Top Chef Alum Spike Mendelsohn Shares His Tips (and Recipes) for Throwing the Best Summer BBQ Ever!
You know Spike Mendelsohn as the confident, fedora wearing rebel in the kitchens of Top Chef, Next Iron Chef and Life After Top Chef. He’s also a restaurateur with three amazing restaurants in DC that a certain POTUS and his FLOTUS have been known to frequent. But, this summer he’s teaming up with Mike’s Hard Lemonade to create delicious recipes using their complete line of new products (including frozen margaritas!) made to wow at your next BBQ.
I caught up with him at the kick-off event where Spike gave me some summer BBQ tips that everyone from kitchen amateurs to gourmets can use with ease. And yes I got to taste his MHL creations and they are even more delish than you could imagine. Read on for tips, recipes and what’s next for the Top Chef!
OK!: First things first—tell us about the recipes you’ve created using the frozen Mike’s Hard Lemonade?
Spike Mendelsohn: Well, today I was having one of those Mike’s frozen margaritas and I just felt like doing a twist on oysters. You know how everyone does oyster shooters or what have you? I was like, ‘Let’s have oyster margaritas where you can rim the oysters with salt, put a little mignonette, use some of the frozen margarita on top, lime, cilantro and that’s it!’ In France there’s a classic dish called granita which is oysters with champagne mixed with sugar. They freeze it and scrape it and put it on oysters.
OK!: That sounds like a really fun spin on appetizers for a BBQ. What other ideas do you have?
SM: Think outside of the box. Let’s not throw burgers on the grill—let’s mix it up these days. We live in a society where everyone is such a foodie and everyone knows food so you have to step up your game. The other thing is, if you want to come to the party don’t come empty handed! Contribute something whether it’s a six pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade or a dip or guacamole. Make your friends contribute!
OK!: What are the dos and don’ts of being a good guest?
SM: First of all, don’t show up wasted because that’s not good. Get wasted there. And don’t bring things like potato salad. In a controlled environment where you’re going to picnic and eat right away—then yes. But if you’re going to have some fun and go to the pool or beach or backyard and the food is going to sit there all day long…anything with egg is no good. No deviled eggs. No potato salad. Nothing with mayonnaise. Nothing too complicated, and no one wants your mother’s meatloaf. Keep that at the house.
OK!: You said before to get away from the typical burgers and stuff on the grill—so what’s cool these days?
SM: People don’t want to take the extra steps sometimes. So for instance, with ribs you can’t take them out of the package and throw on the BBQ. That’s too easy and everyone would do it. But if you take a little bit of extra time and you plan it in the morning and you can rub your ribs with a nice spice… I love using pressure cookers because instead of taking two hours to braise they braise in 40 minutes. I use the Mike’s Apple Cider to braise them with and then add a nice BBQ sauce. Your cooking is done, all you have to do is throw them on the grill to reheat and you’re done.
OK!: What are some non-food touches you can add to your event?
SM: Lots of floats. I always have a float competition to see who can bring the most eccentric float to the pool or backyard. Frisbees are great. You have to bring toys to play with.
OK!: Will we see you on TV again soon?
SM: I just got done filming a show in LA and it should air in September on the Cooking Channel. It’s a food truck competition show that I’m really excited about and it’s taken me out of being just a contestant on reality completion shows and into a hosting position. I feel like Alton Brown or Tom Colicchio.
OK!: Did you go to either of them for advice?
SM: Well you know I’ve been on two Iron Chefs. I’ve gotten kicked off two Iron Chefs. I’ve gotten kicked off two Top Chefs. So I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with these people and study them.
OK!: Do you have a parting line?
SM: My line’s like, ‘The dream may have ended here, but keep on trucking.’ We can get them trucking hats. ‘Hand me your keys, and keep on trucking.’
And here’s one more treat for you! The recipe for Spike’s oysters—a surefire hit at your 4th of July bash!
mike’s classic margarita™ Oyster Shooters
Yields 20-25 Servings
Oysters • 2 mike’s classic margarita™ FROZEN 10 oz. pouches* • 20-25 oysters, Blue Point or Gulf Coast • salt (for rimming) • 3 limes Mignonette Sauce • 1/4 cup lime juice • 1 tsp. minced shallot • 1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
Prepare mignonette sauce by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl and chill for 10 minutes
Shuck oysters, removing the oyster from its shell and reserve oyster juice
Rim the edge of each oyster with a lime wedge then dip in salt
Place oyster back in shell • Take chilled mignonette sauce and gently mix in oyster juice
Spoon 1 tbs. of mike’s classic margarita™ FROZEN over oysters
*Pop your mike’s classic margarita™ FROZEN pouches in the freezer eight hours before you plan on enjoying it.
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