Nicole Uliano

Nicole Uliano

Personal Chef

5 Tips To Make Your BBQ A Hit!

With the 4th of July in the rear-view-mirror and the summer in full swing, we are now in prime BBQ season! There’s nothing better than inviting your close friends & family over for an outdoor meal and some drinks.

As the host of a BBQ, however, you have to plan ahead if you want to have fun. Prepping is a chef’s secret to any party or event.  With the proper plan in place, I am certain that your guests will have fun – and you won’t be stressed beyond belief!

Here are 5 tips I can share to make your BBQ a hit!


Organization! I’m old school & LOVE to handwrite lists.  I’m that person who writes things down and loves to cross them off the list…#typeAproblems!  I even decided to give you a list! Have a timeline for the entire day, so you don’t waste time recounting your steps or wondering what comes next. 9am wake up; 9:30am shower; 10:15am grocery shop; 12pm cut vegetables for salad…you get the point!


All side dishes & salads should be prepared ahead of time.  Cut your ingredients and put them in the bowls you’re going to use to serve.  Make the dressing the day before and keep it separate; this also keeps the mess in the kitchen to a minimum. You don’t want to use all your utensils just as your guests arrive.  You can dress the salads right before you serve the meal. As you prepare the salads, consider the presentation of the food. A crudités platter is a simple dish to put together, and it’s a healthy contrast to the burgers and pie you might be serving later in the meal. A simple design or pattern with the vegetables can make a world of difference when you bring the dish out and place it on the table.

My crudités platter is a perfect dish that I prepare the day before my BBQs. It's healthy & looks great on the table. Presentation counts!


My signature cheese & charcuterie board is as important to the decor of the party as it is to the culinary variety.

Burgers & Proteins: prep before your guests arrive! For burgers, form the patties, place them on a parchment lined sheet tray, cover them, and store them in the fridge.  Marinate the chicken & whatever other meats you’re making & follow the storage steps for the burgers.  Now you can clean up the mess before your guests arrive.  Remember, the kitchen is where people love to talk!  You want to be part of the conversation. You don’t want to be distracted by a mess you have to clean! Make sure you consider the time it takes to cook the different types of meats. Account for this when you’re making your cooking list. The last thing you want is a cold burger because you’re waiting for another dish to cook before the meal is served.

Visit a local farmer's market to get amazing vegetables for your BBQ. On the North Shore of Long Island, Youngs Farm & Rottkamp Brothers Farm are two of my favorite destinations to get the freshest vegetables possible!


Dessert! People always ask what they can bring to a BBQ, so give each guest a specific dessert to bring.  You’re the conductor of this show!  You don’t want everyone walking in with a watermelon.  

My gluten-free lemon, olive oil cake with fresh fruit is the perfect dessert for people with a gluten allergy. Gluten-free or not, I love this! Direct Message me on Instagram - @chefnikki_uli - if you want some other great ideas for allergy conscious cooking.

Be specific when people ask…they want to help.  Assign a complementary variety of desserts: fruit, cookies, pie, whipped cream.  Keep it easy! Now, if you love to bake like I do, then you should plan ahead and put your best foot forward. A big BBQ is the time to show off! If baking isn’t your thing, though, then you might want to hold off. You have more important things to put your energy towards! FYI…don’t forget about peanut allergies – or any allergies for that matter! Dessert is the part of the meal that gets kids most excited, and you don’t want to leave any kids out. If you don’t know some of the kids coming to your BBQ, ask the parents ahead of time if there are any allergy concerns and plan accordingly. The parents – and the children! – will be forever grateful!  


Stay hydrated.  With all the work you’re doing and all the drinks you’re serving, it’s easy to forget to drink yourself.  The last thing you need is a crazy headache simply because you forgot to stay hydrated.  Drink lots of water as you’re preparing in the morning.  Then when your guests arrive, rest assured because you are prepared. Did I hear someone say Aperol Spritz?  Summer in a glass…I can taste it now! In addition to wine & beer, consider making one signature drink for the BBQ and use this to wow your guests! Keep this drink simple. You’ll thank me, and your guests will thank you! Enjoy a drink – or more – with your friends and family.  You deserve it!

With only three ingredients - Prosecco, Aperol, & soda water - an Aperol Spritz is easy to make & easy to drink!


Looking for the perfect side salad to serve at your BBQ?  This easy-to-make Cauliflower Tabouli is a healthy dish that will have your guests raving about your culinary talents!


  • 5 cups cauliflower rice (frozen is easy to use & great)
  • 3 scallions 
  • 1 cup chopped parsley 
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill 
  • 1 cup of 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large English cucumber, skin on, diced into small pieces
  • 5 Tbs fresh lemon juice, one large lemon
  • 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil


  • Place the cauliflower rice in a large bowl. 
  • Add all ingredients except the lemon and olive oil; then toss to combine.
  • Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the ingredients and season with salt to taste.
  • Toss again until everything is combined. 
  • Serve immediately or store in fridge up to one day in an air tight container.
Nicole Uliano

Nicole Uliano

Chef Nicole Uliano is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America & the Natural Gourmet Institute. She has an enthusiastic following of customers & families all over Long Island. She can prepare a feast for almost 50 guests, or she can help you prepare a simple meal for your family. Nicole specializes in dinner parties, bridal showers, birthdays & Shabbat dinners. Click on her photo to be redirected to Chef Nicole's Instagram page.

Tom Kaufman

Tom Kaufman

As a life-long resident of Long Island, Tom appreciates the unique personalities of Long Island's diverse communities. Tom’s insight into Long Island’s North & South Shores uniquely positions him to find the best home for you and your family.

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