There is grilling and then there is knowing what you are doing while grilling. There’s a big difference. Anyone can turn on a barbecue on high heat and char a steak. But how much more enjoyable would be the barbecue experience be if you had graduated from grilling class?
The Weber Grill Academy in Vaughan, Ont. is a three-hour, interactive barbecue class led by Weber Grill masters Michael Clive and Damien Chong. Students grill on gas and charcoal grills to create meals complete with dessert. They learn to brine and make spice rubs for beef, poultry and pork, and learn the finer points of grilling, roasting, baking and smoking.
Clive says students who come to his program are quite motivated to up their game.
“People’s interest and understanding of food today is pretty sophisticated to begin with,” he says.
The most common mistake people make coming into the program is lifting the lid of the barbecue too often. The temptation is always there to look in on your food. Knowing the cook time and having patience is key.
“Looking isn’t cooking,” Clive says.
“Keep the lid down until it’s time to flip your foods or until the food is near doneness. Keeping the lid down traps in the heat and delicious flavours. People tend to flip the food too much. In mostly all cases, foods only need to be flipped once during grill time.”
Students learn tips and tricks to ensure grilling success, such as how to light a charcoal grill, use the right grilling accessories and perfect direct and indirect cooking methods.
Clive says he grew up in an environment where there was a lot of barbecuing. His parents would often invite over friends and family to entertain and chill around the grill. That’s where he got the barbecue bug.
“It comes as no surprise that my favourite style of food has always been grilled food,” he says.
The Weber Grill Adademy opened in 2014. Becoming a Weber Grill Master involves thousands of hours of grill time and extensive training, so students have the benefit of learning from a pro.
The three-hour class costs $125 per person. Students get to eat their grilled creations from the class and take home leftovers.
The Mobile Grill Academy offers 32 classes in cities across the country.
Barbecue events in southern ontario this summer
JUNE 21 TO 22:
The community of Ayr, Ont., southwest of Cambridge, hosts the The Ayr Charity BBQ, which includes a certified barbecue judge class in which participants learn how to judge a barbecue. Part of the judging process is tasting chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. ayrcharitybbq.com
AUG. 9 TO AUG. 11:
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ in Toronto, at the Grounds at Hotel X, combines the best in barbecue and beverages. Enjoy craft beers, bourbon cocktails and see more than 20 vendors from across Ontario compete for the Best Barbecue Title. beerbourbonbarbecue.ca
AUG. 9 TO AUG. 11:
The County of Haliburton hosts the Haliburton Ribfest at Head Lake Rotary Park and will include rib teams from Alabama and Oklahoma. Barbecue smoked ribs will be available to taste along with other festival food. There will be children’s entertainment and live music. ontariofestivalgroup. com/event/haliburton- ribfest
For those who aren’t into grilling and barbecuing themselves, or who can’t wait for a ribfest or barbecue event coming up, the province offers thousands of restaurants that specialize in barbecue. There is probably one near you. For instance, In Alliston, Ont., northwest of Toronto, Peake Barbecue specializes in Texasstyle barbecue, especially brisket, cooking theirs for 12 or more hours in oak and maple smoke. Peake sources much of their produce locally. Why not try to explore your local barbecue offerings this summer?
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