Grilling God: Jenn Louis On Being An Opportunivore This BBQ Season

Jenn Louis has racked up several accolades in an impressive culinary career. Twice a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Northwest, the Portland native was named Food & Wine's "Best New Chef" of the region in 2012. The chef and co-owner of the city's popular Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern restaurants also took her turn competing on Top Chef Masters last summer. Her approach to grilling is rather simple, however. Describing herself as an "opportunivore" (it means pretty much exactly what it sounds like), Louis wrote in to let us know what she'll be cooking to celebrate Portland's two – yes two – annual months of sunshine.

Do you prefer working with gas or charcoal?

I prefer charcoal, if I am cooking over an open flame. I like the flavor and the intensity of charcoal heat.

What is the biggest mistake the home griller can make?

Having too hot of coal – you must let the coals die down a little, then add a few pieces of charcoal to keep the heat going. This helps adjust and control the heat based on what you are grilling.

What is your favorite cut of meat to grill?

HA, I'm an opportunivore! I'm pretty happy with mostly everything on the grill. Some of my favorites to grill at home are whole quail, flank steak and brined pork chops. I am also a sucker for a pimentón and salt-rubbed beer can chicken.

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

I catered a Vietnamese wedding for 150 people and roasted a whole pig. It was a great time.

How do you grill vegetables?

Simple. I put olive oil, sea salt and pepper over everything and sometimes herbs from the garden to finish. I always grill more vegetables than we can eat, so we have leftovers for lunch the next day.

What do you like to drink with your grilled meat?

Wine, margaritas, Negronis and bourbon.

What's the grill scene like in Portland?

It's huge. We have rain for 10ish months out of the year, then blissful sunshine for two. Everyone grills for those two months.

In terms of barbecue, do you have a favorite region in the United States?

I haven't had much that I don't like!

Check out Grilling Month coverage on Food Republic:

  • Introducing The Food Republic Titans Of Grilling
  • Grilling God: José Enrique Loves Oily Fish, Wants You To Invest In A Caja China
  • City Grills: 7 Smart Designs For A Better Urban BBQ Experience