- June 17, 2024

Summer Grilling Tips With Celebrity BBQ Chef Melissa Cookston


On a hot summer evening in Austin, the best place to be is underneath a tree with a nice cold drink. But Diamond Crystal Salt Co. kicked it up a notch with an event featuring an amazing meal prepared by a celebrity BBQ chef.

Diamond Crystal Salt Co. hosted a Salty Smoke Showdown in South Austin. The event combined their quality salt and steaks from Texas’ own Four Sixes Ranch, with Seven Time World BBQ Champion and BBQ Hall of Famer, Melissa Cookston.

Melissa Cookston attends the Diamond Crystal Salt Summer Grilling event at Vuka Bouldin Creek on June 04, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Diamond Crystal Salt )

Invitees kicked off the event underneath the Texas oak trees with cocktails and a line dancing lesson to get everyone in the Texas mood. Chef Cookston then held a live cooking demonstration to recreate one of her favorite summertime recipes, the Ultimate Steak Salad with Watercress with Spicy Herb Vinaigrette. The demo was followed by a multi-course dinner which included potato salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and Chef Cookston’s steak and brisket, smoked on a Traeger Grill. The whole night was a special mix of delicious food with a southern flare.

You may remember Cookston as one of the judges from Netflix’s American Barbecue Showdown. Or perhaps you have even eaten at her restaurant, Memphis BBQ Co. in Horn Lake, Mississippi.

The steaks also have their claim to fame, hailing from Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. The ranch was prominently featured in the TV show, Yellowstone, and served as one of the show’s shooting locations.

Austin.com asked Cookston to share a few summer grilling tips perfect for Texas summer.

Melissa Cookston Texas Summer Grilling Tips

Condiment holders help keep things organized! Done with that case of beer? Save the six pack holders – they make great caddies for hot sauce, condiments or utensil and napkin holders, as well as Cookston’s favorite seasoning for grilling, Diamond Crystal Salt Co.’s Kosher Salt Flakes

One of her favorite tips is freezing bottled water. The bottles can be used to help keep food cold, then provide ice cold water to drink as they melt.

“Slider Bars” are always a hit, and come with the benefit of being able to prepare some items ahead of time! Bring some pulled pork, braised beef already cooked, and quickly grill mini burger patties and sausages at the game. Your guests will love the variety, and you’ll still have time to enjoy the tailgate without working so hard.

Keep it safe! Skip the lighter fluid and bring a charcoal starter, or use fire starters. You don’t need a roaring inferno to get charcoal going, and you sure don’t need your food to taste like petroleum.

Make your own chafing dish with bricks and small cans of sterno. Top the bricks with a cast iron skillet filled with your famous pulled pork, shredded beef or queso dip. Everyone will remark how stylish and smart your summer spread is!

About the writer:

Tania Ortega has been writing about events and food in Austin for more than a decade and enjoys telling stories that connect the reader with someone else’s human experience. She lives in Austin and loves live music, happy hour and her dachshunds, Nibbler and Ziggy.