Dads are notoriously difficult to shop for, but sometimes the requisite sports book or the annual tie are just too lame. This Father’s Day, encourage your pop to reach his grilling potential by trading in that dusty bag of Kingsford charcoal and greasy, rickety grill for some tools the pros use. Below, see gift recommendations from the country’s leading meat wranglers.
“We use our Robot Coupe processor ($495) to make our spice rubs. It’s great, because you can use it to chop and mix seasonings really well and it saves you so much time. Ours is huge, but you could easily get by with a smaller one at home.”
—Jason Tremblay, Soul Fire Barbecue in Boston
“Avoid that ‘grilling set’ that includes a fork and silly long knife that comes in a specially designed box as if it was a set of dueling pistols. Most importantly, you need a well-made pair of tongs that gives you a firm grasp on whatever you’re grilling. The ones I use are made by Vollrath (from $8).They should be long, at least fifteen inches, have a non-heat conducting handle, and a proper spring device allowing them to open when you relax your grip. Try it out in the store before buying.”
—Jonathan Burrows, chef-owner Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs in Los Angeles
“The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker ($299) is pretty much my favorite thing. When I barbecue at home, this is what I use. Barbecue is all about a consistent temperature: keeping things slow and low. This is one of the best smokers on the market and you can use it to make all kinds of beautiful meats.”
—Andy Husbands, chef-owner Tremont 647 in Boston; team member IQUE BBQ
“Every father needs to have the following grilling essentials: A twenty-pound bag of Nature-Glo Hardwood Charcoal, which is a combination of hickory and oak and burns very hot and clean. Then he’ll need a basting sauce pot and brush from Williams-Sonoma ($29.95), and of course Zeke’s Dry Rub ($5.95). And for the father who has everything, a Milano Arosti Grille from J & R Manufacturing (priced on request). It is a restaurant quality grill-rotisserie combination.”
—Michael Rosen, owner-pitmaster, Zeke’s Smokehouse in Los Angeles
“A knife sharpener ($69.95) is essential for good barbecue. Every morning I trim brisket. In order to get the fat off accurately and without wasting any of the good meat, I need a sharp knife. If it’s not sharp, I might as well be using my hands. I use the old-fashioned kind; a long pointy one called a honing steel.”
—Demetri Botsaris, owner, Phoebe’s Bar-B-Q in Philadelphia
“One of my favorite barbecue devices is a good Weber thermometer. Two of ‘em, actually: an instant-read thermometer ($12.99) that you can put in the meat and get a temperature right away, and a remote thermometer($39.99) that you can use to monitor the temperature while it cooks. I like to cook a lot of loin of pork, chicken, stuff like that, and the worst thing you can do is overcook it. So you insert the probe into the meat, put the meat in your smoker or on the grill, and then you can set the alarm for what temperature you want it to beep at. I like to take my pork out at 140, 145 degrees, so the alarm beeps then when it heats that temperature: ‘Your meat is done! Your meat is done!’ You know, sometimes people get distracted, they walk away, and then twenty minutes they’re like ‘Aah! I forgot the meat!’ With the remote thermometer that never happens.”
—“Big Lou” Elrose, pitmaster, Wildwood Barbeque in New York.
“There’s one thing I use a lot, though I don’t know if I’d recommend it for the everyday backyard barbecue: It’s a weed burner, which is kind of like a flame thrower. You can pick it up at Home Depot, you attach it to a propane tank, and it puts out like 100,000 BTUs of gas. We use it to start our charcoal really fast, rather than using lighter fluid or a chimney starter with newspaper. You just hit the coals with the weed burner for like a minute, and you’re ready to go. It’s sold for home use — just be careful.”
—Robbie Richter, pitmaster, Fatty ‘Cue in Brooklyn