By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 28, 2013 at 9:03 AM

A warmth-starved populace has likely already pulled out the grill, despite the temperature ups and downs we’ve endured this spring in southeast Wisconsin. So, there’s no better time to brush up on your grill skills.

As part of its extremely popular annual Kohler Festival of Beer, The American Club has lassoed Certified Executive Chef James Murray – who doubles as the national foodservice marketing manager for the National Pork Board – to lead Grilling University on Saturday, June 1 from 10 until 11:30 a.m.

The event, which takes place in the main pavilion, also features the participation of Kohler Chef Paul Smitala, who is a pro at teaching adults and children how to cook.

The students will learn about cuts of pork that are perfect for grilling – porterhouse chops, T-bone chops, ribeye chops and boneless New York and ribeye chops – and techniques for perfect results every time.

Then, the students will grill their lunch under the watchful eyes of the chefs.

"This is the first time we’ll be holding a ‘grill your own’ event outside where each participant will get their own grill to create a meal," says Smitala, who will also take part in the Festival’s annual Shorts & Chefs grilling competition.

"We have a great format in place for teaching cooking classes so this format will be even more fun, and include a little beer which is always my favorite addition when grilling!"

While many Festival of Beer events are recurring favorites, Grilling University is making its debut in 2013.

"The idea grew out of the idea to make our Demonstration Kitchen experience even more engaging for the guests," says Tricia Rathermal, special events manager, hospitality and real estate group.

"With Grilling University we are able to teach through doing rather than just speaking about it. I think people will really enjoy this aspect and be excited to get home and try out the tips and tricks we share. Grilling is a fun activity for any cook – from a beginner to an expert – and the possibilities are endless."

At the inaugural "iron institute," Chef Murray will explain how butchers create the cuts featured. He’ll demonstrate proper brining and seasoning methods, the correct grilling techniques and the best ways to gauge doneness without sacrificing flavor and tenderness.

But don’t underestimate how much fun you’ll have along the way. Smitala, who is known for his home-grown kitchen gear fueled by power tools, is a master of teaching folks their way around the kitchen.

"What’s so exciting about teaching in the kitchen is no matter the age when someone is excited and interested in learning, it makes it a lot of fun for me," he says. "I’ve had a lot of fun doing Demonstration Kitchen sessions many times.

"The great thing about working with kids is how they use their imagination and creativity. Adults with passion for cooking bring a lot more information to the table. It is enjoyable for me to learn from them, as well."

Tickets for the event are limited and cost $50. They are available online.

Meanwhile, Smitala says he’s also stoked for the fourth installment of another grilling event at the festival.

"Shorts & Chefs is one of my favorites," he enthuses. "A variety of chefs from the area are paired up with a brewery and we aim to create the best grilled meal and pairing, and guests get to vote on the dishes.

"I have yet to win but I won one of our cooking competitions at last year’s Kohler Food & Wine Experience, so I’m looking forward to trying to take home the gold at Kohler Festival of Beer as well!"

Shorts & Chefs takes place from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., on Saturday, June 1, and tickets are $47.25. A complete schedule of Festival of Beer events – including many free events – is here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.