Ken Hall originally designed his Cobb oven as an alternative to the paraffin stoves found in South Africa’s informal settlements. These makeshift stoves are the major cause of deadly settlement fires. The Cobb concept has been very well received and today, updated and redesigned, it’s a popular choice for outdoors enthusiasts everywhere.

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Eight charcoal briquettes provide three hours of cooking time in Ken Hall's Cobb oven.

Ken Hall is the brains behind the Cobb oven, the small, portable barbeque that lets you fire up the coals anywhere, any time. An industrial designer, Ken Hall previously spent much of his time working on building sites.

But after facing the reality of South Africa's devastating informal settlement fires, largely caused by the unsophisticated paraffin stoves used in these areas, he set about working on a design that would offer a safe alternative.

As a South African inventor, Ken Hall was all too aware of conditions in these settlements, and so came up with a stove that used charcoal briquettes instead of electricity for energy, that didn't pose a fire risk, and remained cool to the touch.

Ken Hall's initial prototype used dry corn cobs as its fuel source, hence the product's name. Although since then, the unit has gone through several incarnations and the design has been refined dramatically.

Today the Cobb grill is a small and lightweight, ecofriendly, portable barbecue that can be safely used indoors or out. It has gained incredible popularity among outdoors enthusiasts and received rave reviews from camping, caravanning and even sailing publications in the US and UK.

In 2001, the Cobb was named one of only 34 best inventions of the year in Time magazine. The grill has also won several awards including two Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association VESTA Awards.

Aside from its safety and portability features, the Cobb also promotes healthier cooking. Designed to allow fat and grease to drain away from the sizzling meat, the grill has been approved by the South African Heart Foundation.

The Cobb is patented worldwide and available through distributors across the globe. Plans are underway to have the cooker distributed in less affluent countries through international aid organisations.