Celebrity Chef John Tesar’s Current Obsession: The Otto Grill
Chef John Tesar, steak expert and owner of Dallas restaurant Knife, is obsessed with the pricy Otto Grill.
It takes real chutzpah for a New Yorker to tell Texans how to cook their beef, but Dallas chef and Manhattan native John Tesar has just done that and emerged as one of the country’s foremost steak experts.
As you might imagine, he’s not afraid of creating some controversy and his preferred technique of pan searing steaks is certainly one that is still being hotly debated by grillers around the country. But these days, if you go to his restaurant Knife you’ll find him testing out a new device to create a beautiful sear on his sirloins and rib eyes: the Otto Grill.
The compact German-made and propane-powered grill can heat up to 1500 ̊ Farenheit and has room for two thick steaks. (The Otto weighs just under 40 pounds and is designed to be used outside.) It heats up in 3 minutes and was initially funded by a Kickstarter fund that raised more than $350,000 in a month. Unlike traditional broilers, Otto’s heat source is mounted above the grate and cooks from the top down. Tesar heard about it from Nick Solares the host of The Meat Show. “This thing is unbelievable,” says Tesar. “It’s the perfect thing for the steak geek at home.”
He thinks it’s particularly important to use if you buy dry-aged steaks, since “there’s no water or blood left in them sometimes, so you need to sear it very quickly.”
So for the restaurant experience at home, he suggests skipping the grocery store and instead buying your meat from a butcher shop. Just season the steak with salt and pepper, which is what Tesar does at Knife. Then pop them into the Otto and turn them over just once.
While the grill is certainly easy enough for home cooks to use, the price tag is definitely professional grade: $1,200. While you could certainly get by using an old-fashioned pan (a method Tesar outlines in his acclaimed book, Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home), this “really bringing the steakhouse to your house.”
We caught up with Chef John Tesar at the 2019 South Beach Wine & Food Festival.