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Gadgets: Grill Daddy Heat Shield BBQ Tools

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[Photograph: Grill Daddy]

Don't you hate it when you're working the grill and you singe your knuckle hairs? That's the problem that the Grill Daddy tools are designed to solve. A heat shield hangs below the area where you grip the tool. The shield rotates around so it's always hanging below, so you don't need to worry about positioning it—you can twist the tools around to grab, poke, and move food on the grill and the shield will always be between you and the heat.

I tested Grill Daddy tongs ($24.99) plus two add-on spatula attachments ($12 each). The attachments were pretty easy to swap: just remove one of the tong ends, put a spatula on, and you've got a spatula below with a grippy tong on top. (There is also a fork and a spatula with the same shield. I haven't seen them in person, but they look like the handle and shield are the same as what's on the tongs.) It sounds useful, right?

Maybe. The theory behind it is good. I know that there have been times when I've thought I should have brought an oven mitt outside with me when I'm using a short pair of tongs or a some other inappropriate kitchen tool. Most of the time, I just work quickly and dodge around and grab the mitts on the next trip to the grill.

Or, if I'm smarter, I grab more appropriate tools.

These tools are appropriate. The tongs were long enough that my hand was nowhere near the heat when I was moving the food around on the grill. So the length helped keep my delicate hand away from the heat, but that meant that the heat shield was overkill.

Someone working with a larger grill might find the heat shield more useful, though. When I approached the grill from the side rather than the front, the shield protected my hand, so that was great. But if I needed to reach to the far end, more than just my hand was at risk of toasting.

The heat shield also served as the lock to keep the tongs in the closed position, and that worked with just a twist of the wrist. Once I figured out the right motion, it was really simple to flip the tongs closed before I set them down. I thought that was kind of a neat feature.

If you've got a grill, you probably need decent barbecue tools. Short kitchen implements might not be the best bet. These tools are well-made and long enough to be useful on an average-sized barbecue and the heat shield provides extra protection if you've got a larger grill. Whether that heat shield is enough of an improvement to warrant tossing your old tools and buying these—I'm not completely sold on that idea.

There's one major reason why these tongs aren't going be my go-to barbecue tool: they were a little big for my hands. They weren't so big that I couldn't use them, but they felt a awkward. They'd be much better for someone with larger paws.

About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.

Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.

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