BY MARK KEAST

Not all of us can match the experience and expertise of Chef Ted Reader when the topic is barbequing the perfect steak. Ted is an award-winning chef and author, known to many barbequing enthusiasts as the “Godfather of the Grill.”  All we can do is aspire to those heights.

It’s really interesting to watch how outdoor barbequing in condo-infused downtown Toronto has fast become an integral part of the lifestyle. Not too long ago the conversation around condos and outdoor grilling was only about how it wasn’t allowed in most places. Now developers are ensuring that areas for outdoor grilling are built into their amenity offerings.

Barbeque manufacturers are coming out with smaller grills for the balcony, and more sophisticated indoor barbecue options.

With that in mind, and with the holidays fast approaching, we reached out to Chef Ted for gift ideas for the steak-loving barbeque fanatic in your inner circle:

Dry-aging bags. “I have done some research on them, and I have seen them used in meat-processing before on an industrial level,” he says. “They do work. If you want to add a little bit of age to your steak, as opposed to going out and buying a dry-aging fridge, getting the humidity just right and all the others factors that come into play, then these bags eliminate all your problems. You vac-pack them. And then it’s rock and roll.”

Dry-aging steaks make them taste more flavourful (when aged properly), especially if you splash on some bbq sauce, or a rub, and top it all off with grilled asparagus and mashed potatoes. There is never any time during the year when that isn’t a good idea.

Steak thermometer. “A lot of people have problems cooking steak at the right internal temperature,” Ted says. “There is this German company called SteakChamp. It’s a thermometer you insert into the thick part of the steak, and the light flashes when it’s rare, medium or well done. It’s a good thermometer. At the bare minimum a really good thermometer is important.”

Steak rub. “That’s got to be on your Christmas hit list,” he says. “It’s awesome.” Rubs are loaded with flavour. Ted’s Bonedust Steak rub has coarsely ground black pepper, onion, garlic, coriander, and a hint of dill.

The ultimate butcher knife. “My favourite is one from F. Dick Canada – Red Spirit. It’s a butcher’s knife. One, it’s super sharp. Two, it fits perfectly in your hand and it’s well-balanced. It cuts meat beautifully. It’s for big cooking. If you want to buy a whole striploin or a rib eye, and you put it in that dry-aging bag, and you age for another two weeks, you take this knife to cut your perfect steak.”

Go to your butcher and get a perfect steak. “Don’t settle for grocery store counter or trade-pack beef,” Ted says. “Go to a butcher. It’s important.”

Kamado cooker. “I am working now with a Slow ‘N Sear kamado grill,” he says. “I have been working with it since the middle of July. I have used it quite a bit. I am having a lot of fun with the Slow ‘N Sear. Their internal apparatus, which adds humidity into the kamado, is really a great thing. It does some great stuff.”

“If you are going to cook a steak cook it over charcoal, and invest in some good charcoal. There are a few out there that I am liking right now. At Barbeques Galore they have a Buffalo brand charcoal and it comes in hickory, mesquite, oak. And all three are great. There is another out there, Fogo charcoal, and the next is the Jealous Devil. All of those are my favourite for cooking with.”

Head to Chef Ted Reader’s e-commerce site for books and his product line of sauced and BBQ rubs.