One true sign of summer is the sight of family and friends gathered around a smoke-bellowing grill in the backyard. And though you know folks who’ll fire up the pit at the slightest hint of pleasant weather, grilling isn’t the easiest task in the world to execute properly. In fact, if you’re anything like our chicken-burning editors, you can use some help in making your next outing truly cook. Fortunately, we found six weekend classes around the nation for chefs of all levels. Hone your skills in time for your Fourth of July bash at these spots.
Culinary Institute of America Grilling and BBQ Boot Camp
To get the real barbecue experience from the some of the top culinary instructors in the business, check out the boot camps offered at all three Culinary Institute of America campuses (though the one in St. Helena, Calif. is currently sold out). These are fun, but intensive, classes where you even dress the part in your own CIA chef’s uniform. The two-day barbecue boot camps teach you the simplest techniques—like how to grill the perfect steak—but you’ll also learn about hot smoking and barbecuing; brines, rubs, marinades and sauces; and the best equipment and tools for the grill. $895, May 20-21, Hyde Park, New York Campus; $895, July 1-2, San Antonio, Texas Campus.
If you want to learn from one of the best, consider grand champion pitmaster Konrad Haskins’ BBQ Institute. Barbecue is part of his upbringing—he grew up watching his grandfather cook whole steer on the spit in South Africa from the time he was just 5 years old. He’s been teaching classes at his BBQ Institute in Texas since 2006, but it’s his Premier Pitmaster Class where barbecue fans head out for a weekend to Washington state’s McKinley Springs Winery (it’s about three hours from Seattle and two-and-a-half from Spokane) to learn barbecue techniques from A to Z, including how to barbecue with wine. $600, June 1-2, McKinley Springs Winery.
The Broadmoor BBQ University
You might not think of Colorado when you think barbecue, but Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs hosts one of the premier courses. Steven Raichlen, an expert on live-fire cooking, author of eight barbecue books (including The Barbecue Bible and his newest Secrets of the World’s Best Grilling) and host of two PBS series Primal Grill and Barbecue University, teaches the classes. During the three-day course, you’ll learn about grilling, smoking, charcoal, and more, and you’ll barbecue using a variety of different methods, including direct grilling, indirect grilling, rotisserie and straight on the coals. $1,996.50 (including accommodations and daily meals), June 5-7 or June 9-11, The Broadmoor.
Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore BBQ 101
Executive chef Oliver Beckert’s The Art of Grilling Class: BBQ 101 at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore is a fun way to kick off the summer barbecue season. Beckert, who is originally from Germany, demonstrates a variety of barbecuing and tailgating techniques, as well as barbecue and drink pairings. Graduates of the class will receive a specially embroidered Four Seasons “Today I am the Chef!” apron and recipe book to take home. $65, June 13, 6:30 p.m., 5th floor Harbor Terrace.
North Carolina Barbecue Society
If you’re a fan of North Carolina-style barbecue (typically barbecued, chopped whole hog, or barbecued pork shoulder with some type of vinegar-based sauce), you’ll love the North Carolina Barbecue Society’s cooking classes. Here you’ll learn how to barbecue everything from whole hogs, shoulders and Boston butts to chicken, pork ribs and even wild-caught fish. But you won’t spend all of your time at the grill—in the July class held at Sugar Mountain Resort (about an hour outside of Asheville) you’ll also find out how to prepare both North Carolina vinegar-based sauce and Lexington-style dip and rubs. All classes are taught by North Carolina pitmasters and chefs, and judging classes are included, so once you “graduate,” you’ll be a certified NCBS barbecue judge, as well. $449 (lodging not included), July 19-20, Sugar Mountain Resort.
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation’s Georgia’s Bistro Cooking Class
If your idea of a summer barbecue cooking class involves sitting back and watching someone else do most of the work, the Georgia’s Bistro Cooking Class at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation is the perfect solution. Every Sunday through September, guests can watch chef Aaron Baxendale as he roasts a whole pig at the resort’s newly renovated Georgia’s Bistro restaurant. Baxendale explains the ins and outs of a traditional Southern pig roast, beginning with rubs and brines, right down to the best sides and sweets to serve. $15, Sundays 1 p.m., Georgia’s Bistro, Reynolds Plantation.
Photos Courtesy of The Broadmoor