Celebrity Chefs Share their Favorite Grilling Recipes for Labor Day

Celebrity Chef Labor Day recipes, photos provided by Key Group Worldwide
Celebrity Chef Labor Day recipes, photos provided by Key Group Worldwide /

With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, it’s not too early to start planning a menu befitting the unofficial last day of summer. And in keeping with the seasonal aspect of the holiday, you’re thoughts are obviously taking you outside to the grill.

Whether your grilling recipes repertoire has begun to bore you or the extent of your summer grilling is burgers and hot dogs, we’re here to share some recipes and tips from popular chefs Judy Joo, Michael Schulson, Anne Burrell, and Ed McFarland.

Chef Judy Joo was an Iron Chef on the U.K. version of the show while also appearing regularly as a judge on Iron Chef America. Her most recent cookbook is Korean Soul Food, and the busy chef also oversees her London-based restaurant Seoul Bird, which features Korean street food with an emphasis on Korea’s famous fried chicken.

You don’t become an Iron Chef mastering just one dish, though, which becomes quickly apparent when perusing Judy’s tantalizing recipe for BBQ Beef Short Ribs. If this dish isn’t added to your Labor Day cookout, you’re missing the boat.



  • 1 Asian or 2 firm but ripe pears, peeled and grated
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Large pinch of kosher salt or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound bone-in L.A.-cut beef short ribs
  • Vegetable oil, for grilling

For Serving

  • Red or green lettuce leaves
  • Perilla leaves, also known as sesame leaves (optional)
  • Steamed white rice
  • 1/2 recipe Spicy Lettuce Wrap Sauce*
  • Spicy Scallion and Red Onion Salad*

*Spicy Lettuce Wrap Sauce and Spicy Scallion and Red Onion Salad recipes can be found in Judy Joo’s Korean Food Made Simple


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the pears, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper to taste until the sugar has dissolved. Add the beef and massage the marinade into the meat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator, tossing once or twice, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. The longer you marinate the beef, the better it will taste.
  2. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill until very hot.
  3. Lightly brush the grates with vegetable oil. Shake any excess marinade off the beef and arrange the beef on the grill without crowding. Grill for about 30 seconds per side for rare, or longer, if you like. If you’re using short ribs, cut the meat off the bones with kitchen shears. Transfer the meat to a platter and serve with the lettuce, perilla leaves (if using), rice, and spicy lettuce wrap sauce on the side.
  4. To assemble, put a lettuce leaf in one hand and top with a perilla leaf (if using), a spoonful of rice, a smear of sauce, a piece of beef, and some spicy scallion and red onion salad. Wrap the lettuce around the ingredients and enjoy.

If you’re still looking to discover your grilling mojo, Chef Joo offers some tips that’ll undoubtedly help you in your quest to become a grillmaster. The first applies to prepping your grill itself, as having a clean grill will maximize the flavor you create:

“Use a half-cut onion to clean your grill. Half-cut onions come in handy for cleaning. Onions have anti-bacterial properties so when rubbed on a heated grill it helps remove grit and grime. And the onion’s natural oils create a non-stick coating on the grates. When done, simply toss the onion in with the coals, which will add some flavour to your smoke.”

Judy’s second tip applies to basting, an element that often comes into play when grilling:

“Basting is a must – whatever you’re cooking. Basting not only adds flavour but also keeps your food moist. Just take any cooking juices, marinades, or sauce and brush it over whatever meat you are cooking. Don’t have a basting brush? No worries, simply tie some herbs together and dunk them in olive oil and brush away.”

For the red meat lovers at your Labor Day meal, Chef Michael Schulson shares a recipe from his Alpen Rose restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Better yet, if you’re worried that unwelcome vampires might crash the holiday party, this dish will help stave them off while you savor it.


Important Tip From Chef Schulson: “Bring the meat to room temperature for about an hour before you cook it. Cooking a cold steak causes the meat to be less tender and less flavorful.”


  • 2 portions

Garlic Confit

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt

New York Strip

  • 2 14-ounce New York strip steaks
  • Pinch of salt, to taste

Garlic Confit Directions

  1. Peel the cloves of garlic from the head. Clean the cloves and cut off ends to reduce bitterness.
  2. Place the cloves onto a saucepan and pour the olive oil on top. Use more oil if you need.
  3. Over low heat, caramelize the garlic until it is tender. This should take about 20 minutes.

Assembly Directions

  1. For a medium-rare steak, grill both steaks over high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, and then flip. Repeat for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Season with salt for desire taste.

Chef Schulson is equally adept at creating dishes from the sea, which is in full evidence with his Scallop Robata. Robata is a Japanese-style of grilling that is done over hot charcoal-like its Western counterpart that you’re familiar with. With this iteration, Michael brings scallops front and center to your cookout. And lest you think that he doesn’t put his recipes where his mouth is, Schulson shares his own Labor Day plans for this year:

“I will be boating down the shore with my kids and friends and I will be making skewers of shrimp, scallops, steak, and chicken. They will be served with amazing local corn and a tomato and peach salad.”


Serving Size: 2 people (4 skewers)

Time To Prep/Time To Cook: 10 min/5 min

Technique Tip: Use two skewers per scallop so that they don’t spin around when you try to turn them.

Swap Option: Shrimp

Why Chef Schulson Loves This Recipe: “You aren’t really doing much with the scallop so the fresh summer flavor really comes out! It’s perfect for the warm weather.”


  • 4 scallops (cut in 1/2)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 skewers


  1. Cut the scallops in 1/2 and
  2. Place first on 2 bamboo skewers, one 1/2 of the scallop, and add the other 1/2 to the two skewers. Repeat procedure with all scallops.
  3. Heat grill to medium-high. Season scallop with salt and pepper, and spray grill with non-stick spray. Grill the skewer for approximately 5 minutes (2-3 min on each side), until lightly charred, making sure to brush or spray the scallops with the sauce as they are grilling, and make sure to turn them often.
  4. Garnish each skewer with chopped scallion.



  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 shallots, whole
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil
  2. Add the shallots, ginger, and garlic, and char until brown
  3. Add the sake and cook out the alcohol
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 min
  5. Strain and set aside

Finger food is always a welcome addition to any holiday barbeque, so Chef Ed McFarland’s shrimp tacos are a must for our holiday meal. The chef & owner of New York’s Ed’s Lobster Bar shares his recipe for the delicious dish.

ED MCFARLAND’S SHRIMP TACOS (Yields 1 serving – 2 tacos)


  • 3 grilled shrimp
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 2 oz. guacamole
  • 2 oz. pico de gallo
  • 2 oz. coleslaw
  • 1 T. lemon mayo (mix mayo and lemon juice)
  • 3 slices jalapeno

Grilled Shrimp Ingredients

  • 3 shrimp, cleaned and butterflied
  • 1 t. garlic olive oil
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Shrimp Instructions

  1. Toss shrimp in all grilled shrimp ingredients
  2. Grill for approximately 3-5 mins on each side


  1. Follow instructions for grilled shrimp above
  2. Add guacamole to middle of tortilla
  3. Add pico de gallo
  4. Add coleslaw
  5. Add shrimp
  6. Add jalapeno on top of shrimp
  7. Drizzle lemon mayo on top
  8. Repeat steps to make second taco

Any great Labor Day cookout can’t be just about the main dishes, which is why Ed McFarland’s spicy charred broccoli is a must on your menu. It’s the perfect side dish for your holiday meal.



  • 10 broccoli florets
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T spicy mayo
  • 1 tsp of balsamic vinaigrette
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Toss broccoli in olive oil with salt and pepper
  2. Grill until charred and slightly soft
  3. Remove from grill
  4. Toss in spicy mayo
  5. Drizzle balsamic on top

Chef Anne Burrell has a lot to offer your Labor Day menu too, with a passion for grilling that she shares through her grilled chicken with lemons & dijon:

“Grilled chicken is totally ubiquitous-it’s on every menu and it’s usually no big whoop. In fact, it’s often totally boring. But this grilled chicken is SOOOO worth getting excited about! It’s slathered in mustard, lemon, rosemary, and spicy crushed red pepper so it just titillates your palate with flavor. Then it’s grilled until the outside is tangy, crusty, and crispy while the inside stays nice and moist. To make this as super-sexy as possible, it’s served with a perfectly charred and caramelized lemon half for an extra squeeze of flavor.”


Serves: 4

Time: About 2 1/2 Hours, Mostly Unattended

Mise En Place

  • 4 lemons, 2 zested and juiced, 2 halved
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 3-pound chickens, backbone removed and split in half


  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, juice, mustard, rosemary, red pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the mustard mixture to loosen it slightly. Slather this mixture generously all over the chickens and let them hang out for up to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. (If any of the mustard mixture is leftover, save it for reslathering while the chicken is cooking).
  2. Preheat the grill to medium (you want the chicken to cook on the grill as long as possible without burning to develop lovely crispy, tasty, tangy skin.) Place the chicken on the grill skin side down and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. If the chicken flares up, move it to a cooler part of the grill; you don’t want sooty film on the chicken (it won’t taste good).
  3. Once the chicken has started to brown and crisp, it’s a good idea to close the grill to allow the heat to cook the chicken from all directions. You want to cook the chicken skin down for a total of 10 to 12 minutes, then turn it over and cook it for another 10 to 12 minutes. If you’re using a grill pan, you can transfer the chicken to a 375 degree F oven when it’s ready to flip so it can finish cooking. If there is leftover mustard mixture, use it to paint the skin of the chicken on the second side. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F.
  4. When the chicken is nearly done, place the lemon halves on the grill cut side down, and leave them alone until brown and caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. (These will smell great while they’re grilling!)


While the recipes we feature above shine a spotlight on mains and sides for your Labor Day menu, Michael Schulson shared some ideas that you may want to consider to accompany your meal.

When asked if he has a favorite wine or beer to serve with grilled seafood, meat, or chicken, Chef Schulson said “I’m more of a cocktail guy and this summer my go-to has been vodka infused with blueberries and a splash of fresh lemonade and mint.”

Where a grilled dessert is concerned, Michael offers up a great idea to complete your Labor Day menu, “It’s the season for peaches so I love to simply grill peaches with a little salt and balsamic vinegar. I top them with graham cracker crumbs and fresh whipped cream.”

As easy as it might be to simply grill burgers and hot dogs this Labor Day, treat your family & friends to a cookout that’s kicked up a few notches, courtesy of these recipes from Judy Joo, Michael Schulson, Ed McFarland, and Anne Burrell. Sure, you may spoil them, but you’ll also earn a feather in your toque in the process.

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What are you cooking for Labor Day? What are some of your favorite grilling recipes?