Tips from Top Chicago Chefs to Make This National BBQ Month Right

Must read

This National BBQ Month, you can order takeout from one of our favorite bbq joints in Chicago, or you can learn from the top Chicago chefs and turn into the real grill master this year for Memorial Day. I mean… it’s your call, right? But lemme just say this: the chefs sure are generous this year! These tips include everything from behind-the-door best practices to solid recipes. So, have fun exploring!

Chef Mark Steuer from Funkenhausen

Beer Bratwurst Recipe

For those dreaming of grilling season, Chef Mark Steuer at Chicago’s Funkenhausen, a two-time Michelin Bib Gourmand winner, has created the perfect Beer Bratwurst recipe to kick off your next backyard barbeque and will leave your guests’ stomachs full and taste buds dancing while bringing German traditions to every plate. At Funkenhausen, Chef Mark draws on his German heritage and Charleston, South Carolina upbringing to create a menu that reimagines his fondest meals and memories from childhood with a soulful mash-up of cuisines, cultures and memories in an expression that is deeply personal—but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Chef Mark’s full recipe can be found here.

Chef D’Andre Carter from Soul & Smoke

BBQ Sauce For At-Home Grillmasters

Soul & Smoke has become one of Chicago’s most coveted barbeque concepts in recent years with a recent expansion into all 44 Mariano’s grocery stores in the Chicagoland area offering Chef D’Andre’s highly sought-after barbeque sauce to-go bottles for all the at-home grillmasters. This Kansas City-style barbeque sauce includes premium ingredients while still maintaining that sweet, tangy and thick profile of Kansas City sauce with an explosion of flavor.

Chef Bill Kim from urbanbelly and The Table at Crate

Award-winning Chicago Chef Bill Kim is the author behind “Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces” and he offers a simple tip to up your BBQ game this summer — it’s all about the sauce.

“Literally all you need to blow away your friends and family at the next barbecue is to up your sauces,” said Kim and he added, “the night before you barbecue, take what you’re grilling and let it sit overnight in a sauce or marinade. When you cook it and taste it, it’ll feel like it’s been prepped by ten people. Planning in advance helps you get great multi-dimensional flavors. It’s absolutely no work but makes all the difference in the end.”

One of the sauces Chef Kim holds near and dear to his heart is his Soy Balsamic Sauce. It was his first attempt at using ingredients that didn’t normally go together. Balsamic vinegar has the perfect mix of sweetness, acidity and body to combine with the brown sugar and soy sauce with his creation. Full recipe below:


  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, or as needed

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar

  • ½ cup soy sauce

Instructions: Makes one cup. Prep time ten minutes, cook time ten minutes

  • In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water until the cornstarch dissolves and the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream, adding more cornstarch if the mixture is too thin.
  • Combine the brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir the cornstarch mixture briefly to recombine, then stir it into the soy-vinegar mixture and simmer over low heat for about three minutes, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from the heat, let it cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container. This sauce will last for months without going bad.

Unique uses for Soy Balsamic Sauce

  • Hoisin and Yuzu Edamame

  • Drunken BBQ Lamb Chops

  • Honey Soy Flank Steak

  • Sesame Hoisin Chicken Wings

  • Gun Bae Soju Scallops

  • Sizzling Soy Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms

  • Hoisin Baked Beans with Bacon BBQ Crust

Chef John Manion from El Che Steakhouse & Bar:

Meat Butter Recipe

Legendary food critic Phil Vettel once called Chef Manion the “master of flame” for his incredible live-fire grilling skills, but beyond his natural talent, Manion’s flame-finished beef tastes even better with his personal concoction: Meat Butter. Unlike most other steakhouses Manion does not prefer his steak to be finished with butter, rather, he would prefer to keep beef tasting like beef by slathering the mix on steaks while they are resting. Full recipe below:


  • 3lbs trimmed beef fat, diced

  • 4 garlic gloves, finely chopped

  • Salt to taste

Instructions: Makes 2 Cups

  1. Clean the fat of all meat scraps, and cut into very small pieces. Place it in a food processor, and pulse until it is the consistency of hamburger meat.
  2. Transfer the fat to a Dutch oven and place over very low heat. Slowly cook the fat, stirring occasionally. Skim any impurities that rise to the top. Continue to render the fat until it looks like crumbs and you have a good amount of golden liquid. This can take 3 to 4 hours, but trust me; it’s worth the time. Keep an eye on it; you definitely do not want to scorch or burn it.
  3. Strain the fat through a cheesecloth, then transfer it to a container. Place it in the refrigerator to cool until semi-soft. In a stand or handheld mixer, add garlic and salt to taste, and whip for two minutes. Refrigerate, covered tightly, for up to a month.

Featured Image Credit: Soul & Smoke

More articles

Latest article