Bring the Heat

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

With summer on the horizon, the heat is definitely on … the grill. Cooking over an open flame gives your cuisine a smoky, fresh flavor.

But before you throw on an apron and get fired up, it's essential to have the right tools of the trade. Columbus-area chefs agree tongs, a meat thermometer and a charcoal chimney (if grilling with charcoal) are must-haves. New to grilling? Don't hand over the cash for the first expensive grill you find.

"Until you really get into it, you don't want to spend a lot of money and invest in something you might not use," says Ed Kowalski, a suites chef for Delaware North Companies at Nationwide Arena and the president of the Columbus chapter of ManBQue.

Once it's time to prepare the food, it's important the grill gets to the proper temperature. A good benchmark is 350 degrees or warmer.

"Make sure your grill is really hot before you put anything on it," says Dan Kraus, owner of That Food Truck. "Stuff has to sizzle."

After it's on the grill, Kowalski advises moving the meat no more than two times. The quality is affected the more it's moved around.

And even if you're eager to bite into your burger right after it's done, letting it sit for a few moments is the best option. Kraus explains this helps the juices stay locked into the meat.

As you're looking for some inspiration this summer, don't forget to turn to meat alternatives. Will Johnston, head chef at Strongwater Food and Spirits, has a smoked quinoa slider-made of quinoa and veggies-on the menu. Other vegetarian options for your own recipes include squash, eggplant and zucchini.

"A lot of the same items people cook in the kitchen are very applicable to the grill," Kowalski says. "As your experience and comfort level get better, you can move onto smoking."