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Ask a Chef: Craig Tabor’s Last Minute Gifts for Grillers

What is “Ask a Chef?”

Ask a ________ is Grilla Grills new series of blog posts where we will ask pitmaster’s, chef’s, brewers, distillers and other grill/food enthusiasts about some of our favorite topics. We’ll cover everything from favorite foods, old school recipe’s, gift ideas, personal stories and everything in between.

This time, we’re talking with Professional Chef Craig Tabor! Craig is a chef playing the role of a backyard BBQ warrior. His slogan, ‘there isn’t anything I won’t grill’ is a dead-on representation of how he approaches outdoor cooking. Craig has mastered the BBQ staples, but his skill and commitment to all foods coal-fired extends to chef-inspired dishes.

Top 5 Best Kitchen and Grilling Gifts

Quality Cast Iron Pan

The first gift on our list is one of the most versatile and useful cooking apparatus you can purchase! A quality cast iron pan should be the foundation of any prospective chef’s kitchen. They can be used on the stove top, over a camp fire and especially on a grill. Cast iron cookware is a grillers friend and will enhance your grilling experiences by allowing you to cook non-traditional meals your grill.

“Some of the meals you can cook in cast iron cookware could be deep dish pizza, braised beef ribs, drunken mussels, mac & cheese, chili, biscuits, soups and it could even be used to fry things “

Craig Tabor

Cast iron has evolved over the last 10 years which has yielded new foundries all over the US. A 12” skillet can range from $19 to $199 depending on whether you want an everyday user or a family heirloom.

Another benefit to using cast iron is the versatility the medium provides. You can cook anything from bacon for breakfast, risotto for lunch, vegetables for dinner and brownies for dessert on it.

Meat Slicers

Craig says that it is becoming more and more common for people to cure their own meats at home. Bacon, pastrami and all different kinds of charcuterie can be done at home if you’ve got the right equipment and a little bit of know-how. So why not pick up a nice meat slicer for your loved one.

“If you’ve got mad ninja slicing skills, a sharp knife can get the job done. However, a meat slicer can get a more consistent product.”

Craig Tabor

Meat slicers range in price anywhere from $79, all the way up to over a $1,000 for a commercial version. Craig’s advice is to find one that is made of all metal, with at least a 10” blade. Like everything in life, you get what you pay for, but he thinks you should be able to score a solid unit in the $300 range that will last a lifetime.

High Quality Cuts of Meat

Going hand-in-hand with our last gift, high quality cuts of meat can make any kitchen lovers face light up with joy. Craig said that if your loved one already has all the gizmos and gadgets they may need in the kitchen, get them something you can never have enough of, meat!

“In my household, we skip the restaurants and always use holidays and special occasions as a chance to splurge on something that we wouldn’t normally buy or cook. Some proteins are wicked expensive so it makes it difficult to splurge on a normal Wednesday night meal.”

Craig Tabor

Craig said some ideas or options could be a wagyu brisket, tomahawk ribeye, heritage pork or some cured meat. Become friends with your butcher and they will open up a whole new world to their offerings besides what is in the case. He said there are quite a few online specialty shops that offer cuts as these and will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Pepper Mills

One of the most simple gifts, but also one of the most useful is a pepper mill. As Craig said, basically everything American’s cook has at least some pepper in it, so this is a tool that will get used nearly every day.

“Nearly every recipe on the face of the planet calls for fresh ground black pepper.”

Craig Tabor

Pepper mills come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and have almost become works of art. Find one or have one made that fits your grillers personality and they will love it. 

Grilling Gloves

The final gift on Craig’s list is something everyone has, but also something everyone could use more of. Obviously in the kitchen, and when grilling, you’re going to have to handle a bevy of super hot pans and pots and everything else you can imagine. Get your loved one some grill gloves they can use comfortably, that will last them a long time and look better than the hand-me-downs they’re probably still using from their first house.

Pick Up Some Grill Gloves

“Common sense would tell you that everything we touch while grilling or smoking will be HOT. Keep your grilling hands protected with a good set of insulated grilling gloves.”

Craig Tabor

Craig said lots of folks use leather welding gloves, which in he says actually burn your hands. They work for the first couple seconds, but as you hold something hot the heat burns through and the leather actually retains the heat.

Craig opts for more of a heat resistant mitt style glove. The mitt is flexible, usually has grippy texture and does a great job resisting the heat and keeping your hands safe. He said you can find a quality set for $15-$30.

Still have a few bucks leftover in the budget, after picking up a french press? Why not pick up a couple grate grippers from the Grilla Grills store. It will do everything your grill gloves do, and keep your hands clean at the same time!

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