Ambassador of the month

Steven Raichlen, Back to Barbecue Day

Meet The Ambassadors

Meet Steven Raichlen, expert griller, author, TV host and official #WhyIGrill Ambassador for #BacktoBarbecue Day.

Saturday, May 27, is Back to Barbecue Day presented by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. It’s the official kickoff to grilling season and one of the busiest grilling days of the year. To help celebrate, HPBA encourages you to pledge to grill out on May 27 and enter to win prizes! Steven Raichlen, HPBA’s official ambassador for National Barbecue Month 2023, shares why he loves to grill and how he plans to start Back to Barbecue Day with a delicious grilled breakfast.

Last year we were still in the throes of Covid 19—uncertain as to how much we should socially distance at barbecues, or whether it was safe to host barbecues at all.  

This year, socializing is back with a vengeance, as are the fires that draw us around the grill.  

And grilling we are—on a wider array of kettles, kamados, wood-burners, pellet grills, outdoor griddles, etc., than ever before. We’re even grilling on a new generation of electric grills that actually deliver the heat you need for properly searing a steak. 

We’re also grilling a wider array of foods than ever before—from breakfast (grilled eggs anyone?) to pizza, from appetizers to desserts. We’re grilling not just on special occasions, but four or six nights a week.  

This year, we have more reasons than ever to fire it up. Impressive new grills that deliver professional strength smoke and fire to our backyards. Powerful new technologies that let us control our grills from our smartphones and dial in doneness temperatures to the precise degree. Bold new flavors—from Asian lemongrass to Middle Eastern za’atar—that let us travel Planet Barbecue when we grill. And a newfound respect for grilled vegetables to help us grill healthier and gladden the hearts of vegetarians and omnivores alike. 

To these, add the reasons we’ve always grilled, like the joy of cooking and eating outdoors. The thrill of sizzling meat (and poultry and seafood and even tofu) over live fire. The inimitable flavors of fire and wood smoke and how they seem to make every food taste better.   

Above all, there’s the conviviality of grilling—the sheer pleasure and excitement we experience when we gather around the grill. After all, nobody stands at the oven to watch a loaf of bread bake. But fire up the grill, and you’ve got a party.   

I have a very personal reason for rejoicing in Back to Barbecue Day this year. It coincides to the day with the launch of my new Public Television TV show: Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue!   

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time at the grill researching my books and TV shows. So when people ask me the secret of great grilling, I’m ready to help you take your grilling to the next level. Here are my top seven tips for better grilling this summer: 

  1. Start with enough fuel. Charcoal grillers: that means an extra bag of coals; gas grillers: an extra tank of propane. There’s nothing worse than running out of fire halfway through your grill session. Trust me: I’ve done it. 
  2. Use a chimney starter. This lights your charcoal in 15 minutes and you don’t need to use petroleum based lighter fluid. If you use a gas grill, have the lid open when you light it to prevent a potentially deadly buildup of propane.
  3. Wood smoke is the umami of barbecue. Add soaked wood chips or hardwood chunks to your fire (or place under the grate over one of the burners on your gas grill). The resulting fragrant wood smoke makes everything taste better.
  4. Grill out of your comfort zone. Most of us grill the same three or four dishes—you know, steak, burgers, sausages, kebabs—in monotonous rotation. The next time you fire it up, try something you’ve never grilled before.
  5. Keep your food safe. A “grate” debate rages as to whether or not to let your meat come to room temperature before grilling. Don’t. Keep meats, seafood, mayonnaise, etc. on ice until you’re ready to grill. A few extra seconds of grill time are worth keeping you and your guests safe from food-borne illness.
  6. Apply barbecue sauce at the end. Brush it on too early and the sugar in the sauce will burn before the meat is cooked through.
  7. Above all, have fun. If you’re enjoying the process, so will your guests. And repeat the above often. As with so much in life, practice makes perfect. That’s especially true of grilling.

May 27 is Back to Barbecue Day. I’ll see you around the grill! Try Steven’s new recipe for Grilled Eggs with Bacon and Parmesan Cheese. 

View More Ambassadors


Brad Prose

Brad Prose is a professional recipe developer, food writer and culinary photographer. He is the founder and force behind Chiles and Smoke, a website dedicated to inspiring readers to use new flavor combinations, techniques and ingredients when grilling or smoking. His combined passion for fine dining and BBQ shines through his presentations and cooking style.


Keane Amdahl

Meet Keane Amdahl, author of the book “Lakefish: Modern Cooking with Freshwater Fish” and marketing…

Who is HPBA?

Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), represents and provides professional member services and industry support, for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives, service firms, and allied associates for all types of fireplace, stove, heater, barbecue and outdoor living appliances and accessories. Learn More

questions? or want to learn more?


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)