Barbecue extravaganza at Hotel Bel-Air
Food and drink

The ultimate BBQ with chef Connor McVay

August 11, 2022

There’s nothing better than getting together with family and friends for a barbecue. To help you host your own gathering, we quizzed Connor McVay at Hotel Bel-Air, a chef who knows a thing or two about charcoal grilling.

Five expert grilling tips from our pro

For those of you firing up the BBQ on balmy summer days, here are some top tips to ensure you impress your guests.

1. First, use really good quality charcoal and wood. Think oak wood and mesquite charcoal, and steer clear of briquettes because they simply don’t bring out the flavour.

2. Visit your local farmers’ market to find excellent quality fresh meat and vegetables, as this really makes a difference. Look out for fruit that you can BBQ too, such as peaches and plums, which are ideal for livening up a salad, or to serve with ice cream for dessert.

3. Always try to set aside a little extra time to make your own barbecue sauce from scratch. Your guests will think you’re a pro and it’s a tasty accompaniment to grilled meats and vegetables. I’ve included an enticing recipe below.

4. Remove the meat from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, and season it well. Once cooked, allow time for the meat to rest so it’s tender and juicy. A handy guide is to rest steak, chicken and fish for around a quarter of the time it cooks for.

5. Add a high quality finishing salt for an extra boost of flavour just before serving. Favourites include Balinese sea salt or Maldon sea salt flakes.

Portrait of chef Connor in the kitchen smiling
BBQ fire at Hotel Bel-Air

BBQ sauce recipe

This tried and trusted favourite is inspired by local Southern Californian and Baja flavours.


32oz chopped plum tomatoes
½ medium yellow onion
16oz chopped tomatillos
4 fresh garlic cloves
2oz tomato paste
2oz Worcestershire sauce
3oz canola or grapeseed oil
16oz piloncillo (or brown sugar)
8oz tamarind
3 chipotle chillies (deseeded)
6 cascabel chillies (deseeded)
1oz cumin seeds
2oz coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2oz yellow mustard seed
1½oz red wine vinegar
1½oz kosher salt


– Heat the oil in a large pan, sauté the onions, garlic and plum tomatoes until they soften.
– Add the chipotle chillies, cascabel chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and tomato paste, and cook until the spices release a wonderful aroma.
– Add the tomatillos, piloncillo, tamarind and Worcestershire sauce with just enough water to cover the mixture. More water can be added later if the sauce becomes too thick.
– Cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring regularly until all the ingredients have softened and broken down.
– Blend the sauce to a smooth consistency, season with red wine vinegar and salt to taste.
– Allow to cool and serve with your favourite meats and BBQ dishes.

bel air bbq food seafood lobster
Nancy Silverton and Wolfgang Puck at the BBQ

End summer in style

Our famous barbecue extravaganza at Hotel Bel-Air returns in style on September 6. Master chef Wolfgang Puck, along with myself (Connor McVay), will be joined by a host of top chefs, including Francis Mallmann, Nancy Silverton, Eric Werner, Adam Perry Lang, Burt Bakman, Arjun Mahendro, Victor Delgado, Jorge Alvarez, John Cleveland and Leonard Botello IV, for the ultimate barbecue party on the hotel’s front lawn. It will be a great place to pick up some more grilling tips and inspire your next al fresco dining experience.

Worthy causes

During the BBQ event, a silent auction will take place with proceeds going to the LA Promise Fund, which supports students and their families in South Los Angeles. The charitable organisation works with its partners to deliver high quality educational programmes that prepare students for success in college, career and life. Any excess food from the event will be redistributed through the Chefs to End Hunger initiative.

Barbecue extravaganza at Hotel Bel-Air

Join us for our end of summer BBQ this September or live the California lifestyle at our Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air restaurant.

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