Behold the the very first retail product from cocktail wizard and Museum of Food and Drink founder Dave Arnold and Booker and Dax in New York City: the Searzall blowtorch attachment. A product development arm for the NYC cocktail bar has long been in the works, with Arnold telling Eater back in 2011 that he was planning to develop "a slew of new cooking devices" with the backing of Momofuku founder David Chang.
Essentially a hand-held broiler, the Searzall attaches to a blowtorch, forcing the flames to spread evenly and create a high quality finish. Arnold explains "we are taking the power of the torch, and transforming its pencil thin, too hot flame, into a much more even, almost radiant, infrared heater." Arnold says he was inspired to improve upon the basic blowtorch because he "needed a very powerful, high temperature tool to finish low temperature or sous vide meats without creating what we call 'torch taste,' or that nasty fuel taste typically associated with using a blowtorch when cooking."
Arnold hopes that both home cooks and professional cooks will find the product useful. A press release explains that the product can just as easily be used to "revive cold foods such as pizza to their ideal temperature" as it can to "quickly finish meats at the chef's pass." Arnold explains that the tool was actually derived from exploring a faulty hypothesis:
"First, when we originally started working on this initial problem of torch taste, it was always my thought that it was the actual fuel creating the undesirable flavors. In short, it was an incorrect hypothesis that uncombusted fuel was creating these flavors.
When I was a grad student in art school, I was badly burnt trying to create an art piece inspired by St. George and the Dragon (a picture depicting this scene now hangs in the Booker and Dax bar). At that time, I was burnt because I miscalculated the size of the fireball when stepping into the flame. The flame turned out to be 4 or 5 times larger due to excess combustion. With the problem of the blowtorch, I assumed that the torch taste was resulting from a similar issue of uncombusted fuel.
The initial idea was to put a piece of mesh in front of the flame of a blowtorch to slow down the burning process and result in a more complete combustion. However, it turns out that that it wasn't the problem of the excess fuel, but that the side effect of turning the flame into a much more radiant, portable heat, does solve the problem of torch taste. My initial premise was wrong, but it lead us in the right direction for creating the Searzall."
Arnold says that development has been an ongoing process over the past year. Booker and Dax is in their final round of beta testing now, with an anticipated final release date in April 2014. For now, the product is available by donating to a Kickstarter which launches on Friday, November 29. Although it is not yet decided, Booker and Dax is looking at a tentative retail price of $75 when the Searzall is released. To see the Searzall in action, check out this Driving Ingenuity video: