LongHorn Steakhouse has a long history of grilling. They’ve been firing up perfect steaks and burgers for over 30 years (they were founded in 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia). While we love their steaks, we really love that the brand knows that the grill isn’t only a man’s domain. Julie Harwood, a grill master at the Liverpool, New York LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant, recently completed in the brand’s very own internal cooking competition. Think Top Chef, but with steaks.
The LongHorn Steak Master Series Competition is a showdown of the best of the best when it comes to the grill. Contestants get the chance to visit Longhorn HQ in Orlando, Florida and compete for a $10,000 grand prize. Not bad for a day’s work! Since many of LongHorn’s other locations feature kitchens headed by female grill masters, we knew exactly where to go when we wanted pro tips for a great BBQ weekend.
1. Lindsey Curtit
Grill Master and Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse – O’Fallon, Mo.
Lindsey Curtit started as a server at LongHorn Steakhouse 11 years ago. Two years later, she was promoted to manager and regional culinary captain.
Today, she is the Managing Partner of the LongHorn Steakhouse in O’Fallon, Mo. Curtit was born and raised in Jefferson City, where she attended Lincoln University. She has a master’s degree in Business Administration.
Lindsey’s Top Grilling Tips
Make sure to oil your Char-Grill and season your steaks well.
Never puncture your steak when manning the grill. The juices will run out.
Choose the filet if it’s your first time grilling for the family.
Pay attention to the thickness of your steak. Heartier steaks go on first, but make sure to keep an eye on it and flip them every 3-4 minutes.
The best tip for a first-time female grill master? Be confident!
2. Erika DeLeon
Grill Master and Steak Master Series Regional Winner
Erika DeLeon has been a part of the LongHorn Steakhouse team for about four and half years. Having 10 years of service experience, she initially joined the team as a server. However, she always wanted to get experience working in the kitchen. For the past 2 and a half years, she has been a Grill Master at LongHorn. Deleon grew up in Cody, Wyoming and now lives in Winter Haven, Fla.
She has more than 12 years of experience in the restaurant industry and initially joined the business because she was a people person. However, when she became a Grill Master, she discovered her passion for grilling and cooking. At home, she enjoys cooking a lot of different recipes, like Chipotle Corn Chowder. She also enjoys grilling and likes to show off her skills on the grill when she visits her family in Wyoming.
DeLeon participated in the restaurant’s Steak Master Series competition and was named a regional winner – she expressed that she learned so much from her experience in this competition.
Erika’s Top Grilling Tips
Make sure that your outdoor grill is clean and well-oiled.
It needs to be hot! A temperature of 450- 650 degree is ideal.
If you like rare steaks, use a higher temperature since it won’t be on the grill as long.
If you’re going for looks, make sure when you flip your steak every 3-4 minutes.
Give it a quarter turn to get those diamond grill marks.
Editor’s Note: Erika DeLeon’s name and hometown have been edited to their correct spellings.
3. Jessica Demski
Grill Master and Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse – Pensacola, Fla.
Jessica Demski, a native of Middleburg, Fla., has been a Grill Master and Managing Partner with LongHorn Steakhouse for 13 years, but has more than 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
She started as a server and quickly moved up to a manager position. Today, Jessica is the Managing Partner of the LongHorn Steakhouse in Pensacola, Fla., which was recently named “Best Steakhouse in Pensacola” by the local community.
Jessica’s Top Grilling Tips
Make sure you have a clean, oiled grill before you start grilling!
A hand towel dipped in oil with a pair of tongs always does the trick. Run it up and down the grates to get full coverage.
When cooking steaks, keep them in the fridge until you grill.
This way, you won’t overcook your steak, especially if you like them rare or medium rare.
If you’re using a meat thermometer, limit how many times you check the temperature.
You don’t want to lose the juices! Also, poke the meat in the side of the steak to get the most accurate reading.
4. Catherine Fetter
Grill Master and Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse – Terre Haute, Ind.
Catherine Fetter, a native of Granville, Ohio, is a Grill Master and Managing Partner at the LongHorn Steakhouse in Terre Haute, Ind. Fetter graduated with an Ecology degree from Ohio State University. While in school, she worked at a local restaurant on the weekends, but was so blown away by the experience, that she decided to switch careers.
She has been with LongHorn Steakhouse for 5.5 years and in the restaurant industry for nine years. She started as a server with LongHorn Steakhouse and became a Grill Master and Managing Partner within two short years. As Managing Partner, she enjoys sharing her passion for grilling with her entire community.
Catherine’s Top Grilling Tips:
Start with fresh, quality ingredients.
Fresh, never frozen steaks are the way to go.
Don’t be bashful with your seasoning selection.
Keep it simple with fresh ground black pepper, sea salt and fresh minced garlic.
Achieve a perfectly grilled steak by flipping every 3 to 4 minutes with tongs.
Use a bio-thermometer to check the degree of doneness. A medium steak should have an internal temperature between 130 and 140 degrees.
5. Julie Harwood
Grill Master and Steak Master Series National Finalist – Liverpool, NY
Julie Harwood is known as the “Jewel of the Grill” to her team at LongHorn Steakhouse in Liverpool, NY. She began her culinary career more than 30 years ago after falling in love with the culinary arts in high school.
Today, she shares her passion for cooking as an expert Grill Master and has become one of seven national finalists in LongHorn’s epic culinary competition, the Steak Master Series. When she’s not sharing her knowledge with her restaurant culinary team, she’s spending time with her husband of 26 years and two children.
Julie’s Top Grilling Tips
Make sure that your grill or pan is nice and hot before you add any meat.
Don’t overwork your steak.
Don’t flip it every five seconds – take your time and let it cook for a few minutes on each side. If you flip it too much, you’ll dry your steak out and let the juices out.
Let your steak rest your steak for 1 to 2 minutes before you cut into it.
This seals in all the flavor and juices of the steak.
6. Amanda Mobley
Grill Master and Steak Master Series Regional Champion
Amanda Mobley began her career with LongHorn Steakhouse 10 years ago as a culinary team member. In two short years, she started became a Grill Master. She enjoys working at the LongHorn Steakhouse in LaGrange because of her management team and team member colleagues.
She is also appreciative of the work-life balance she is able to manage with the support of the restaurant team. Mobley participated in the restaurant’s Steak Master Series competition and was named a regional winner.
Amanda’s Top Grilling Tips
Make sure you work with the right cut of meat for your grill – it makes all the difference.
A ribeye is better suited for a backyard grill, since it gets a nice char, and comes out juicy and flavorful.
Cleaning the grill is one of the most important steps to grilling.
If you don’t clean your grill, your steak is not going to cook evenly and you will get a mixture of flavors.
7. Ambra Offutt
Grill Master and Director of Operations
Ambra Offutt, a Director of Operations for LongHorn Steakhouse, has been with the company for more than 14 years. She worked her way up as a Grill Master with LongHorn Steakhouse and now oversees eight restaurant locations spanning from Dalton, Ga., to Morristown, Tenn.
The Chattanooga resident is an avid sports fan – and was the first little girl to ever play little league! She enjoys grilling for herself, her family and friends. Her favorite steak to grill is the ribeye, because the marbling throughout the steak makes it the juicy and flavorful. She is a native of Nashville and has been in the restaurant industry between for more than 25 years.
Ambra’s Top Grilling Tips
For charcoal grills:
If you’re using a charcoal grill, add newspaper into the dome and place the charcoal around it, which will allow you to light the charcoal without using lighter fluid.
For gas grills:
If you’re using a gas grill, the most important thing is to get it hot.
Keep it closed until it reaches a temperature of 450-550 degrees. Keep it open while you cook the meat – there’s no need to close the lid when cooking steaks. If you do, it’ll grill way too quick and the flavor will not be seared into the meat.
8. Sara Plank
Grill Master and Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse – Centennial, Colo.
Sara Plank, a native of Cinnamon Lake, Ohio, started as a hostess at LongHorn Steakhouse in 2001. Sarah enjoys challenging and developing new team members and helped open 24 new restaurants across the country as part of the LongHorn Steakhouse corporate training team.
Today, Plank is the Managing Partner of the LongHorn Steakhouse in Centennial, Colo. She enjoys spending time outdoors and helping people across the country grill the perfect steak through LongHorn’s annual Grill Us Hotline.
Sara’s Top Grilling Tips
You have to chill on the grill!
Don’t turn the heat too high or over-flip your steak.
Always be generous with the seasoning.
Most of it will fall through the grates during the grilling process. Don’t ever be afraid to boldly season your meat.
Have a fresh, cold beverage and enjoy yourself.
Grilling is an art – have fun while doing it!
9. Leeann Pulliam
Grill Master and Managing Partner, LongHorn Steakhouse – Cleveland, Tenn.
Leeann Pulliam, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years. Today, Pulliam is the Managing Partner of the LongHorn Steakhouse in Cleveland, Tenn., where she has received several awards, including Darden’s prestigious Diamond Club and Reader’s Choice for Best Steakhouse four years in a row.
When she is not coaching her team on how to grill the perfect steak and provide excellent guest service, she enjoys spending time with her husband Ted, children Tessa and Taylor, and her three dachshunds.
Leeann’s Top Grilling Tips
You must begin with a clean, hot grill.
Make sure your grill is at least 425 degrees.
Do not be afraid to season, in fact, BOLDLY season your steaks.
Be sure to flip your steak ever 3-4 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly.
Do you feel confident enough to tackle the grill this weekend? If you do, submit your photos to our Grill Games contest for a chance to win one of the three YETI coolers offered!