Chef John Schenk, who is known for his intensive knowledge of meat and steaks, joined the BR Guest Hospitality Group to direct culinary operations, including the New York City and Las Vegas locations. He’s certainly made his mark. In 2004 he moved to Houston to work as Executive Chef at Strip House, and was named Corporate Executive Chef in 2006 to the brand’s Houston, New York City, Las Vegas, Livingston, Naples and Key West locations, where he oversaw and directed culinary operations.
Schenk likes to keep busy with appearances on NBC Today Show, CBS Early Show, FOX & Friends. He was the original chef on the Food Networks Ready, Set, Cook, and has cooked numerous times at The James Beard House. A natural instructor, he has taught classes for De Gustibus, Peter Kumps Cooking School, All Clad and Bloomingdales.
Under Schenk, Strip House was named one of New Yorks top steakhouses 2012 and 2011, awarded four stars by Forbes 2011 All-Star Eateries in N.Y., deemed Critics Pick by NY Mag, and dubbed Frommers.com’s choice for perfectly charred and seasoned red meat. In 2010, The New York Times reviewer Sam Sifton awarded Strip House two stars and praised its evolution since opening a decade earlier, writing: the food is generally marvelous, the steak often superb.
Needless to say, we were excited to get Chef Schenk’s personal grilling tips. You will never mess up a steak with these easy to follow grilling tips. They are perfect for summer and BBQ season. Next time someone asks you why your steaks are so damned good, let them know it’s all because of the Strip House’s Chef John Schenk.
Grilling: 8 Basic Steps to Meat Nirvana
1: Make it marbled.
The best steaks for home grilling are nature’s perfectly marbled beef rib eye steaks or bone-in rib eye steaks often called Cowboy Steaks. The marbling enhances the flavor of these cuts while basting the meat in the cooking process to ensure a juicy steak.
2: Oil It:
Use a canola and olive oil blended oil to coat the steak before seasoning it. Either an 80/20 or 90/10 blended oil will get the job done. Be sure to lightly coat the steak. The oil will allow the surface temperature to get seared fast ensuring a juicier final product as well as greatly aiding the charring of the meat’s surfaces. Save your expensive olive oils for salads where their subtle flavors will shine brightest.
3: Season Simply:
A well-marbled steak needs only coarsely ground black pepper and kosher salt to bring flavor perfection. It really is a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Be sure to season a bit more than you might regularly season a sautéed item. Some of the steak’s seasoning will be lost in the grilling process. You want to be sure to have enough on the steak to get the job done.
4: Don’t Spare the BTUs:
It is all about heat. High heat sears the cooking surface of the meat ensuring a juicier steak and allows the charring to happen. With high heat, one can get a nicely charred rare steak. A little flame is your friend; a lot of flame is a definite concern. Keep two sides of the grill hot and move the steak to the second hot spot if the first grilling area is aggressively flaming up. Dousing with water is a last resort; you want to keep the grill as hot as possible. But if it’s between the house going up and a well charred steak, I’d give a nod to keeping the house intact.
5: Don’t Flip Out:
Flipping the steak too often can sabotage the charring of the meat and eliminate most of the seasoning on the steak. Don’t drag the steak over the grill when turning. Pick it up in one motion and place it back with the same motion.
6: Rest and Relax:
Once you have achieved the desired temperature, remove the steak from the heat and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes on a grate over a pan before cutting it. You want to make sure there is air all around the steak to stop the cooking process. The internal juices will redistribute throughout the steak and the steak will relax and become tender. Cutting too soon will allow the juices to spill out turning a medium rare steak into a medium plus steak. I have done this and I was sad.
7: Real Men Sizzle and Use Sea Salt aka Good News/Bad News
The Good News: After the steak has rested. Return it to the grill for about 30 seconds on each side just before serving to get a surface sizzle going. A little sprinkle of a grey sea salt on the steak allows for a gentle and focused re-seasoning of the steak.
The Bad News: People will make you do all the grilling from now on.
8: You’ve Been Schooled:
So get out there and buy a well-marbled steak and make me look good. I’d do it for you.
Strip House Steak House is located at The Westminster Hotel 550 West Mount Pleasant Ave. Livingston, NJ 07039