With the unofficial start of summer kicking off this week, we’re chatting with Kerri Sitrin of Starr Restaurants to find out her tips for hosting the perfect summer barbecue your guests won’t forget.
What’s your top BBQ tip?
My biggest tip to hosting a BBQ – or any party for that matter – is to always plan ahead. Your guests are coming to spend time with YOU so making sure you have the right amount of food, drinks, sides, and serving dishes in advance is key for a successful event. Always plan for more than you think you need. You never know what guests will invite people last minute or who will show up extra hungry, and the last thing you want to do is want to worry about running out to a store to get more of something in the middle of your party.
What should be the focus of your barbecue?
Maybe I am biased from working in restaurants, but my focus is always on the food itself as I think the quality of the dishes you serve will be what people will remember. Jessica Fox, GM of Fette Sau, Starr Restaurants award winning BBQ concept says the difference between good BBQ and “best in Philly” BBQ all starts with the meat itself. Fette Sau sources local beef and pork from many farms in the Lancaster area and some as far as the Mid-West. Animals that are raised without growth hormones and are antibiotic free really do make for the tastiest BBQ (and are better for you). Depending on the cut of meat Fette Sau will smoke up to 14 hours with ‘wet’ white oak (and some secret fruit woods… I can’t give away everything away!). Fette Sau’s meats are actually available to be ordered in advance by the tray so you can even skip the grilling altogether if that’s not your thing.
What are your recommendations for a hot summer day of barbecuing?
As for drinks, most red wine drinkers like myself will want to enjoy a nice white or sparkling wine on a hot and sunny summer day. Make sure you have plenty of these on hand along with lots of ice cold beer. This is also the perfect time of year for hard cider – my favorite is local winery Stone and Key’s Cherry Pie Cider. While everyone loves a good cocktail, remember you want to spend the party with your guests, not mixing drinks, so my recommendation would be to come up with one cocktail to showcase that you can prepare in advance and serve in a large dispenser. Meredith Komorowsky from Sazerac recommends a classic Arnold Palmer – firefly sweet tea vodka + lemonade for an easy summer cocktail. If you want to get fancy you can throw in an herbs or fruit like basil, thyme, peaches or blackberries.
What do I do if preparing BBQ food and drinks isn’t my forte, but I still want to host a gathering for my friends?
Of course, if you’re not a “Do-it-yourself-er,” Starr Restaurants have a variety of options for you to host a gathering in a restaurant setting where we cook, clean, and serve food for you instead of having a party at home. Continental Midtown Roof and Frankford Hall Biergarten are the perfect fit if you’re looking for an indoor/outdoor vibe. Lobster mac n cheese, cheesesteak eggrolls, and giant pretzels will definitely have your guests talking for weeks about what a great party you threw!