For as long as I can remember, my parents have owned the same grill: A red Weber kettle that my grandfather won at a Father’s Day Indians game in the early ‘60s.
When I was growing up, my dad would sit in our backyard, reading a book and waiting for the coals to turn grey. My mom would prepare whatever was being grilled and send me out with the tray, and I would watch my dad carefully place the chicken breasts or burgers on the hot grates and cook them to perfection.
So when my husband and I were talking about buying a grill for our own home, there was no doubt in my mind: It would be a Weber charcoal grill. I know many guys love the thrill of the grill but my husband, the Eagle Scout, had told me one too many stories of campfires that had turned into raging infernos — on purpose — and because I prefer my food grilled, not blackened, I decided to take the helm.
But grilling, I soon learned, is not for the faint of heart. First of all, it takes patience. It’s not something you can do at the spur of the moment and get instant results. You have to plan ahead and leave time to sip a gluten-free cider while you’re waiting.
It takes resourcefulness; when a hot dog slips between the grates, you have to be ready to replace it with some farmers’ market pattypan squash or a meaty slice of Portobello mushroom.
It takes a keen sense of timing; there’s nothing worse than an undercooked burger or an overcooked steak. And it takes a little creativity: Ask my family about our favorite summertime dessert, grilled peaches topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
For this issue’s cover story, I met four local barbecue chefs whose food is an extension of their being. It’s filled with passion, marinated in family history and served with a side of love. And that’s the most satisfying kind of meal you can have.
All the best,