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Grilling Tips & Party Time with Robert Irvine

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Guess whaaaaat? It's party time all weekend with Dan's Taste of Summer [July 17th-18th] in Bridgehampton at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Rd. Woohoo! Celebrity chef and Food Network star Robert Irvine is co-hosting Grill Hampton on Friday night with Chopped's Marc Murphy. We caught up with Irvine to find out what makes the perfect bite. He gave us grilling tips along with heart healthy food swaps.

With Restaurant: Impossible and Dinner: Impossible, you are an authority in party food prep. What's your advice for the chefs participating in Dan's Taste of Summer?
This year's lineup of chefs is really impressive. I can throw out plenty of advice about prepping for a competition or cooking under pressure, but these guys know the drill. What I will remind them, however, is to stop and have fun once and a while. We chefs our proud and we of course want to be the best and make a strong impression. But it's important to remember that this is also an incredible event with lots of great people out having the time of their lives and enjoying the summer season. So my only advice would be to stop every once and a while to interact with the guests, enjoy some good food and make a memory or two before the whole event passes by.

As far as party food goes, what's your idea of the perfect bite?
The perfect bite is one that combines flavors in simple format so one doesn't cancel out the other. I tend to find that majority of people love acid — vinegar, juices — really make tartness stand out, and with every mouthful, you have something really flavorful.

Since you are co-hosting Dan's Grill Hampton, what do you love about grilling in the summertime?
Summertime grilling with friends and family are among some of the fondest memories I've acquired over the years. Sitting out back in the summer sun, enjoying fresh cocktails and grill-flavored foods, and sharing good conversation with your favorite people… what's not to like about this season?

Any advice for grilling at home?
For home grilling, I like to suggest ideas for creating a more nutritious menu to serve to the family or guests. In fact, I feature quite a few healthy, lower-calorie grilling recipes in my new health and fitness guide, Fit Fuel, that incorporate some of the following cooking principles:

1. Cut down on the sodium by replacing bottled seasonings with fresh herbs
2. Use a lean cuts of red meat vs highly marbled red meat
3. Stay away from high sugar sauces, such as commercial bbq sauces, and replace them with citrus marinades made from fresh squeezed lemons, limes, oranges, vinegars and grape seed oil.
4. When it comes to side dishes, stay away heavy mayonnaise based "starchy choices". Replace them with grilled vegetables, grain salads (such as quinoa and faro) and bean salads with vinaigrettes.

What are some of your favorite summer foods?
I love salmon year-round, but it is particularly delicious prepared on the grill. Salmon is loaded with omega fatty acids, which not only provide great nutritional benefits, but the fats ensure that the fish will stay moist on the grill.

Tell us about the nutritionally improved food products you are selling with Giant Food.
My goal with Robert Irvine Foods was to create foods accessible to the every-day family that wants to eat more nutritiously without compromising taste. Our initial product offerings with Giant Food includes our reduced fat and calorie cheesecakes and all-natural crab cakes. And soon, we will add our ultra thin multigrain pizzas, oven-roasted wings with signature sauces, and the Chef's top-rated FIT Crunch protein bars to our list of available products. Preserving taste was key, so we consulted with leading culinary experts and nutritional research and development firms to ensure that our food was not only more nutritious, but also more delicious than the competition.

Tickets are still available. Just click here.