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Top Grilling Accessories of a Pro Pit Master

Eight essential grilling accessories a professional chef and pit master uses when he's grilling at home.

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Rick Moonen Grilling PortraitCourtesy of Rick Moonen

Peek Inside a Pro Pit Master’s Toolbox

When a pro pit master prepares to fire up the coals, char wood or gas grill, he does it with the right tools in hand! Rick Moonen, a grilling expert and master development chef for Perry’s Restaurants, shares some of the essential grilling accessories he keeps within reach every time he grills.

Whether for safety, convenience or ensuring his cuisine is cooked to perfection, here are the grilling accessories Chef Moonen can’t do without.

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Heat-Resistant Gloves

“First and foremost,” says Moonen, “you need a good pair of heat-resistant gloves that can slip on and off easily, since you’ll be taking them on and off constantly.”

We know it’s tempting to skip the gloves. But they’re essential for protecting your hands and arms against the high heat of grills, smokers and pizza ovens, as well as flying grease and embers. We like these highly-rated gloves from Geekhom. They’re long enough to protect your forearms, but still easy to put on, take off and clean.

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Long Wire Grill Brush

“A good stiff wide wire brush with a long handle is crucial to use when the grill has been heated and all previous food particles have been incinerated to carbon,” says Moonen. “As a quick cleaning tool, it’s indispensable.”

We like this heavy-duty model from MaxxGrill for its comfort handle and versatility. It doubles as a scraper, and the stainless steel bristle pad is replaceable.

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Long BBQ Tongs

“A pair of long sturdy tongs will keep you in control,” says Moonen. “And they double as a way to spread hot coals as well as flip and prod your food items.” These Nexgrill tongs are long enough to keep hands away from the heat, and HomeDepot.com reviewers appreciate their heat resistance and durable construction.

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Long Spatula

“A long, flat, flexible spatula is a lifesaver when you are grilling items that would fall apart if you tried to handle them with a pair of tongs,” says Moonen.

This 21-inch flexible spatula with a wooden handle allows plenty of room between your hands and a hot grill. Moonen reinforces the handles of his grilling tongs and spatula with heat-resistant tape, like this electrical tape that is heat-resistant up to 1,760 F. “This serves two purposes: To keep the handles cool to touch, as well as give me a better grip,” he says.

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Bellows

A bellows is a hand-operated device that pumps air to stoke a fire. “Because you can never predict the wind situation when grilling, you have to be prepared to take charge of what the fuel you’re burning needs to perform correctly for your dish.” says Moonen. “Having a good bellows will allow you to coax intense heat when needed.”

This top-rated bellows from TJ.Moree delivers a strong blast of air right where your fire needs it.

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Starter Chimney

“I always burn char wood whenever I grill,” says Moonen. “It burns hot and fast. If I need a longer cook time I will burn fruit woods or hardwoods on top of the char wood.”

To start char wood chunks, Moonen uses a starter chimney, which creates a natural updraft. “It’s fast and easy to light and the results are perfect,” he says. Weber makes a few simple, efficient models of starter chimneys, also called charcoal chimneys.

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Meat Thermometer

“A small meat thermometer is crucial to check internal temperatures,” says Moonen. This simple thermometer gives an accurate digital readout. Or you can get really fancy with a programmable Meater Plus thermometer with Bluetooth technology, which allows you to monitor food from afar (though you should never leave a grill unattended!).

And here’s a pro pit-master tip from Moonen: “Always remember that food continues to cook after being removed from the heat source, and time your grilling accordingly.”

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Chef’s Apron

While this isn’t one of Chef Moonen’s must-have grilling items, a heavy-duty chef’s apron protects clothing from splatters, sparks and BBQ sauce dribbles. Add pockets, and you’ve got a place to keep your grilling tools right at hand.

This pocketed apron from G.U.S. even has a transparent plastic window for your phone, allowing you to swipe and make calls without missing a beat at the grill.

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