How to Become a Grill MasterTips From Award Winning Chef Gadbaw of Marea
Recently, ModernLook sat down to chat with Chef Jared Gadbaw on his rise to celebrity status as Executive Chef of New York City’s Marea, of the Altamarea Group. Chef Gadbaw has worked in many other fine dining establishments, including Django, Eleven Madison Park, and Esca. Since it is grilling season, and many have tried and failed to master this pinnacle of manliness, we decided to pick his brain, pick up a few tips, and learn more about the young chef’s rise to the top.
ModernLook: Tell us a bit about your passion for your food and how you got to where you are now in the culinary world.
Jared Gadbaw: I am the product of an uninspired student with a good work ethic, and an early desire to eat well. I became Executive Chef at Marea through years of preparation and random dumb luck.
ML: We definitely share that love of good food! So tell us: How does one go about choosing the perfect cut of meat for grilling?
JG: I always look for marbling in anything I’m cooking. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a brisket for hours or chops for minutes; you absolutely need that fat to ensure a delicious product.
ML: What’s the most important pre-grilling step in ensuring a juicy piece of meat?
JG: Again, marbling. I rarely marinate any protein for grilling. Season everything with the proper amount of salt and maybe pepper, if you like that sort of thing. If the meat you are cooking has some fat in it, there is no need to add extra oil as it will only flare up and may cause you to burn it too quickly.
ML: What utensils should every grill master have on hand?
JG: Tongs, grill brush, spatula for fish and maybe a brush.Never use a fork.
ML: How can a person maximize the space on a smaller grill for the same succulent results?
JG: The key to grilling, and cooking in general, is always temperature. If you have a small grill, you can’t over-crowd it. Do things in batches and prepare any vegetables you may have to be served room temperature so that you can get those out of the way first, and focus on the protein when you are ready.
ML: Not everyone is a fan of a bloody steak, but burning is a definite don’t! How do you work the grill to make sure that everything is cooked to guest specifications?
JG: I usually keep one side on a lower flame in case the food achieves the proper char that I want before it is done cooking. You can move it out of the direct heat until you hit the desired temperature.
ML: What are the pros and cons of charcoal versus propane grilling?
JG: Charcoal has more flavor, but is harder and takes longer to prepare.
ML: We know that you’re a fan of marbling, but inquiring minds wanna know: What’s the secret to a great marinade?
JG: I’m not really into marinades but I do like a good lemon-pepper chicken. Lots of lemon zest, cracked pepper, olive oil and microplaned garlic. Something to consider in marinades is how much sugar you are adding. It will make the meat caramelize faster. Don’t use too much oil because it will cause flare ups that may blacken your goods.
ML: What’s the biggest grilling faux pas?
JG: Cutting into a piece of meat to check for doneness. Always let your meat rest for about 10 minutes before cutting. Use a thermometer or a metal cake tester to check for doneness. Put the tester in the center of the beef, if it is warm (not hot) to your lip, it is medium rare.
ML: Clearly, grilling is a skill that requires more than just a grill and some marinade! What’s the most goof-proof cut of meat, for beginners?
JG: Probably skirt steak. It’s so thin and fatty that it will be tasty even if it goes a little over.
ML: Any other tricks to mastering the ancient art of grilling meat?
JG: Practice. Learn where your hot spots are on the grill and control the temperature of the grill. Too hot or too cold and you could be in trouble.
ML: Can we talk about where you work? What’s the scoop?
JG: Sure. Marea is an Italian seafood restaurant in NYC and we’re a fairly popular place. I am lucky to be able to work with so many talented chefs who continue to make it such a special place to eat and work. Come check us out next time you’re in the city!
ML: Bragging is certainly welcome; tell us some of the awards you’ve won.
JG: My wife, Abby, says I’m in the running for husband of the year! Let’s hope I don’t screw it up.
ML: Well good luck this year, but we know you are being modest about your work. A little birdie told us that you have contributed to Marea’s 2 Michelin Stars, 2010 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the United States, and 3 stars from The New York Times, as well as being the highest rated Italian restaurant in Zagat. Congrats! Now that we know all about your work what are some of your interests outside of the kitchen?
JG: Gardening has been my latest interest. I have a special little urban garden on the Bowery. All the rain we have gotten here has made for a great season so far. I post a lot of pics of food and my garden on my Instagram: @jaredgadbaw.
Thanks for sitting down and talking with us! Now we are ready to become the Grill Master’s of 4th of July with some our Modern Grills we have found! Happy Birthday ‘Merica!
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