Fire up the grill: Toronto chefs dish on barbeque tips for long weekend

Toronto chefs Scott Savoie and Claire Tansey share their best tips and practices as grilling season gets underway with May long weekend.

Toronto chefs Scott Savoie and Claire Tansey share their trips and tricks

Chef Scott Savoie shows off his favourite grilled food for the season. (Adrian Cheung/CBC News)

It's a Canadian past time unlike any other — once the weather warms up and the sun comes out, it's inevitable barbeque grills get fired up. 

With May long weekend underway, Toronto chefs Scott Savoie and Claire Tanney shared the latest trends in barbeque, along with their best tips and trips to help you get the most out of the grilling season. 

Savoie helps lead cooking classes, dinners and tours through St. Lawrence Market with Toronto Food Tours. He's a professional around the grill; admitting to trudging through snow to barbeque even in the dead of winter. 

He says the big trend this year for the grill is behemoth tomahawk steaks. 

Savoie shows off a tomahawk ribeye steak to CBC Toronto's Adrian Cheung, a cut of meat that the professional chef has become popular. (Mark Bochsler/CBC News)

"These steaks the size of your'll need to grill them about eight minutes a side," Savoie said. 

Charcoal or gas? 

But what to grill to them on?

The eternal debate of which kind of grill is better — charcoal or gas — splits even professional chefs. 

Neither Savoie or Tansey would choose propane grills as their first choice. Savoie said "there's nothing like the taste of meat or vegetables cooked over smoky wood" and Tansey said "real charcoal brings real flavour to food."

But both said if what you're looking for is an easy and quick set up to start cooking, the traditional propane gas grill can't be beat. 

"You get flavours off these grills that can't be beat. When you get that little juice that hits the flame to get that sear going, you're not going to get that flavour out of a frying pan," Savoie said. 

'Leave it alone!'

Unlike the choice of grill, when it comes to cooking technique, there's little debate.

Savoie said the key to cooking meat well is simple: let it rest until it gets to room temperature and let the heat do the work. 

"People get stuff on the barbeque and they move it around, toss it and turn it around and make smoke and flames. Leave it alone!"

A full complement of steak, burgers, salmon and veggie skewers for the grill. (Mark Bochsler/CBC News)

Tansey, who will release her first cookbook, Uncomplicated, in October, has a sure fire way to ensure food doesn't stick to the grill. 

"Spray those cooking grates generously with a cooking spray," Tansey recommended. "Or you take a clean rag, dip it in some oil, canola or vegetable oil and just wipe it over your grill grates."​

Both chefs remind home cooks to follow some simple rules: 

  • Pre-heat the grill for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking
  • Always put oil on the grill to prevent sticking
  • Check your propane tank: pour hot water over the tank, whatever remains cold is how much propane remains
  • Don't overstuff the grates with food to avoid burning or undercooking