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Everyone knows that summertime is the greatest. There are many reasons: beach vacations, wedding season, it’s not cold, and my personal favorite: grilling. You can grill in any season, but the smell of meat and heat wafting through the warm summer air is divine.
Simply put, I love to grill. In fact, I love grilling so much that I own three grills: a charcoal little smoker, a stand up propane grill to taste the meat not the heat, and my tailgate Weber grill that I often use for quick projects and tailgating. I like options and having the ability to cook my meat using multiple methods is something that I really enjoy. Each has its pros and cons, and it’s up to the grill master to use his instruments to create a symphony of food.
Grilling is as much about preparing great food as it is tradition. In my family, the dads would gather, beer in hand, around the grill. As one got older, at least in my family, you were allowed to hang around and listen to the dads, uncles and grandfathers shoot the shit. With this cursory grilling lesson would also bring about a sort of maturation including being allowed around man talk, receiving swigs of beer, and being used as runners to get more beer. For thousands of years, man has gathered around the fire to prepare food and talk about bullshit.
Becoming a grill master is no easy task, nor is it something that anyone should take lightly. You are the deputy of the party and it is a labor of love. It takes a lot of research, hard work, finesse, an intimate knowledge of the game and a can-do attitude. I’m lucky that I come from a long line of grill masters. My dad and his brothers were always grilling. I watched intently as they methodically marinated, dry rubbed and monitored the many steaks, wings, burgers, ‘dogs and ribs our family would consume over the years.
Not only is becoming a grill master a difficult task, but it comes with a lot of prestige. Being the “go-to” grill man is a title that is not easily doled out. I have spent countless hours researching different methods, various dry rubs and marinades, studying techniques and tricks and outfitting myself. Luckily, the Mrs. bought me a pretty sweet patriotic apron along with my alma mater’s themed grill kit for this upcoming tailgate season.
A lot of manning the grill is the position itself. You’re the go-to man (or woman in some cases) and the cooler of beer is generally around you. People always stop by to check out what they’ll be eating and love to give a good compliment. In college, I grilled for one of our fraternity tailgates. One of the pledges (and totally not drunk me) forgot a spatula, a greenhorn mistake. Luckily, I fashioned a spatula out of a shotgunned flattened Natty can and pen and no one was any the wiser. Thinking on your feet is one of the pillars of being a grill master.
One of the most important aspects of grilling is being an innovator. Anyone can throw some salt, garlic powder and black pepper on a steak and grill it for whatever Google tells them. Likewise, anyone can make a simple garlic butter and thyme steak and pass it off as genius. Where it gets tricky is upping the game. People respect and cherish those in the pursuit to perfect the art. For me, something I’ve done to set myself apart is the sauce. I make my own sauces for just about any occasion. I tell you what, there’s nothing better than some spicy peach BBQ sauce made fresh from the farmer’s market peaches to go along with that hickory smoked pork.
I am known far and wide for my tailgates, parties and food. I do my research, look for foods that pair well with the event or game and give it a good theme, which makes all of the difference. Many of my friends are also accomplished chefs which adds much value, especially when bouncing ideas off each other and planning different meat-themed events. Having a solid #grillsquad (thanks to Rachel and friends who do this for me) that is dependable but most of all, is on the same page in a culinary sense, changes the game.
Whether it’s for the first game of the season, a killer Fourth of July party or even just because, being a grill master is something that should never be taken lightly. If one decides to venture down this demanding path, put in the time and effort and you will be bountifully rewarded. You’ll make mistakes, burn some meat or serve it a bit more on the rare side, but once you find your groove, your niche, you’ll be well on your way to being a grill master..
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