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San Diego Food Writer Calls On Gals To Get Their Grill On

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, executive chef of the new restaurant El Jardin, at an event at Bread and Salt in Barrio Logan, Feb. 2018.
Josue Castro
Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, executive chef of the new restaurant El Jardin, at an event at Bread and Salt in Barrio Logan, Feb. 2018.
San Diego Food Writer Calls On Gals To Get Their Grill On
San Diego Food Writer Calls On Gals To Get Their Grill On GUESTS: Caron Golden, food writer, San Diego Foodstuff Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, executive chef, El Jardin

>> Take a deep sniff and you might smell it, those are grilling now that summer is almost here. If you think outdoor grilling is the exclusive purview of men, think again. Karen is urging women to take their rightful place as grill masters. In her recent article, grilling, she shared the grilling experience in recipes of chef Claudette Wilkins. Karen and Claudette spoke with Maureen Cavanaugh. >> Can you point out in the article that around the world, women are the ones who do the grilling, do you mean any kind of cooking outdoors? >> We live in a culture in which we had indoor kitchens and we are very spoiled in the ways that we get to use equipment. That around the world, probably primarily in developing nations, they do not have that kind of opportunity. Women are basically making tires outdoors and doing their basic cooking. The point and all that is simply that in the past, when there have been surveys with men and women about grilling him women who said that they are scared fires and stuff -- this puts to rest the whole idea that men and fire go hand in hand and women belong in a kitchen over the stove. It is not simply the tradition around the world. >> So where do we get this idea that grilling is thought up as a guy thing? >> It is a madman thing. I did some research and basically, it started out as a marketing idea after World War II when men were coming home from the war and the suburbs were all being built and families were coming into the suburbs and we had this image of the man over his grill. In fact, there was this piece about a Chicago welder in 1952, he cut a buoy in half and he used the lower bowl for the charcoal and the upper dome for the lid and that eventually evolved into the Weber kettle grill and you have this image of the husband wielding the big spatula over a big thing of meat and that became the all-American vision of what grilling became. That sort of lasted all these years. >> When did you first discover your love for grilling? >> I want to say I was about 19 and I got my first grill. I went to Home Depot and I thought they came prebuilt. I knew I had grown up eating grilled fish, but when I went, I was like I went to buy a grill. It dawned on me that grilling would be fun. I went into Home Depot and I told the guy I would like this one and it was a massive smoker and he tried to talk me out of it. That has happened on other occasions where they say no, not this one. Then they try to bring me a box and I am like no, I want the one that is on the floor. I do not want to build it. I convinced him to help me load it into my friend's truck and I have not really stopped grilling since. It was not using gas, it was using charcoal or white. I did not go into wood until my professional career once I started seeing what we could do and how you can manipulate smoke. Venice started getting a passion for it. I have been grilling for all my life with my family, but professionally for the past 16 years, I have been dedicated to mastering the art of grilling. You can bake cookies and sauce. You can buy temperature controls -- >> It is phenomenal to watch her do this. >> You say you have advanced from the gas grill and now you work with wood and charcoal, can you tell us about how you go about preparing your fire? >> I like to start with Terkel because it gets hot fast and it maintains a good heat. Wood tends to have different smoke points and some firm faster than others. So I like to use the wood for the smoke factor and I like the Terkel for the heat. If you use the Japanese Terkel, that is famous for maintaining the amount of heat that will keep four hours. The thing about when men grill, and I have friends grow, they put so much charcoal in there and they really got the fire roaring, but it is not necessary. >> And they use all of the gas. >> Anything that is near them, they are like pirates. But I do know how to get the best use out of my with so I do not just waste it. I do not use would only. I think of how much waste that is and then I think of -- I troubled so much to countries that are deep for listing their land for wood and charcoal, so I try to be conscious of that. >> We heard from Karen about some of the unusual things that you do grill. What are some of your favorites? >> I like grilling all sorts of shellfish. I like grilling random vegetables that come out of the garden. I do desserts, I have baked cookies straight onto a sheet pan in the middle of a forest. Really, your imagination is what you can do with it. >> I saw her make steak, which we would expect is phenomenal, and a flatbread, which I had never really considered. And you can put your pizza stone on the grill or you can just put the pizza or the flatbread dough on the greats themselves. It is so much more versatile than we give credit for. We tend to think of it as pretty much hot dogs hamburgers, steak and chicken and that is not the case at all. >> What have you learned about grilling? Do you grill? >> I do. I worry about having dogs roaming around with fire going on. So I got one of those big sturdy gas grills and one of the benefits of doing that, you do not get the flavor and you do not get quite the same experience as you get when you are using charcoal and wood, but it is easy to turn on. If you are someone who is working all day and he went to grill when you get home, it is something you can come home, turn on, and you can have your meal pretty fast depending on what you are making. >> What kind of feedback have you received on your article? >> The funny thing is, I got a lot of pushback from women who are saying they are grilling. They are the primary grill or. Good for them. I am really happy that that is what is going on and there are more women doing it, but I have to say that if you look at movies, if you look at TV and if you look at the advertising, it is always men doing it. Maybe it is kind of a -- it is my night off and he gets to do it, but the fun things is if you are doing it for a party, you are outside where everyone is, you are not stuck in the kitchen, so you can play a role. The other thing is, if you have something else to do, you can hand the tongs off to someone else. It is more of a group activity then it is a woman just being left in the kitchen to do the basic cooking. >> I have been speaking with Karen, her blog is called San Diego foodstuff. Thank you. >> Thank you. >> And Claudette is about to open her restaurant in liberty Station. >> Thank you for having me.

Summer is around the corner and that means grilling will soon be in the air all over San Diego.

But if you think outdoor grilling is the exclusive purview of men and meat, think again.

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In a recent article,“Grilling: Not Just A Man’s World,” San Diego food writer Caron Golden urged women to take their rightful place as grill masters.

"We live in a culture in which we have indoor kitchens and we are very spoiled in the ways we get to use equipment, but around the world, primarily in developing nations they don't have that kind of opportunity and women are basically making fires outdoors and doing their basic cooking. So, that sort of puts to rest the whole idea that men and fire go hand in hand and women belong in a kitchen over a stove. It isn't simply the tradition around the world, " Golden said.

Golden and Claudette Zepeda-Wilkens, executive chef at the new El Jardin restaurant opening this summer in Liberty Station, share grilling tips and some of their favorite summer grilling recipes Tuesday on Midday Edition.

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