I didn’t always love to barbecue but I loved what came from it.  Grilling wasn’t part of my New York chef school training. I grew up in a pretty traditional home with a mom who’s an incredible cook and a dad who takes his barbecuing seriously.  I had been spoiled with barbecue dinners 365 days a year, so as a single mom, I had to roll up my sleeves and teach myself (along with some plumbing, electrical and fix it work) to master the grill in all weather.  Now I’m at home on the grill, watch out Rob Rainford and Ted Reader!


Step 1 – you aren’t going to burn the house down.  I’m going to assume most of you urban dwellers are not using charcoal.  Learn how to change the propane tank.

1.     Turn the tank off (look at the arrows!) and turn the knobs off.

2.     Unscrew it.

3.     Screw the new one on.

4.     That’s it. 

Oh, you need to go to the gas station to get new ones, and always have a spare. If you love old school charcoal, you need time. Channel your inner camper and tend to your fire.  Summer at the cottage is the perfect time to experiment with charcoal and enjoy the smoky flavoured ritual. For more, read New York Times' food guru Sam Sifton’s article on choosing charcoal or gas.

Step 2 – Clean it. Would you cook your eggs in a dirty pan?  With the heat on, use a scrub brush every time before you grill, and don’t forget to empty the catch all underneath.

Step 3 – Have your proteins on stand by at room temperature, don’t jolt them from the fridge.

Step 4 – Balance the touch and feel with the approximate time it should take.  Fish is under 10 minutes per inch of thickness where as a thick boneless leg of lamb will take 30 minutes or so.  Touch it: a gentle touch of the steak will tell how done it is. If it feels like the inside of your thumb when relaxed, it’s rare. If it feels like the top of your hand, pour them a drink and load up on veggies because that meat is well done.

Step 5 – Factor in the time you need to let your protein rest and the juices recess. Carving right away will let the moisture and flavour escape.

Step 6 – Now that local veggies are sprouting up and in abundance, throw everything on the barbecue, including radicchios and lettuces to asparagus. Regardless of weather and menu, cook outside.




RECIPE: Grilled Lettuces (SERVES 4)


4 heads endive

2 heads radicchio

3 tbsp (50 mL) olive oil

2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp (2 mL) hot pepper flakes

Salt and black pepper to taste


1.     Preheat grill to medium.

2.     Cut endives in half. Cut radicchio in quarters. Carefully brush lettuces with oil.

3.     Grill lettuces, turning once, for 6 to 8 minutes or until crispy and just turning brown. Remove to a platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with hot pepper flakes and salt and black pepper; gently toss.

4.     Serve immediately.

Looking for grilling inspiration? Find cookbooks and more at The shop is always open.