Coffee With Sam: Chef Ted Reader Speaks On Grilling

I recently had the opportunity to have a virtual cup of coffee and chat with Ted Reader, chef, barbecue guru, and cookbook author extraordinaire. Ted has set the world record for the largest hamburger ever grilled and is the celebrity spokesperson for food companies like McCain and TGI Friday’s. So, Ted? What’s for dinner?

Ted Reader: Well that changes every day. Today I am preparing beer can chicken for my family. Last night was smoked and beer braised pork shanks, and on Monday I did grilled roasted duck breast and Kobe rib steak. It’s different every day when I am home. I love to cook and create delicious recipes for my family and friends. 

Samantha Feuss: Um, that was a not-so-subtle hint that I wanted a dinner invitation. I just wanted to let you know that chatting with you is making me hungry—which isn’t very fair, LOL. I’m on a diet! Any options you can share with me, that don’t taste like mud? My husband is trying to lower his cholesterol, and I am just trying to lower my…! What do you recommend?

Ted Reader: I am a big guy and love food and love to eat. It is about portion control. Eat until you are full and eat frequently throughout the day but just a little each time. It is hard to do. 50% green vegetables steamed as they are and then the rest can be protein and a starch if you desire.
I try and eat healthy but it can be tricky when in the food business. I find it a constant battle but a fun battle too

SF: I hear you. No one gets to be “big boned” because they hate food, ay? I love the titles of your new books. What inspired you to write them?

TR: I love writing and sharing my recipes with everyone. I have no secrets and the inspiration comes from the food and the fact that i like to have fun. I believe people want to have a little more fun in life. We get overworked and are overtired quite often and having some fun is an important balance. The titles are to be fun and inspirational so that you get in your backyard and grill or smoke or BBQ something tasty.

SF: At pretty much every BBQ I have ever been to, there is both cooked meat, and beer flowing. Did that naturally lead to cooking with beer?

TR: exactly. I recall when I lived in an apartment my neighbor would always be grilling up his dinner and there was always a beer in his hand. He would take a sip and then drizzle a little over the meat and voila he had dinner. He was the inspiration and the catalyst to get me thinking of pairing beer and bbq. They are the perfect match to get any backyard BBQ going.

SF: You said your favorite food was—and I quote: “Charcoal Grilled Steak (to be a little more specific, 2-inch thick, 28+ dry aged Bone-In NY Strip Steak, grilled Rare, Bone-In Rib Steak about 2 inches thick grilled medium rar,e and Bone- In Filet grilled rare. Topped with either lobster or fois gras, and I’m in heaven).” Barring yourself cooking it- where do you prefer to get this meal of all meals?

TR: There are few and far between places that I get a steak the way I want but my top favorite steaks come from David Burke’s Prime Steakhouse (I like the Chicago location best) Zorro’s steakhouse in Toronto as they grill over charcoal and its old school style steakhouse and I have always been a fan of Peter Luger’s Steakhouse in Brooklyn NY. I love a good steak but truly the best steak comes from my backyard and I always enjoy making it myself.

SF: Of all your recipes, which is your favorite?

TR: That is a hard question to answer. I have so many favorites. A family favorite is beer can chicken. Crispy outside, moist and tender inside. Charcoal grilled steak, smoked brisket or pork shoulder rock too. It depends on my mood as to what I cook but if I were to pick a favorite from my Beerlicious Cookbook it would be the Duvel Planked Beef Wellington. I think this recipe is wickedly delicious. I also love the bacon wrapped beer butter injected scallops.

SF: Do you have a “go-to” smoker or grilling recipe for BBQ parties or get-togethers? (Yes, please save me, I can’t choose what to make this weekend!)

TR: I have approximately 65 grills and smokers in my back yard. I use to have 109 but I have purged a few. I keep 20 grills and smokers on my main back deck and they are the ones I use regularly. I love my Napoleon Gemini Grill as it makes my grilling life fast easy and delicious. I love my Kamado cookers (Big Green Egg, Primo and Big Steel Keg), I like my off set barrel smoker, my 40 inch Weber charcoal kettle and my Horizon barrel smoker. But my favourite method is to cook over an open wood burning fire. The flavor is amazing and the old style rustic method of cooking is truly the best way to go. It’s harder to do and more challenging and when done well the results are delicious.

SF: 65 grills and smokers? Do I need to call “Intervention” on you? I want a picture of that. So, you’re Canadian, ay? Sorry, I couldn’t resist, LOL. What is it like being a barbeque king in such a cold place? I normally associate barbeques with summer.

TR: It’s “Canadian, Eh!” I am a Canadian, and I grill and smoke year round. Anytime, anyplace, any weather and on any grill or smoker I live to BBQ. I am inspired by the fire and the smoke and the flavor. Canada is not that cold, at least not here in Toronto, and for warm weather well that’s just too easy. Throw a little nasty weather into the mix and it becomes more challenging, more fun and your beer is always cold.

SF: No refrigerator required! Do you have any easy tips to help regular people become masters of the pit themselves?

TR: Of course.

Patience is very important.

High heat lid open, low heat lid closed.

A clean grill or smoker is a healthier grill or smoker.

Have fun.

Enjoy life and in the end as long as it tastes good you have done a great job.

Never leave your grill or smoker once you have started to cook. Like in the military never leave your post.

Be patient.

SF: So I’m guessing you consider yourself a patient person? I saw that you will be at the Best BBQ Chef Competition in New London Waterfront Park, New London, Connecticut. Who is your biggest competition?

TR: I was not competing here. Just guest BBQ entertainer. I do not compete I eat. I live life to the fullest and find that enjoying what i do is more important than competing. My job is to inspire people to get in their back yards and cook something wonderful. Make life tasty. It’s the food that inspires me.

About Chef Ted Reader

Ted Reader is an award-winning chef and food entertainer, who has parlayed his passion for food into a culinary tour de force that includes more than a dozen cook books, shelves of food products, live culinary performances, TV and radio cooking shows and appearances as well as culinary demonstrations, a catering company and teaching.

Known for his pyrotechnic charm and fearless culinary spirit, it’s no surprise that GQ magazine labeled him the “crazy Canuck barbecue kingpin.” The dude just loves to cook!

Ted’s quest for creating “real food for real people” has seen this high-profile culinary barbecue guru demonstrate his flair for grilling in all venues from swanky ball rooms to the Pacific Ocean to a downtown Toronto parking lot. Today, he owns more than 100 barbecues, grills and smokers in all shapes and sizes and never goes anywhere without one in the back of his truck.

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