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A Real Iron Chef’s 6 Favorite Grilling Accessories

Renee Valdes
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Chef Hans Rueffert talks about his favorite grilling accessories ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Chef and cookbook author Hans Rueffert loves cooking on a grill and perfecting food creations with the help of his favorite grilling accessories.

Rueffert enjoys grilling fresh, plump tomatoes, tasty peppers and other fresh vegetables, herbs and edibles from his vast North Georgia garden to pair with steaks and other foods.

“There’s always that point in the summer where you have too many tomatoes,” Rueffert said. “If you have a grill, and you’re grilling something else, grill tomatoes and other veggies, too. A grill gives so much crazy flavor to tomatoes and other foods.”

Above photo by John Kuczala

Compound butter with grilled tomatoes ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Rueffert loves working grilled tomato pulp and basil into a compound butter, which is a kind of insta-sauce he adds to the tops of steaks, fish, veggies and just about anything else from the grill. 

Mint in Chef Hans Rueffert's garden ll The Home Depot Garden Club

When in season, Rueffert picks herbs and forages for mushrooms in mountain forests near where he learned how to baste, sauté and, of course, grill at The Woodbridge Inn, Jasper, Ga., the restaurant his family owned and managed from 1976 until its sale in June, 2018.

Rueffert and his wife Amy sold the restaurant to concentrate on international culinary tours and a follow-up to “Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow,” a cookbook with photographs by Amy that chronicles Rueffert’s experience with stomach cancer. He continues to be involved at The Woodbridge as an ambassador for its new owners. 

In 2005, Rueffert’s life took an amazing turn when he went from a virtually unknown chef to a popular reality show finalist on the first season of “Next Food Network Star.” Just two weeks after his top-three finish in the competition, he was diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer with a less than five percent chance of survival.

Grilled asparagus with grilled tomato compound butter  from Chef Hans Rueffert's grill

Today, Rueffert is defying the odds and living and eating well, despite the removal of his stomach. He regularly cooks up healthy recipes for cancer patients at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and makes time to mentor gastric cancer patients and survivors. He also sits on the board of the Gastric Cancer Foundation.

Read on to find out what favorite grilling accessories Rueffert uses as he creates incredible meals from the grill.

Chef Hans Rueffert’s 6 Favorite Grilling Accessories

Grilled tomatoes from Chef Hans Rueffert's grill ll The Home Depot Garden Club

1. Tongs

One of my favorite grilling accessories is a great pair of tongsThe tongs must be the right length though, because if they’re are too long, you have no control over them. If they’re too short, you could get burned on the grill. I also prefer lockable tongs so when you’re not using them, you can lock them in place. It’s also nice when the tongs come with silicone tips for a more delicate grip. 

2. Sharp knife

I do like a sharp knife. When you’re having to manhandle a piece of steak, or a chop on the grill, and push down too hard because your knife isn’t sharp enough, you’re pushing out all the juices. That’s why a good, sharp knife is key. There are great inexpensive knives, but in my opinion, you can never spend too much money on a knife.

3. Bistro apron 

I’m a bistro apron guy and I use it with a barber towel. I like an apron (wrapped around the waist) that’s long enough so I can pull it up to use it if I can’t find my towel.

4. Grill thermometer

Normally, I judge the doneness of a piece of meat using my finger. But knowing how to judge doneness by touch is an art. Many think it’s cheating to use a grill thermometer but it’s another useful tool. You can get a thermometer and leave it in the food or try a Bluetooth wireless one. It’s great to have that feedback.

5. Immersion cooker

For grilling, I love using an immersion cooker for sous vide cooking. I was so excited when I learned about them. It’s a process of cooking in a vacuum-sealed bag immersed in temperature-controlled water. When you’re ready to grill, remove the meat from the vacuum seal (I heat mine to medium rare). It’s the most precise edge to edge. Next, pat it dry and put it on the grill to get those gorgeous grill marks.

This is such a game changer for grilling. It works well for osso bucco and tough pieces of meat such as pork shank. You can make the most “fall off the bone” meals from difficult cuts. Knowing how to cook is not so much knowing about cooking but about timing so everybody gets what they want. With an immersion cooking device, you have complete control.

6. Grill brush

For a wire rack grill, I like using a grill brush. But to clean it right, you must have the grill going. The worst is when you don’t take the extra two minutes after cooking to do that. Many people turn off the grill too soon and that stuff gets caked on like a rock. That’s not fun to clean later.  


Above photos (except feature photo) by Ella M. Rueffert

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