Plans for the holiday weekend? Grilling, perhaps? We won’t be—because that sounds like work, and we prefer holidays from work. But we understand many of you unwind by cooking over an open flame.

It’s for this reason that we consulted a few trusted cooking professionals, aka chefs, to share their stories: the joys of grilling, the fails of grilling, some helpful tips and words of caution.

Because Mercury retro-shade is real—as is burnt, mayo covered, bronzino for 100 (see below), propane tanks catching fire (also below) and kitchen’s catching fire (yep, below).

On the bright side of failure, by which we mean in HUGELY SUCCESSFUL NEWS, three of our chef advisors are opening spots in the very, near future.

Chef Cameron Rolka’s preparing for his Corktown spot Mink, featuring wine, sake, oysters, and other snacks—like, for instance, lobster rolls and caviar. Meanwhile, longtime food truck, Esto’s Garage is planning for a fall launch of their West Village brick and mortar, and Chef Mike of Takoi family will be moving into Core City.

Which means soak up all the chef tips now because come fall it’s a.) the end of grilling season  b.) clearly lobster rolls and caviar are IT.

Chef Sarah Welch of Marrow

Greatest grill success?

While working at EAT catering and carry out I spent a year learning that a little patience when cooking whole sides of salmon on the grill means everything. It takes what seems like an impossible flip of a floppy, soft protein, and turns it into you looking like a badass. All you have to do is wait for the perfect moment.

Chef Talk

Chef Sarah Welch

Greatest grill failure?

Worked for a friend at a wedding for 100 people and was charged with the huge responsibility of cooking the whole Bronzino. SOMEONE (lookin at you Adam Verville) told me that if you put mayonnaise on the fish it wouldn’t stick. You can probably guess by the subject of the story that the fish…. stuck. And burned. And was covered in mayonnaise. #fail

Cookout tip or idea?

I love slow roasting a NY Strip on the grill – rub it overnight in salt and seasoning then put in on some slow charcoal and let it roll till the internal temp is 110F. Rest it and then throw it back on when you’re ready to eat for 10 min. Slice and serve.

Brendon Edwards of Gold Cash Gold

Greatest grill success?

Grill success I think really lies in grill control. A charcoal grill lives. It’s really got a life of its own and to domesticate it is really a thing of beauty.

Chef Talk

Chef Brendon Edwards

Greatest grill failure?

When a propane tank caught fire. I ripped it off the grill and tossed it away from the house and people. Luckily nothing happened. But lesson be learned: use charcoal.

Cookout tip or idea?

As far as menu goes, keep things simple. Veggies with mayo or aioli, grilled meats or smoked—if you are capable—and often, if you got it hot enough, a good grilled melon salad with a mint dressing is a nice way to cool down and make something interesting.

Chef Mike Conrad of Takoi and Magnet (Coming Soon!)

Greatest grill success?

Feeding people before 10:30pm with minimal to no leftovers.

Chef Talk

Chef Mike Conrad

Greatest grill failure?

Mom’s not-enough-barbecue-sauce-chicken on an ice-cold, non-seasoned grill and forgetting to check if your buddy’s propane grill has any gas left in the tank.

Cookout tip or idea?

Fruit salad! There’s enough yellow beer and cheap meat for everyone. It’s more or less peak time of year for the best fruits “in my humble shitty opinion.” Add honey, sea salt, lime, pistachio, mint. Repeat. Maybe some cheese. Party on Wayne.

“…I threw my hands directly into this raging grease fire not once but three times to pull out those poor strips before they were scorched.”

Chef Cameron Rolka of Marrow and Mink (Coming Soon!)

Greatest grill success?

Camping in northern Michigan with foil and a campfire as the only cooking tools. We wrapped pork ribs up with onion, garlic, orange slices, and beer. Then poked and prodded around the fire for three hours. Somehow the rustic cooking method yielded some amazing ribs.

Chef Talk

Chef Cameron Rolka

Greatest grill failure?

I was grilling 13 whole NY strip loins for an event. They were already cooked to temp so I was just trying to put some nice color on them. I got the charcoal grills super hot and threw on the first three strip loins and everything was going swell. In my haste I forgot to set up hot and cool zones.

The intense heat quickly started rendering the fat which dripped down on to hot coals and instantly turned into a massive grease fire. I had not brought long enough tongs, so in my fear of losing a few hundred dollars worth of meat, I threw my hands directly into this raging grease fire not once but three times to pull out those poor strips before they were scorched.

Hindsight I could have just pulled the grill grate off the grill entirely. And not given myself 1st and 2nd degree burns all over my hands.

Cookout tip or idea?

Use hardwood lump charcoal and a charcoal chimney to get your fire going. Bring long tongs and a fire poker. Create a hot zone and a cool zone with the coals. And don’t forget the fizzy beverages. Bubbles make a party!

Estabon Castro of Esto’s Garage

Greatest grill success?

A few years back, I got the chance to feed all three of my mother’s childhood cousins in Indianapolis. I had talked about my business for years and promised to have a special tasting just for “The Hudson Girls.”

Chef Talk

Chef Esteban Castro

The time had come. I had the girls, the grill and food. The only problem was that this was all going down in late November.

They watched, through the patio doors, as I cooked. The wind was blowing (good for fire) but a light drizzle set in to battle the heat and flame. Many comments were exchanged about the craziness of their late cousin Doris’s son, but, in the end, we all sat down to a late autumn BBQ, and they truly loved it.

Sadly, it was the last time I had the chance to be with Mildred before she passed on. It was so very important to get all of them together for a true family meal. That night, I found the absolute deepest pleasure in feeding others, and it stays with me to this day.

“That night, I found the absolute deepest pleasure in feeding others, and it stays with me to this day.”

Greatest grill failure?

One time, during my very first paying gig, back in 2004, a small roof fire broke out in the homeowner’s kitchen exhaust fan. Everyone was freaking out and, though I too was concerned, I remained focused on flipping the 25 perfect little burgers on my Weber. During the struggle to obtain a hose to reach the roof, someone dragged a garden hose across the very path of the grill. It was quickly caught in the hose, and actually rolled nicely for a minute before crashing into the side of the house. I stood there watching the water rolling down the roof and onto my precious burgers. The dogs swooped in and swept up, and we all had Zukins BBQ instead.

Cookout tip or idea?

Grilled Eggplant:

Slice several small eggplant 1/4 inch thick.

Toss them in olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, sea salt, cracked pepper and good cajun seasoning.

Get a medium heat smoky grill going and sear the first side then flip to indirect heat for about seven minutes.

They can be enjoyed as little stacked cheese sandwiches with herb mayo or in salads, or delicious all by themselves.

 

 

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