11 Chefs Share Their Top BBQ Tips

11 Chefs Share Their Top BBQ Tips


It would be rude not to BBQ on a bank holiday weekend, so we asked some of our favourite chefs for their best tips and tricks. From how to select the right meat to Tom Aikens’ ultimate sauce, here’s how to raise the bar SLMan style.

Struan Robertson, Provenance Village Butcher

“I'm all about big cuts that you can slice and share – they’re easy to cook and have high impact on the cutting board. Go for a bone-in ribeye or butterflied lamb leg – anything thick so you can get great colour on the outside while keeping the middle perfectly blush. Our chef Barry has been bringing the fire recently, trying out Szechuan chilli rubs on our chicken wings – the numbing chillies tickle your lips and really stand out. For something more traditional and versatile, you can't go wrong with an olive oil-based marinade with whatever herbs you have in your garden, crushed garlic and some lemon zest. I'm a Big Green Egg devotee, but I think it's all about the cook, not the kit. As long as you can get your grill hot, invest in good fresh produce, and you keep an eye on what you're doing, you can cook great food. When it comes to sides, I love a cool slaw, especially as you can make it in advance, and I generally make a tomato salad, making sure to salt and drain my toms that morning. We often grab a bag of Turkish flatbreads to warm up over the coals and then pile all the cooked meat on top of them to soak up the juices. My final tip: don’t let the booze and vibes distract you. You can’t un-burn a great steak.”
Visit ProvenanceButcher.com

Tom Aikens, Muse By Tom Aikens

“For the ultimate BBQ sauce, sweat four onions in a pan, then add 10 garlic cloves, followed by 10g of salt, 4 pinches of black pepper, 2 tsp of chilli powder, 2 bay leaves and 200g of light brown sugar. Add 5 quartered tomatoes, 12 drops of Tabasco sauce, 200g of molasses, 200g of HP Sauce, 300ml of Worcestershire sauce, 300ml of cider vinegar, 50g of french mustard, 300g of Heinz tomato ketchup and 3 tbsp of tamarind paste. Slowly bring to a simmer for approximately two hours, until thickened, stirring now and again. Remove the bay leaf and purée until smooth.”
Visit MuseByTomAikens.com


“Lamb is easily one of my favourite meats to cook and lamb fat is the best. There is no better flavour in my opinion. The shoulder has loads of fat and connective tissue, so it really works well with a slow-and-low cook. A good-sized lamb shoulder can take anywhere from 3½ to 6 hours depending on the size, how the animal was raised, the fat content, and other factors. It loves a good basting: this helps keep the joint nice and moist, and adds layers of flavour. Take the lamb shoulder out of the fridge at least an hour before the cook – it’s got to be at room temperature when you put it on the grill. Take a sharp knife and lightly score the fat to create more surface area for the rub and basting sauce. Massage the olive oil all over the scored lamb shoulder, then rub your meat liberally with the seasonings. Add seasoned wood chunks to your fuel, put the lid on, and slow-cook that baby! Do not touch the lamb for the first hour; this will help create a tangy crust and keep the moisture in. After the first hour, baste the lamb, then baste again every 45 minutes or so. The lamb is done when it’s done. There is no exact timing. You’ll need to keep an eye on the joint and do some prodding. There should be a bit of give when you touch the meat, and you want to see the meat pulling away from the bone. When the meat starts to fall off the bone, you have a major success story. Rest the lamb under loose foil for 30 minutes, then serve.”

Visit DJBBQ.com

"As long as you can get your grill hot, invest in good fresh produce, and you keep an eye on what you're doing, you can cook great food."
- Struan Robertson

Bruce Paterson, Worstead Estate

“For someone looking to improve their skills and knowledge, digital thermometers help to guide you through the process while providing a safety net, so at least a nice piece of meat isn't ruined. I recommend the Meater digital thermometer, which comes with an app. It walks you through it all and there’s no need to keep opening up the BBQ to see what’s going on. When it comes to grilling, buy quality over quantity, then let the meat do the talking. Treat the meat with respect and avoid adding strong flavours – you want to taste the meat you’re cooking.”
Visit WorsteadEstate.com

Jun Tanaka, The Ninth

“My BBQ of choice is the Kamado Joe Grill, which I got last summer. If you’re cooking for veggies, opt for summer-friendly vegetables such as courgettes and hispi cabbage. Brush the vegetables very lightly with oil, to prevent them from burning on the BBQ. Cut the vegetables into larger pieces so they’re easier to handle and do not fall through the grill. Season the vegetables an hour before cooking to allow the seasoning to penetrate. Once the veg are cooked, flavour them with a splash of sherry vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice.”
Visit TheNinthLondon.com

Sabrina Ghayour

“I love spring onions – in everything, on everything and with everything. Traditionally we eat them raw with bread and feta cheese as staple fare of the Persian table. Griddling or BBQing them mellows out the oniony flavour and intense charring works beautifully with the sweetness of cooked onion flesh. Chargrilling them on a BBQ is ideal, but you can also cook them easily on the hob in a griddle pan. This dish is great served alone or as an accompaniment at any time of year. Simply mix together 1.5 tbsp of olive oil, the juice of half a fat lime, 1 tbsp of clear honey and Maldon sea salt flakes, and drizzle over the charred onions. Top with hazelnuts, lime zest and chilli flakes for a satisfying crunch.”
Visit SabrinaGhayour.com

Tom Griffiths, Flank

“Make sure you have a probe, as you need to know the internal temperature. If you want a hack to get extra smoke into your meat, give your logs a soak in water that is infused with rosemary, peppercorns or whichever herbs you like. It makes a great smoke-infused flavour. If you’re BBQing veggies, put them directly on the fire, and bury them in the flames ­– it will act like an oven, so it's great for things like jacket potatoes. If you're grilling, don't have the flame too hot, as it can make many vegetables taste bitter. Finally, chilli sambal is absolutely the best marinade you can buy.”
Visit FlankLondon.com

"Having a good selection of condiments is essential for a great BBQ, from ketchup to squirt all over a freshly done sausage to mayo for a great potato salad."
- James Cochran

Tom Hixson of Smithfield

“Many make the mistake of simply lighting their grill and placing the meat on the rack straight away, but you must preheat your BBQ before cooking any produce. Depending on the type of grill you are using, you should heat around 30 minutes before placing any food on the rack. This gives the BBQ a chance to reach the optimum cooking temperature. It might not be at the forefront of your mind when BBQing, but choosing good-quality pellets can help add flavour to your meat while improving on the smoke delivery too. Hickory wood pellets are great for enhancing the flavour of your meat while providing efficient fuel for your BBQing and smoking. Any pit master will know that choosing the right meat is vital for a great-tasting result. For the ideal beef for BBQs, we recommend a marbled brisket joint, steak burgers and short ribs. When it comes to pork, a Boston butt is great for pulled meat, and of course baby back ribs are always a hit. No BBQ is complete without sausages. In our opinion, the best for BBQs are toscana, chorizo and criolla, which all offer exceptional flavours and will certainly bring your BBQ up to the next level.” 
Visit TomHixson.co.uk

James Cochran, 12:51

“Making sure you have long-handled metal tongs is like having a sous chef for your BBQ kitchen. You can easily handle the meat and make sure they cook at the right temperatures by moving them across the heat at the right time and making sure you don’t rip or tear your meat. Having a good selection of condiments is essential for a great BBQ, from ketchup to squirt all over a freshly done sausage to mayo for a great potato salad. I like Sauce Shop sauces like the Honey & Sriracha Drizzle, which can double as a marinade, and its Burger Sauce is a must inside a toasted bun. When cooking chicken on the BBQ, it’s important to know which sections and parts of the BBQ are good for the different stage of cooking. Start by cooking your chicken on the top shelf of the BBQ so the heat can slowly cook the meat, making sure the middle is cooked with the lid down. This creates steam to ensure moist chicken and that the middle is cooked through. This can take up to 40 minutes for leg and thigh pieces, so be patient! After that, with your metal tongs, bring the chicken onto the bottom shelf to chargrill and impart that smokiness that makes BBQed chicken extra special.”
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Richard Bainbridge, Benedicts

"My first tip for a BBQ is to be organised. Never start grilling until your coals are white and your grill is hot. Have a spray bottle of water to spritz onto the embers of the coals to cool them down slightly before you put your meat onto it. Lightly brush your meat with oil, but don't use too much, as it easily drips onto the coal which makes it smoke and will turn your meat black. Once you’ve grilled and roasted your meat make sure you continue to rest it, either on your shelf above the grill or have a subsection on the side of your BBQ to rest the meat as you would at home when roasting a steak. Once the BBQ is going, wrap vegetables in tin foil such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole celeriac, whole kohlrabi and put them straight onto the coals. Let them char on the outside and then scoop the inside out, as they’ll have a great slightly smoky flavour. Aubergines are also great when you grill them on the BBQ – brush with a miso paste like you would a steak with BBQ sauces. Finally, don’t forget that a BBQ is just a very large stove, so use it as if you were cooking in your kitchen.”

Visit RestaurantBenedicts.com

Mark Greenaway, Grazing

“I think the best tip I can give is to buy a BBQ that is large enough to have controllable heat zones – that way you can vary the heat depending on what you're cooking. I think the biggest mistake us Brits sometimes make is thinking everything must cook on a scorching hot BBQ. I think we’ve all eaten a burnt sausage or two at a friend’s BBQ; in particular, there’s nothing worse than sausages that are almost raw in the middle but burnt on the outside. I spent five years living and working in Sydney, and one thing they are amazing at over there is hosting a BBQ. In Australia, the rule when invited to a BBQ is bring your own protein, so the host will do an amazing spread of side dishes and each person that turns up brings a few steaks or some marinated pork chops, and someone will always turn up with some sausages or seafood, so it always ends up being an event that everyone is involved in and not just the host. That way everyone can enjoy the day.” 

Visit MarkGreenaway.com

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