BOARDMAN, Ohio – Dave Shevel has always been a tinkerer. So, when he bought a Hasty-Bake grill nine years ago, he couldn’t help but try and make it better.
Six years into his experiment, Shevel has created a grill for the cook who’s “been there, done that and wants something different,” he says. “This is for serious cookers.”
Shevel got the idea after visiting a Brazilian steakhouse in Las Vegas with his wife.
“They come to your table with a skewer. And I was so impressed,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’m going to see if I can do it on my Hasty-Bake just for me.’ “
Shevel, who works full-time as a home inspector, got to work drawing up his idea on his father-in-law’s more than 100-year-old drawing table, which today sits just behind his grills.
What he came up with, and has been testing and perfecting for years, is the Mark Grills Brazilian Attachment, a motorized set of skewers that greatly improves the versatility and cooking capacity of the grill.
“If you have a regular spit on the grill, which this one does, it’s about 28 inches long. I have 13 feet of rotisserie going on right now,” Shevel says.
“Isn’t that crazy? And it’s all in a 30-inch package.”
Shevel’s design allows the user to quickly and easily change the configuration of the grill, allowing up to nine rotating skewers to be used at once, and all without the need for any tools.
The bottom grill grate, or half of it, can be removed, making space for the skewers, which lock into the back of the grill where they are slowly turned by the motor.
Each skewer has a wooden handle on the end so it can be removed and replaced without the use of gloves.
“You can feed a lot of people. When we put chicken wings on, we do 120 at a time and they’re done in 20 minutes,” Shevel says.
The bottom row can fit five skewers. If more are needed, another attachment allows the user to install another four above.
Above all the skewers Shevel places a metal plate that harnesses the heat and acts as a warming tray. Once all the food is on the skewers, one simply relaxes and lets the grill do all the work.
“The guys will just stand around and watch this,” Shevel says as his skewers slowly turn.
The grill was a big hit at Shevel’s cookouts and people began to tell him he should sell it.
Shevel is one of only a handful of authorized Hasty-Bake dealers in the eastern part of the United States. So with Hasty-Bake’s blessing, he began working to perfect his prototype.
For the last six years, he’s been running it in the middle of winter, running it all night. So far all has been running smoothly.
Shevel attributes much of the success to the sturdiness and well-built Hasty-Bake grills he sells and modifies.
He began selling the grills through his company, Mark Grills, six years ago last April. He bought his first Hasty-Bake grill nearly 10 years ago.
What sold him was its adjustable firebox, which allows the user to raise or lower the charcoal bed to allow for grilling, smoking or baking.
“I don’t need a green egg for low and slow; I don’t need a Webber to sear; I do it all on this,” Shevel says.
Another popular feature of Hasty-Bakes is the vent system, which, unlike traditional grills, isn’t in the hood. Rather, it’s below the meat.
Shevel says this means the heat rolls around the grill instead of simply heading up and out, which leads to pockets of cold air.
Bill Strimbu, president of Strimbu Trucking in Brookfield, heard about Shevel’s grills two years ago and, on a whim, stopped by his shop in Boardman to see what they were all about.
“I had one in the back of my truck on the way out of there,” Strimbu says.
“He’s a good salesman.”
Strimbu says his Hasty-Bake only has one rotisserie skewer, not the nine that come with Shevel’s prototype. He enjoys burning different types of wood along with the charcoal to add different flavors to the food he cooks.
Shevel offers three models of the Hasty-Bake grills, the largest running about $3,000. He says he sells about a dozen per year, with customers coming from as far as Michigan and New Jersey.
Although he hasn’t yet sold any of the grills with the Brazilian attachment, he has about four ready to go.
“The way this sits right now, it’s about $7,500. So, it’s not a Kmart grill,” Shevel says.
On the burner is Shevel’s latest idea, a Hasty-Bake with a horizontal shawarma attachment.
Like the Brazilian attachment, the motorized spit allows the user to easily cook and serve a large piece of meat such as a gyro.
“It falls down here and you gather it up,” Shevel says, gesturing to the tray beneath the skewer. “It’s killer.”
Shevel says he isn’t sure when he’ll be sufficiently satisfied with the shawarma attachment to begin selling it and he’s in no hurry.
Even though the Brazilian attachment has been more or less ready and available for years, he doesn’t advertise it and seems to get most of his satisfaction from seeing the reaction.
“I’m not arrogant but I am proud of it,” Shevel says.
“It’s one of a kind right here in Boardman, Ohio.”
Pictured: David Shevel’s design allows up to nine rotating skewers to be used at once.