Celebrity chef Cat Cora offers her tips on how to get perfect grill marks and more.

By Marisa Spyker
April 24, 2012
Photographer: David Tsay

"The greatest thing about grilling this time of year: Produce is at its peak, so nearly everything is in season," Cat says. "I'll throw virtually anything on the grill, from bread and pound cake to even romaine lettuce! It brings a nice smoky flavor to a salad."

1. To cut down on cooking time, make sauces and prep meats a day before.

2. For perfect grill marks, coat meat and veggies generously with oil and make sure your grill is really, really hot before cooking.

3. Don't overcook shrimp. Remove them from the grill as soon as they turn pink, which should take no more than one to two minutes per side.

4. When using tongs to flip raw meat, be sure to wash them well before using again on another ingredient.

5. Enhance the smokiness of grilled food with wood chips. Soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to cooking, then wrap them in aluminum foil and place the packet directly next to food on the grill.

6. For a great, instant glaze over grilled stone fruit, try the Greek-style aged balsamic from my Gaea collection (Oxymelo Barrel-Aged Vinegar with Thyme Honey; catcora.com).

7. Microwave root vegetables such as beets, potatoes, and carrots prior to throwing them on the grill—it will make them more tender and cut down on cooking time.

8. If there is a lot of char left on the grill when you finish cooking one dish, brush it away to keep the next item that goes on the grates from picking up those flavors.

Cat and Co-Host Curtis Stone's new show, Around the World in 80 Plates, is a culinary adventure she describes as "a combination of Top Chef, Survivor, and The Amazing Race." It premieres May 9 at 10 p.m. EST on Bravo.