum body and enamel coating should hold up well over time, and the smaller footprint does make it appealing for those with limited outdoor space.
Everdure grills are warranted to the original owner for ten (10) years for the outer body, burners, hood, and cart against all rust or burn through and five (5) years for exterior paint and finish against rust through.
Heston Blumenthal is one of the world’s top chefs. His Berkshire restaurant, The Fat Duck, has won international accolades and been awarded 3 Michelin stars, while Heston himself was given an O.B.E. by Her Majesty the Queen of England for services to British Gastronomy. Heston collaborated with Everdure, to bring his artistic touch to the great outdoors, with an innovative range of barbeques and accessories. Everdure Grill designs are strikingly unique and cosmetically pleasing.
Published On: 10/30/2020 Last Modified: 6/17/2021
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