Celebrity Invention: Todd English's Rotating Carousel Grille

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for celebrityinvention.jpgSome celebrities aren't just pretty faces. A few of them are also touched with that Yankee prowess for tinkering and invention. In this weekly series, we introduce you to the Patents of the Rich and Famous. And maybe you learn a little bit about how patent literature works along the way.

Inventor: William Todd English a.k.a Todd English

Known For: He's a celebrity chef. Think one of those charismatic cooks that make guest judging appearances on Top Chef, rather than greasy line cook at your local burger joint. After graduating with honors from the American Culinary Institute, English worked his way up the food world ladder eventually becoming "One of the most decorated, respected and charismatic chefs in the world," as his very slick personal website explains.

Invented Apparatus: "Carousel grille with rotating tines"


It's an improvement on your standard rotisserie grill. Instead of rotating skewered chickens around a spit in one direction, English enhanced the operation by allowing for rotation both around the grill and around the spit with his carousel-shaped design:

A carousel-like grille assembly which surrounds an oven. The carousel assembly carries tines which extend over the oven. The carousel assembly moves circumferentially around the oven while at the same time the tines rotate about their longitudinal axes. The net effect is the tines travel in a generally circular path over the oven while each line is rotating.

Rationale Behind Invention: English is a cook. Of course he wants to improve upon the cooking process. As he explains in his patent application, shish kebob-esque grilling is a common occurrence in restaurants, why not make it better?

In restaurants, large kitchens and the like, one method of cooking meat, poultry and seafood products is to grille the products. It is known that similar or dissimilar products can  be placed on multiple spits. The food product is skewed on the spit.

English's invention allows for this technique on a mass scale. Instead of slapping a few kebabs on the grill, turning them every so often and hoping for the best, those cooking a lot of food can stick their creations into the carousel, ensuring a well-cooked product with less fuss.

Off-Label Uses: We imagine airlines might adopt English's invention to warm up those moist towelettes they sometimes give out at the end of long flights. Well, maybe airlines of yesteryear. Or fancy European air carriers. Probably not the ones who charge extra fees for carry-on baggage.

Future Directions: The average cook doesn't have Todd English kitchen magic. We need more help than just a fancy grill. Perhaps adding a feature that seasons and cooks chicken (er, whatever you eat) the official Todd English way. Branding plus customer satisfaction, what could be better?

Peruse more Celebrity Inventions.

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Rebecca Greenfield is a former staff writer at The Wire.

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