Cory Vitiello has made a career from knowing what everyone wants to eat before they do. In 2015, he leaned in to his lifelong obsession with chicken to launch Flock Rotisserie + Greens, a casual chef-driven restaurant before that was a thing (there are now seven locations). He also develops recipes for Cactus Club Cafe, a West Coast chain that’s growing across Canada, and he’s working on a cookbook about the food he makes for his family — Dragonette singer-songwriter Martina Sorbara and their son, Barlow, 3. Here, he shares his advice for mastering the art (and fun) of barbecuing.
Scroll down to read Cory’s tips and get his best barbecue recipes!
“We barbecue in the summer because it’s such a social thing to do with friends. I love cooking with charcoal versus gas because it’s a more drawn-out process. I’m not saying one’s better than the other; for me, it’s about the experience. You’ve got to get your coals ready, be patient and plan ahead. I love the subtleties of working with charcoal — it’s something you can read about, but putting in the hours is the only way to truly get a deft touch for it. It’s about making some mistakes and learning the intricacies of your own barbecue. Mine is the Broil King Keg, and I get excellent results on it. The Big Green Egg is a beautiful barbecue, but it’s also three times the cost.”
“How do you feed a big crowd with a small grill? Well, this menu is designed for exactly that. I advocate for getting as much preparation done in the day or so before, both because I love the feeling of having everything laid out in front of me, but also so you can socialize on the day. The Miami ribs are great because it’s all about the marinade and the actual cooking takes four minutes. The sweet potatoes can be started in the oven and then finished on the grill for the char marks, or even done and reheated. Meanwhile, the eggplant doesn’t have to be hot off the grill; it tastes great at room temperature. Remember that trying to do everything at once is challenging for even the most experienced barbecuer. It’s really about setting up your menu, envisioning the flow of what happens when, and giving everything different blocks of time on the grill.”
Cory with Barlow, who likes to help with meal prep. “The more you introduce kids to the full scope of cooking, from shopping to prepping, or even just holding vegetables, the more likely they are to eat their dinner,” says Cory.
Martina made this photo-collage art piece.
Martina’s sister, architect Ginger Sorbara, designed the couple’s home. She kept the bones of the late-1800s coach house but renovated the interior from the ground up, adding a chef’s kitchen that’s the focal point of the main floor and opening up the living spaces. The window and door cutouts were originally used to bring in horses.
The kitchen has a classic black and white palette, with marble counters that continue up the backsplash, a warm brass faucet and an oversized island.
When she’s not making music, Martina makes art, like this ceramic wall hanging opposite the kitchen. Many of the art pieces in their home are her work.
Whole Spatchcocked Chicken with Flock Spice Rub
“This technique is a lot easier than people think. Just flip the chicken onto its back, cut out the backbone so it naturally opens up and press to flatten. Then rub with our signature Flock seasoning, which is delicious but simple to make.”
Whole Sweet Potatoes with Pasilla Chili Oil and Cotija Cheese
“This dish was inspired by visits to Quetzal restaurant in Toronto; one of its dishes involves cooking a sweet potato in charcoal for a black-crusted finish. In my version, you bake the potatoes in foil, finish directly on the grill, then add the toppings.”
Baby Eggplant, Halloumi and Shishito Peppers
“You want that deeply charred, smoky exterior, and eggplant really stands up on the grill. It’s a great vehicle for robust flavours — in this case, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern — and it’s very hard to mess up. The molten interior is the perfect texture for soaking everything up.”
Pomegranate-glazed Miami-cut Short Ribs
“The key with these ribs is to get them nice and thick — up to a half-inch thick — not those paper-thin ones you’ll see at markets. They keep their integrity and chewiness and have a wonderfully unctuous, beefy flavour. They’re great for grilling because, after marinating, they just need a quick side-side and you’ve got a beautiful platter of blistered, charred meat.”
Fresh Corn and Peach Skillet Cake
“Corn and peaches are my favourite summer flavour combination, whether it’s in a salad or a dessert. With the fresh cream and mint, it’s the taste of summer, conjuring up bright and sunny images. It’s just what you want to be eating in July and August.”
Author: Alice Lawlor
Food Styling David Grenier
Prop Styling Stacey Smithers