I’ve always been a fan of Chinese food, so I was thrilled when Weber came out with a grilltop wok in the mid-1970s. I was so eager to teach America how to cook fried rice on the grill, that I begged my favorite Chinese restaurant chef to teach me the ins and outs of this wonderful dish. I figured I could easily translate the technique to the grill.
The moment of truth arrived at a grilling demonstration in Milwaukee. Decked out in the ultra-mod fashion of the day—powder blue polyester bellbottoms and a matching shirt with swaying palm trees on it—I was dressed to grill. Yow!
We had a great feast planned, with Peking duck, sweet and sour pork, and other delicacies being cooked to perfection on Weber charcoal grills. The scene was truly a culinary symphony, with the sound of spatulas hitting the woks, the steam and aromas from the sauces and meats, and they happy chatter of the hungry observers.
I could hardly contain my joy as I “conducted” the fried rice portion of the feast. I was in my element. I was having fun. I was…on fire! Literally!
Fortunately, the smell of cooked polyester reached my nose before the melting fibers on my pants reached the skin on my leg. Luckily, the demonstration was in the parking lot of a shopping center, so I ducked into a men’s store and bought a pair of cotton pants.
I learned a potentially painful lesson about grilling attire: before you fire up the grill, ditch the synthetics and loose flowing garments in favor of less volatile ones. And never let your zealous love for the grill draw you too close to the fire.