Top Chef Shares His Tips for Killing It on the Grill, and Avoiding the Mistake Everyone Makes

Kwame Onwuachi has been called a “rock star redefining the industry'" (by Zagat D.C.), and anointed a fan favorite on Top Chef  Season 13, where he impressed the judges week after week with his bold, inventive cuisine. Kwame, who has worked at New York City's Per Se and traveled the world as a chef, also happens to know a thing or two about grilling. Here, he shares his tips and recipes for the perfect Memorial Day grill-fest with The Feast.

First, a few basic but crucial tips:

1.  Prep your protein before you start the grilling process

Kwame recommends marinating your meat before your grill it (check out his jerk marinade recipe below), but even more important: “Always bring your meats to room temperature before you grill them!" says Kwame. "This will help steaks and fish cook more evenly."

2.  Have the proper grilling tools on hand

The right tools can make all the difference. Kwame likes to use “a pastry brush or painting brush for basting the meats with sauce as you cook.” Another key item: “A spray bottle filled with water handy to extinguish flame-ups."

3.  Keep an eye on your heat

Be aware of the temperature differences in various areas on your grill. “Knowing your hot spots is very important. It will leave less char and keep things cooking consistently,” says Kwame. The biggest grilling mistake novices make, according to Kwame? “Getting your grill too hot." Here's how not to burn all your ingredients: “Make sure to test your grill with one piece of meat or a vegetable before you add everything and ruin it all,” says Kwame.

And now for some recipes. Kwame shared two of his grilling favorites with The Feast: a spicy marinade that can also be brushed on during the grilling process for extra punch, and a deliciously unique grilled-grape salad with spicy chilies.

Spicy Jerk Marinade

Ingredients:

1 cup green onion, chopped

1/2 cup parsley

6 tablespoons Worcestershire

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons thyme, picked

1 teaspoon allspice

3 bay leaves

5 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 habanero chili pepper

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

1 teaspoon ground cloves

Place everything into blender and puree until smooth.

Grilled Grape Salad with Avocados and Chilies

Ingredients:

2 cups green grapes

2 cups red grapes

2 cups olive oil

2 avocados, halved and pitted

3 green chilies

1 cup white grape juice

½ cup apple cider vinegar

Salt to taste

4 cups baby spinach

½ red onion, sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 red Fresno chili, sliced

Skewer all grapes and grill until charred and blistered. Reserve and cool, then remove from skewers.

Rub a little of the olive oil on the flesh side of the avocado; season with salt and grill for 2 minutes. Remove, cool, and dice.

To make the vinaigrette, combine green chilies, grape juice and vinegar in a blender and blend on high. Drizzle in remaining olive oil and season with salt.

Toss grapes, spinach, avocados, red onions, and tomatoes with the vinaigrette. Top with toasted seeds and sliced red chilles and serve.

 

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