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Great grilled burgers, dogs: Pro's tips, recipes

The unofficial start of summer is here - Memorial Day weekend - and there's no better way to jump into the season than firing up the barbecue and grilling some amazing burgers and hotdogs.

And there's no better person to share expertise on prepping your holiday feast than Kevin Roberts, chef and owner of North Country Tavern in Bowl in San Diego.

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," the chef, cookbook author and restaurateur offered an insider's advice on making the ultimate burgers and dogs in ways that enable you to get consistent results and, just as importantly, leave you with plenty of time to enjoy your own festivities!

Kevin showed how to make the perfect burger, what goes in the ultimate burger bar to top those perfect patties, and how to grill up some killer hot dogs and great sides for your backyard fun.

The best part? As our "Chef on a Shoestring," he showed how did it all on a limited budget - though we did allow him a special holiday party total of $60, up from our usual $40.

"Shoestring" chefs are usually automatically entered in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition, in which the one with the lowest ingredients cost will be invited back to cook for our year-end holiday extravaganza - and spend as much as he or she wants.

Since we exempted Kevin from our $40 norm, we didn't toss hit hat into that ring. But so far this year, our Leaders Board has Marco Canora, of Herarth on top at $36.33, followed by MP Taverna's Michael Psilakis, at $36.56, and Michael Lomonaco of Porter House, at $36.82.

For the record, Kevin's total was $59.12.

And yoy can play a role in our "Chef on a Shoestring" segments. Viewers get to vote, via mobile phone, on the main dish they want our "Shoestring" chef to prepare the following week. Click here to see how to have your say about next week's main event.

Enjoy all our "Early Show" recipes!

Look below the following recipes to learn more about Kevin.


Classic Burgers

A burger is a burger until you try one of my burgers. Remember, you will want to make the patty a little bigger than the bun because the meat will shrink slightly when cooked.

Serve with your favorite toppings or have it my way - with spicy Buffalo onions and blue cheese.


  • 1 pound beef
  • Burger Bar of toppings and condiments - see below
  • 4 hamburger buns

The Steps:

Shape the meat into four round patties each slightly larger than a standard hamburger bun.

Season with the ingredients of your choice.

Grill on the barbecue until desired doneness

Place the burgers on the buns, top from options below and feast.

The Ultimate Burger Bar

These are just suggestions, feel free to assemble an assortment of your favorites:

  • Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • Purple Onion (raw)
  • Sauteed Mushrooms
  • Olive Tapenade - available at most supermarkets or gourmet grocers
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Guacamole
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Pesto

Crunch Onion Cheeseburger


  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups (4 oz.) French fried onions
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 slices Swiss or Muenster cheese


1. MIX beef, 1 cup French fried onions, Worcestershire and garlic powder. Shape into 6 burgers.

2. GRILL burgers about 10 min. until cooked through in center.

3. TOP each with 1 slice cheese. Cook 1 min. until cheese melts.

4. SERVE burgers on rolls with lettuce and tomatoes, if desired. Top each burger with remaining French Fried Onions.

For more of Kevin's recipes, go to Page 2.

Salmon Burgers with Mango & Avocado Slaw

These are a delicious alternative to a regular burger and great for non-meat eaters, too.


  • 4 store-bought salmon burgers 
  • 4 hamburger buns 
  • Mango-Avocado Slaw - recipe below  

1. Cook salmon burgers on the grill and cook until desired doneness. 

2. Place burgers on buns top with slaw and enjoy!!   

Tangy Mango & Avocado Slaw 

Serves 4 


  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 mango, cubed 2 cups,
  • Shredded cabbage, green works best
  • 1/2 cup, rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon, mustard, use your favorite, Dijon works well
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a medium mixing bowl, add the avocado, mango, cabbage, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.

Kevin's Homemade Hot Dog Relish


  • 1/2 cup dill pickle, diced
  • 1/2 cup raw onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • Dill pickle spear, cut lengthwise into 8 narrow strips


Gently mix together all ingredients and slather on your favorite hot dog. Top with additional pickle spear if desired.

Sonomo Salad


  • 2 cucumbers peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


Toss the cucumber, rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, in a re-sealable airtight container.

Cover and refrigerate. When the salad is chilled and the vinegar has really seeped in, 1 to 2 hours, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.


This is the clean version of your regular coleslaw that you can actually leave out in the sun. The pickles give it a nice tangy crunch too.

Serves 8


  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup green onions, include tops
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup baby kosher dills, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Italian Salad Dressing, use your favorite
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. In a large mixing bowl, lightly toss together the cabbage, green onions, celery and pickles.

2. Pour salad dressing over salad, add the salt and pepper and toss.

3. Chill thoroughly for at least twenty minutes. But if you can't wait, I understand.

Party Deviled Eggs


  • 12 large eggs, hard-cooked, halved
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Remove yolks from whites and place in bowl.

2. Mash yolks and blend in sour cream, mustard and salt.

3. Spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. Arrange on lettuce-lined platter.

4. Chill, covered. Sprinkle with paprika or minced parsley, if desired.

From Kevin''s official bio:

Kevin Roberts' knack for creativity and healthy eating in the kitchen can be seen, heard, and of course tasted. Growing up in kitchens and focusing his college studies on Health, Nutrition and Kinesiology, Kevin knows cooking from the inside out.

With two cookbooks in print, owner and executive chef of four sports bar/tavern concepts in San Diego and nationally known as a radio and TV personality, Kevin knows a thing or two about pleasing the young adults palate. His acclaimed cookbook, "Munchies," is targeted towards the starving struggling to find quick, simple and tasty alternatives to the campus dining halls and fast foods. With recipes like west coast wings, tater tot hash and cinnamon roasted grapefruit, Roberts' book expresses the sentiment that there is more to cooking than complex recipes and expensive ingredients. Kissing in the Kitchen, his second cookbook, aims to teach the novice chef how to prepare that romantic dinner that every girl or guy dreams of. His Sleep over Spinach and Make-out Macaroni illustrate that food is definitely the way to win anyone's heart.

Kevin was a Top Ten Finalist on The Next Food Network Star, In addition, Roberts is the owner and Executive Chef at San Diego's award-winning East Village Tavern & Bowl, one of the city's hottest new downtown urban sports bar.

Raised by a single-mother who worked in restaurants in Los Angeles, Kevin Roberts was in the restaurant business at a very young age. With a lot of trial & error and with the help of his mom and nana, he taught himself to cook at the age of 8 as an act of "self-preservation." To quote Roberts, "It was either cook or starve..."