Summer grilling secrets from a Hamptons chef

The chef de cuisine of Tom Colicchio's new restaurant is fired up for outdoor cooking season.

Tom Colicchio’s newest venture, Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, is enjoying its first season in the Hamptons East End. Sharing billing with a luxurious mansion-turned-inn of the same name, the restaurant lends new meaning to the phrase farm-to-table: Chefs utilize food grown on the one-acre farm located right on the property.

The daily-rotating menu is inspired by what’s in the garden, and the fresh produce takes top billing on plates supplemented with fish and meat from local farmers, ranchers and day-boat fisherman.

Chef de Cuisine Ty Kotz calls his garden “micro-seasonal” and mines the endless selection of plantings, picked fresh right before service. “Just think, we use all the many varieties of lettuce we have growing for our salads, so it’s never the standard mix,” Kotz explains. And as his vegetables come up, he’ll throw his favorites right on the grill for his health-savvy Hamptons patrons.

Here, Kotz shares some of his best grilling secrets to elevate your cook-out.

choose veggies with kick.

Onions, garlic and heirloom chili peppers are particularly well-suited for grilling, says Kotz. For fresh onions and garlic, he suggests splitting them in half, then drizzling with melted butter, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar for carmelization, then wrapping them up in foil. “Poke some holes in the top of the foil packets to help smoke penetrate and place them away from the direct heat on your grill.” You can also use this method for kale and swiss chard, tossed with olive oil and sliced garlic. "Heirloom chili peppers are excellent fire-roasted over a hot charcoal grill with the skins on until black," says Kotz. Remove them from the heat, then place them in a bowl wrapped in plastic wrap for about 5 minutes. Peel off the charred skin, split the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Chop them up with raw or grilled onion, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and black pepper. "This is a great topping for grilled meats," says Kotz.

focus on local catches.

Local fish make a perfect accompaniment to these veggies. For the Bridgehampton crowd, Kotz chooses tilefish and fluke. “The fluke are feeding off the squid in the Peconic Bay, which is making them big and sweet. Simple preparations are best and I suggest olive oil, salt, pepper and then placing the fish straight on the grill. You can finish them with brown butter, lemon and parsley—maybe some chopped capers for an extra zip.”

use indirect heating.

“We prefer charcoal grilling over gas and think indirect heating is the best way to coax flavors from the food,” Kotz says. Positioning your ingredients to the side of the heat, instead of directly above it, lets you cook evenly and gives protein and veggies that coveted smokiness.