Chef Jason Roberts

Summer: Barbecues, Grilling and Surfing… Yay!

Chef Jason

G’day Kids,

Wow, here we are in May already and summer is just around the bend! Barbecues, board shorts, bikinis and surfing! Well, maybe cycling this summer since there aren't too many waves to be had for me in NYC.

Here in America, Memorial Day starts the season off--I can’t wait to attend some backyard barbies! Speaking of which, I need to clear up a misconception: There are no "shrimp on the barbie" down under. We grill in OZ (Australia) and we call our shrimp prawns; we don’t barbecue. The only place a shrimp on the barbie was ever mentioned was in the movie Crocodile Dundee with Paul Hogan, then I believe it was also used in a few commercials. Just needed to clear that up. Now, that’s a grill...

One of my most memorable grilling/barbecue experiences was when I first arrived here in America last year. From the moment I landed in Brooklyn, everyone offered advice on where to get the best food. In particular, I heard about Kem and his jerk chicken. Seems there’s this bloke, Kem, who randomly hits the streets of Brooklyn with what everyone says is the best jerk chicken, not only in Brooklyn, but anywhere. He only does it every so often and when he has chicken for sale, he emails folks his location. Without fail, usually within an hour of him setting up his stand, he is sold out. My first two weeks here, all I heard was, “Jason, you’ve got to eat Kem’s jerk chicken.” I heard it from so many and so often, I started dreaming of this chicken at night; I swear I could taste it and smell in my slumber. So the day finally came when I got “THE CALL!" I was finally going to get my taste of this fabled food.

Well, kids, it’s simply the best jerk chicken I have ever eaten, second to none. And it’s true what they say about it. It’s so good, the flavor is in the bones. Wash it down with a “Red Stripe” beer (not gluten-free, sorry) and you're laughing.

I’ve also been to some great places and eaten some great barbecue around the country for The Chew, like my visit to BBQ Queen Melissa Cookson for Memphis Style, and Hill Country Barbecue Market, where Elizabeth Carmel is producing some amazing Texas 'cue in the heart of NYC. This is what I love about true barbecue. It’s worldwide, regional, with varied flavors, methods and textures. I’m sure your family has its grilling secrets too.

If you're grilling at home, when it comes to barbecue, it’s all in the preparation. A successful "barbie" relies on a little planning. The average piece of steak or a set of ribs will generally benefit from a good dry rub or a dose of garlic before they hit the grill.

Here’s a few Tips and Tricks

  • Always keep your grill clean.

  • Steal brush it and wipe it down after each use.

  • Make sure you season those new grills. To season, simply heat the grill to about 200C/400F, then liberally brush all components, grills and flat-tops with vegetable oil and let it go about 15-30 minutes. That should make sure that nothing sticks whilst cooking.

  • Always remember before starting to cook, pre-heat the grill for at least 15 minutes.

  •  Here’s my favorite: Make sure your tank for BBQ has gas in it.

I'll see you 'round the barbie and I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Cheers and happy grilling,