Last week Hubby and I were invited to attend a class at the new Weber Grill Restaurant and Academy that just opened here in St. Louis. The class we attending was Charcoal and Gas Grilling 101 and it rocked! If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that we grill quite often in the Wright household, but even so Hubby and I both learned quite a bit during the hands on class at the Weber Grill Restaurant class. Plus it is a total hands on type of class and we cooked our dinner that night and everything was delicious!
When we pulled up Hubby and I both loved the look of the restaurant with the giant grill on the roof. It is both a regular restaurant and a classroom all inside the large space. You can opt to just sit down and eat a meal they prepare for you or do like we did and take a class where you cook your own food! I took a quick peek at the actual restaurant part but then we headed into the indoor classroom. It was amazing that they had all these different charcoal and gas grills inside and that is where we cooked. While outdoor grilling is awesome, it would be very cool to use one inside all the time!
FYI, this is a perfect date night event I think! Oh and everyone who attends the class gets to keep those nice bright red Weber aprons!
There were eight grills inside the Weber Grill Academy, a mixture of gas and charcoal and different sizes and styles. We were able to pick which ones we wanted to cook on even throughout the evening. I did some things on the charcoal grill, some on the gas grills.
Inside the academy they have a dining area set up for students, a prep area for students, prep station for the chef, all the grills, and of course, lots of product displays of Weber products.
Hubby drooled all over this new Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center grill. I’m sure he would love to have one like this, but I think it might be a little pricey, but maybe for Father’s Day I can get him a new less expensive Weber Charcoal Grill.
While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, Chef Matt prepared us a little appetizer. These are little baby potatoes that he smoked on the grill and then stuffed with sour cream and topped with caviar. Delicious!
The classes are not just handing you a recipe and saying make it, you actually do learn things here. Including, how to properly light a charcoal grill. By the way, no lighter fluid please! It just stinks and people use too much. Instead get one of these charcoal chimneys to get the coals going and then dump into the grill.
One of the first dishes we prepared was salmon. Now normally I do not like salmon, but this was actually so moist and flavorful. I have the recipe at the end of the post for you if you would like to try it yourself. I know that cedar planks you cook on had to be soaked first, but I didn’t know you were supposed to char the side you want to cook on directly on the grill first before applying the food to it. It really adds so much more depth of flavor to the food and just the scent of it while your eating adds to the appeal. We also cut lemons and have and put them on the grill while the salmon was cooking. I always put lemon on fish, but this grilled lemon was ten times better than a regular cold lemon!
Another dish we all prepared was a roast chicken and potatoes – recipe is below – that we cooked on the gas grills. Weber has this really cool pan just for this purpose which works far better than traditional standing chicken cookers. The potatoes went in the pan at bottom and the whole chicken sits upright in the center. Very clever design. You can see Hubby (picture below) working on prepping our chicken. *Side note, I think this photo is funny because on the wall behind Hubby it says “gas valve” – insert your own joke here. LOL.
We also learned that taking the temperature of the chicken at this thick part at the top is more accurate than in other places. Who knew? Like I said, we learned so much while we were having fun at the Weber Grill Academy.
Chef Matt also showed us all how to properly cut up the whole chicken when it was done cooking. I struggle with things like this all the time so I was happy for the in person demonstration.
I have shared several recipes for grilling vegetables here on my blog over the years so I was thrilled to see this on the class list too. We did broccolini which I had never tried grilling before. You can see in the insert of the photo that they had part of the prep work done for us, like blanching the broccolini, chopping the garlic, etc. But then they provide it to us and teach us what else we need to do. Another great tip I learned was to preheat the grilling basket when doing vegetables on the grill. This lets them get that nice charred appearance but you don’t have to cook them so long that they are mushy either.
The next item was supposed to be a London Broil, but when the chef shopped for our products he could not find that cut that day so we used pieces of tri-tip roast instead. The recipe is below as written for London Broil, but use it for this cut as well.
For this cut we did not flip it over during grilling at all either. I was really surprised by this and thought it would be odd, but by the time it was done cooking it was perfect, top and bottom. This was also my favorite meat that we had during class.
Chef Matt even took the time to show everyone about cutting across the grain on the steak instead of with it. I took a photo because I know there are a lot of folks who aren’t aware of this and wonder why things are so tough and chewy – how you slice it makes a huge difference when you eat it!
We ate the different items we cooked throughout the class. You listen a little, prep a little, cook a little, eat a little and then start again. It kept the class fun and interesting at all times. They also gave us all a small recipe booklet that had the recipes from class and lots of extra grilling tips in it as well. I asked permission and was told it was okay for me to share the recipes that were in the booklet with you all here on my blog. Give them a try! Oh, and at the end of class if there are leftovers they package them up for you to take home! This made my son, T, and DIL, Caitlan, very happy that evening!
On the way out I had to have Hubby pose with the statue of Mr. Weber. It was just cool that they had this. Notice Hubby wore one of his grilling t-shirts to class even.
A huge thank you again to the folks at Weber Grill Restaurant and Academy for inviting Hubby and I to try out one of their classes. We definitely will be going back on our own dime even. Right now the only academy is the one here in St. Louis, but there are a few other locations of the Weber Grill Restaurant around and I’m sure more to come.
Again, this was a fabulous evening and if you have the chance make sure you check out the Weber Grill Restaurant and Academy!