If you're looking to brush up on your grilling game, you might want to consider taking a class at the Weber Grill Academy in Vaughan, Ontario.
EDIT: The Weber Grill Academy is temporarily closed. They are schedule to re-open sometime in October 2022.
I had the opportunity to visit the Weber Grilling Academy last week, and I want to share my experience with you. I had no idea that this facility existed before I was invited to take part in a special grilling workshop with a few other bloggers.
While I've taken many cooking classes throughout the years, this was the first time that I'd taken a class specifically about grilling.
At first I was afraid that I would be completely out of my element, because I haven't cooked more than just some hot dogs on a grill.
I was pleasantly surprised though to discover that the learning environment at Weber is very relaxed and comfortable.
About the Classes
The Weber Grill Academy offers regularly scheduled public grilling classes, as well as private parties and corporate events. The classes are held year-round, are open to the public, and are always hands-on.
In each class, you get three hours of instruction from Grill Specialist, Chef Michael P. Clive. When you’re done, you get to eat your creation (and can take home your leftovers—if there are any).
To learn more about the Weber Grill Academy, and the classes that they offer, visit WeberGrillAcademy.ca.
My Experience at the Academy
We started the evening with a few treats that had been grilled before we arrived. My favourite was a smoked brie with a spicy blueberry sauce. This is definitely something that I'd want to try at home sometime.
Once everyone arrived, we were divided into groups of four. My team consisted of Annie (Chu On This), Gav (Grill Interrupted) and Howard (father of my friend Katherine from The Piquey Eater).
As we all gathered around our work station, we were greeted by Chef Michael P. Clive. Grill Master at Weber Stephen Canada.
Chef Clive told us that we would be cooking not one, not two, but FIVE different dishes during the class, using both the gas and charcoal grills.
I wondered how we would ever get that much cooking done in less than three hours. Especially since some of the recipes required more than 30 minutes of cooking time.
The first recipe that we began working on was smoked chicken drumettes with orange-honey glaze.
The wings and drumettes were already prepped in a tray for us, so all we had to do was season them with salt and pepper, and then send them off to get smoked.
After 30 minutes of grilling they were doused in the glaze and served. Yum!
Next up was the grilled pineapple upside-down cake.
This recipe had several parts to it, so we split up the work.
Gav grilled the pineapple slices, while Howard mixed up the cake batter. Annie and I worked on the brown sugar glaze for the cake.
Chef Clive made sure to visit everyone to make sure that we were on the right track. He was super friendly, and provided lots of help without making anyone feel bad or self-conscious.
Once all of the parts were ready, we put everything into a cast iron skillet and stuck it in the gas grill.
After almost an hour of cooking, we had a perfectly caramelized pineapple upside-down cake.
I still hadn't built up the nerve to physically grill anything, but I was having a great time. I felt like I was on Top Chef, minus the stress and drama!
The next item on the menu was a cedar-planked salmon.
Chef Clive warned us not to ever light a charcoal grill with starter/lighting fluid, as it can make your food taste bad. Then he told us to burn the cedar plank so that it would impart more flavour to the salmon.
Finally! Something I could do!! Burning things in the kitchen is one of my special talents.
(Have I told you about that time I set cookies on fire in the oven? No? Ok, that's a story for another day...)
Then Damien, the Weber Grill Academy sous-chef, prepared the coals for our charcoal grills.
I think he said something about indirect heat, but I was too busy staring at the sparks that were flying.
After Annie and I burnt the plank, we put the salmon on it and placed it in the grill.
It took about 20 minutes for the fish to cook through, and then the guys glazed it with the honey-lime dressing.
I was surprised at how moist the salmon was! I thought that the high heat of the grill might dry it out, but nope!
By this point in the night we had found our groove.
Everyone was busy working on something, and there was a lot of friendly chatter in the room. I love how cooking can bring people together!
My favourite recipe that we worked on was the Asparagus and Potato Napoleons. I actually grilled the veggies for this dish.
We don't need to talk about how many of those potato slices and asparagus spears I started with, and how many ended up on our plates.
Let's just say that some of them took a journey to Mordor, and fell into the fiery depths of Mount Doom...
The veggies that did survive my cooking skills turned out really nice. Gav and I worked together to build and plate the Napoleons - aren't they pretty?
After two solid hours of cooking, we were rewarded with plates of delicious food!
(Oh, there are beef satays with a spicy peanut sauce on the plates below, too. I had absolutely no part in that dish, as I was busy watching my veggies
I loved that we were able to enjoy a sit-down meal with our teammates. It gave us the opportunity to chat, and of course devour the delicious meal we had made together.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend the classes at the Weber Grill Academy. They're fun, educational and the best part is that you don't have to clean up the dishes afterwards!
I did not pay for this workshop, nor was I paid to attend.
This is not a sponsored post. However, I was gifted a Q 1200 grill which I may review eventually.