Grilling God: Rick Tramonto

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Acclaimed chef Rick Tramonto has worked at Restaurant R'evolution since 2010.

May is Grilling Month at Food Republic, where we are offering pro tips from chefs and other well-known grilling gods.

Related: The Great Grilling Month Giveaway

There is no doubt that Rick Tramonto knows what he is doing on the grill. A past winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest, the chef left Chicago in 2010 to become Executive Chef and Partner of New Orleans' Cajun and Creole fine dining concept Restaurant R'evolution, which features an extensive steaks and chops section, as well as a unique grilling temperature guide. We caught up with the former Top Chef: Masters contestant for the latest installment of our Grilling God series.

Do you prefer working with gas or charcoal?

Charcoal in the summer, gas in the winter. In Chicago we grill all year 'round.

What is the biggest mistake the home griller can make?

Not letting their steaks or meats rest 5-8 minutes after they remove them from the grill. This insures that all of the juices can stay intact.

What is your favorite cut of meat to grill?

I love ribeye because it has so much marbling and fat to it — thick cut, 20 ounces and bigger. I also love steaks that have the bone on them for flavor and presentation. Bone-in filets are great because of the thickness, and you can get a great char. When I have large groups, I like to do my signature Tomahawk steak, which is a 40-ounce lollipop-cut, bone-in ribeye that is in my Steak with Friends book. That always seems to get the crowd's attention!

What are the best vegetables on the grill?

I like corn soaked in water in the husk and grilled on low with herb butter to finish. I also like zucchini, thick long cut and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic. The grill should be hot and well-oiled. Put it on the hot spot and cook quickly. Charring it a little still keeps it crunchy. Finish with a little chopped mint before serving.

What's the best way to cook vegetables on the grill?

It's a simple approach any at-home chef can master: toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic, and grill them at low to medium parts of the grill.

What do you like to drink with your grilled meat?

Big reds. Preferably, Italian big reds!

What's the most epic barbecue you have ever thrown, or been to?

White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, cooked by chef John Folse. The BBQ involved a whole roasted pig over an open fire hearth, a whole red fish, big kettles of crawfish boil dumped out on a table covered in newspaper and raw oysters as far as the eye could see. There was also seafood gumbo, grilled sausages, roasted porchetta, and boudin, fried jumbo frog legs, baskets of cracklins' and the list goes on! Great Louisiana music and lots of beer and wine.

What bands are on your grilling soundtrack?

Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Rush.

What is the worst food item you have seen thrown on the grill?


Most useful piece of grilling gear you have purchased or used?

Long tongs.

Any burger secrets?

Stuff the burger with garlic herb compound butter.

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