Grilling God: Sang Yoon

LA chef Sang Yoon defends vegetables on the grill, but has yet to master the veggie burger.

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

More than a decade after breaking ground on Father's Office gastropub in Los Angeles, French-trained chef Sang Yoon is still at it, having opened a second location in Santa Monica. The two restaurants serve a signature — and much-loved – burger that was named one of the world's best by Esquire. Yoon is also the guy behind Culver City's Lukshon, a return to fine dining from the chef who got his chops working in kitchens for Joel Robuchon and Wolfgang Puck. We checked in with him to discuss his grilling prowess.

Do you prefer working with gas or charcoal?

I prefer mesquite charcoal. It has great flavor and burns nice and hot.

What is the biggest mistake the home griller can make?

Not resting the meat — cooking meat is all about timing and temperature. Novices tend to keep meat on the grill too long without a rest period to allow indirect cooking.

What is your favorite cut of meat to grill?

Ribeye is my favorite grill cut. The flavor of ribeye is just simply unmatched. The high level of fat marbling keeps the steak moist on a grill.

Can you defend vegetables on the grill?

Absolutely. Grilling makes many vegetables taste better. Adding char to vegetables like corn or eggplant really enhances otherwise boring dishes.

What do you like to drink with your grilled meat?

A stout or porter. I enjoy the deep flavors from intensely roasted malts paired with smoky flavors of grilled foods.

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

A friend's wedding in Italy. They had a whole steer cooked on a giant spit inside a huge trailer. It doesn't get bigger than an entire 1000-pound animal!

What bands are on your grilling soundtrack?

Something chill. Maybe Arcade Fire. Generally tunes that allow for a mellow vibe that doesn't make you want to rush anything.

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

I don't think that veal should be grilled. Veal is prized for its soft delicate flavor. So I think that adding char and smoke is counterintuitive.

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

One's own hands and maybe a short pair of tongs. A good grill cook doesn't need much.

Do you mess with veggie burgers?

Um, no. I'm still not sure how to make a good tasting veggie burger on a grill!

Favorite hamburger blend for the grill?

One hundred percent chuck (with an 80/20 blend). Chuck has it all. It has great flavor and is affordable. You need 20% fat because much of it melts away on a grill. So don't go too lean unless you like dry.

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