Before flying in to headline the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival—held June 26 through 29 at the West Maui resort—Chef Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post restaurant in Buellton, California, not only packed his bags, he packed his entire grill! The well-weathered iron contraption is outfitted with a crank and pulley that raise or lower the cooking surface—allowing for a masterly response to temperature variations. The traveling grill, just like those at his restaurant, is open on all sides; the air infusion helps balance delicate, smoky flavors.
Ostini insists on a wood fire. Charcoal, he feels, burns too much of the natural oils out of foods. He carted over his choice, a coastline red oak native to his home, but was equally impressed with our kiawe (mesquite). Ostini works his grill systematically. Keeping it hottest in the middle, cooler on the edges, he shuffles a full grate of poultries, meats, and various veggies around like a giant, moving puzzle.
“If it’s there, grill it. That’s my motto.” And he does. “I’ve figured out just about everything but eggs.”
Chef Ostini’s BBQ Tips
Chef Frank Ostini shared these tips at his cooking demonstration at the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival. His restaurant, The Hitching Post in Buellton, California, was featured in the movie, Sideways.a
1. Always start with a clean grill. Burn off rancid oils and debris every time you use the grill.
2. Grease your clean grill with bacon.
3. Start your fire one hour before cooking.
4. Cook hot and clean. Avoid soot and too smoky a flavor by burning wood down to hot bed of coals.
5. Keep meats juicy by turning them often.
6. While grilling, continually baste and season foods by brushing on a simple mixture of oil and vinegar.
7. Use perforated pans to grill smaller vegetables.
8. Grill tender cuts of meat quickly.
9. Grill meat with the grain open (perpendicular to the grates). This way, the heat can open up the meat and give it a better flavor.
10. Bring out a sweeter flavor in onion by grilling it longer at a lower temperature.
11. The hottest area, in the center, should be about 600°, while the edges of the grill can be cooler, at about 400°.
12. Be one with the fire.