Country Grilled
Lamb Chops
Country Grilled Lamb Chops

Make the Grill Work Harder for You

Country Grilled Lamb Chops

Industry experts share best grilling practices for premium results

 

Chances are, you're already making good use of your grill. It cooks food beautifully, from burgers to steaks. It imparts the visceral flavour of fire, relays authenticity of place and lets diners know that craftsmanship is behind their eating experience.

But it takes a deft hand to cook protein properly, coax out flavour and caramelize without over-charring. Why bother, when sautéing generally takes less back-of-house effort? "Grilling signals dining cues that guests today consider valuable," says Joseph Barin, corporate chef, Kraft Foodservice. "The smell helps elevate hunger and anticipation. Grill marks are elegant and enticing. And often, grilling indicates a better-for-you experience. It also can help upgrade the value perception." That all adds up to a moneymaking opportunity. Here, industry experts offer grilling tips, secrets and "best practices" to help you maximize profits from your grill.

Grilling Best Practices
Joseph Barin
Joseph Barin

corporate chef, Kraft Foodservice

favourite marinade: Kraft Golden Italian Dressing

favourite glaze: Bull's-Eye Original Barbecue Sauce

grill preference: gas-fired grill

Ryan Morrison
Ryan Morrison

assistant corporate chef, Glowbal Group; executive chef, Glowbal Grill, Vancouver

restaurant style: steaks and satay

grill setup: 48-inch gas-fired grill; top-fired broiler, flat top; 24-inch gas Forno high-heat oven

King Phojanakong
King Phojanakong

chef-owner, Kuma Inn and Umi Nom, New York City

restaurant style: independent specializing in Filipino-American "mash-ups"

grill setup: 36-inch gas-fired grill

Cliff Pleau
Cliff Pleau

executive chef, Seasons 52, Orlando-based

restaurant style: fresh grill and wine bar featuring seasonally inspired cooking; 30-plus units in 15 states

grill setup: open-fire grill fueled by 75% oak wood and 25% mesquite coals; brick oven

Gary Wiviott
Gary Wiviott

pitmaster, Barn & Company, Chicago

author of: Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons

restaurant style: independent

grill setup: two commercial smokers; live fire charcoal grill; 48-inch gas-fired grill; salamander; flat top

Randy Zweiban
Randy Zweiban

principal of SRZ Consulting

previous restaurant experience: chef-owner of Province; chef-partner of Nacional 27

grill preferences: gas-fired grill; chapa, an Argentine flat cast-iron pan

Chef Pleau

Pleau elevates grilled salmon with a marinade of ground white onion, malt vinegar, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, Old Bay Seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. "The vinegar cuts through the fattiness of the fish while the mustard gives it depth," he says. "That marinade also works well on rotisserie chicken and lamb." When grilling salmon, he cooks the meat side down first to caramelize it. After he flips it, he lets the skin burn, then slides the meat right off the skin for service.

Chef Wiviott

For Barn & Company's famous chicken wings, Wiviott steeps wings overnight in a buttermilk brine (buttermilk, brown sugar, sage, thyme, coriander, white peppercorn, salt). He pats them down with a house rub, then cooks them in a 240˚F oven with a final low-temp finish on the gas grill to crisp the skin. The hot wings are tossed in butter and hot sauce and paired with a dipping sauce of Kraft Rancher's Choice Dressing or Kraft Blue Cheese Dressing. "The Kraft Dressings give our prep cooks one less thing to spend valuable time on."

Chef Zweiban

A standard salad can be made special with an unexpected but wonderful layer of smoky flavour. Zweiban pours a vinaigrette or dressing into a small container and places it in a hotel pan with smouldering wood chips, covered with aluminum foil, until the smoke penetrates the liquid (approximately 30 minutes).

Chef Wiviott

"I'm a big believer in the flavour domino effect," says Wiviott. He often starts with a marinade, then smokes the meat and adds a spice rub for even deeper flavour. "Season both sides. Spices interact with the fire, and fire is a flavour-changer."

Chef Pleau

Seasons 52 features rustic cooking techniques, like brick oven-roasting and grilling on an open fire—with nothing on the menu over 475 calories. For a better-for-you profile without sacrificing flavour, Pleau suggests spritzing items on the grill with oil from a spray bottle rather than dipping them in butter before grilling.

Chef Barin

To add smoky flavour without investing in a commercial smoker, Barin suggests soaking wood chips in water or fruit juice in a shallow hotel pan, then heating on the stovetop until the wood smokes. "Then move that to a preheated oven and slow roast a protein in there with the smoking wood chips. Delicious."

Chef Phojanakong

"Grilling is a great way to showcase delicious Filipino flavours," says Phojanakong. "But with proteins that take a long time to cook on the grill, the trick is to caramelize without over-charring." He starts with a dry rub, then adds a glaze 5-10 minutes before pulling from the grill. "If you use a marinade or early glaze on a longer-cooked item, the sugars in it will burn before it's cooked through."

Chef Pleau

"If you're putting in the effort, you want to get credit for it," says Pleau. Seasons 52 employs powerful menu language to relay premium cues, like "oak-grilled" and "caramelized." Other enticing phrases that help convey value are "spice-rubbed," "slow-marinated" and "wood-grilled."

Chef Zweiban

Zweiban marinates vegetables, such as spring onion, summer squash and portobello, then grills them on a white-hot "chapa," or Argentine-style flat grill. After chilling down, he incorporates them into salads and other composed dishes. "Preparing these components ahead of time, then pulling for service, adds depth of flavour and increases the guest's value perception."

Chef Morrison

For Glowbal Grill, a rotating menu of seafood, meat and vegetable satay items helps catapult sales. "The satay sells itself," says Morrison, referencing the sight of the satay platters, the sound of the sizzle from the open kitchen and the smell of the grill. "Pulling something from a live fire brings so many positives to the business. Plus it offers incredible value for these small bite-size portions with big flavours."

Chef Phojanakong

Certain value cuts of meat, like the flat iron and Denver cut, perform well on the grill with the help of a marinade to tenderize the meat and add flavour. One of Phojanakong's recent creations: grilled skirt steak marinated in rice vinegar, palm sugar, chipotle, vegetable oil, Dijon mustard, onion, garlic and soy sauce. "I buzz it all, then let the steak sit in it overnight," he says.



Cliff Pleau is no longer at Seasons 52.
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