Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby
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Tools of the Trade

1) The Grill Itself - Go for the covered option, because with the cover available, you can not only grill, but also do some lower-heat cooking, like smoke-roasting and even a relatively close approximation of barbecuing. Whatever type of grill you prefer, the prime directive is the same: Get yourself the one with the largest possible grilling surface. That way, you will have more room to build a two-level fire and more flexibility in moving food around from hotter to cooler spots as you grill.

2) Heavy-duty, long-handled, spring-loaded tongs - Tongs act like an extra pair of hands, with the added advantage that they don't get burned. Use them to put food on the grill, move it around while it's cooking, pick it up to check for doneness, and take it off the grill, all without dropping anything or burning your arms.

3) Stiff wire brush - One of the nice things about grilling is that you use no pots or pans, so you have very little cleanup when the meal is over. But you do need to keep your grill surface clean, and this is the tool for the job.

4) Disposable foil pans - They are excellent for transporting raw ingredients from kitchen to grill and cooked ingredients from grill to table. Despite their name, they can be washed and reused many times over.

5) Kitchen towels - Those inexpensive white cotton kitchen towels you can buy in restaurant supply stores in batches of twenty or so are very handy for picking up hot dishes or skewers, and it is a lot quicker to grab a couple of towels than to fit your hand into a mitt. They are also very useful for wiping up spills of all sorts and generally keeping your grill area clean and tidy.

6) Beverage of choice - this might be the most important grilling tool of all.


Chris Schlesinger grew up in Virginia and, at age eighteen, dropped out of school to wash dishes. He soon graduated to fry cook, went on to receive his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America, and subsequently cooked in restaurants ranging from Hawaiian burger joints to New England's finest dining rooms. In 1985, he and partner Cary Wheaton opened the East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in 1987, they opened Jake and Earl's Dixie Barbecue next door.

John Willoughby was born and raised in Iowa and graduated form Harvard University in 1970. He has worked as a community organizer, legal services advocate, health administrator and free-lance writer in the Boston area, and for three years worked part-time with Chris Schlesinger in the kitchen of the East Coast Grill. He has published articles about food in several national magazines and is the feature writer for Cook's Magazine.


   Published: 1999