Ted Reader

Award winning chef, author and food entertainer
TurningPoint: The realization he was desperately unhappy in his work.

imgHe learned to BBQ on an old wheelbarrow filled with charcoal with a used fridge shelf as a grill. Now Ted Reader owns 110 of the fanciest BBQs and smokers money can buy and the award winning chef is having the time of his life.
“I’ve always been intrigued by food and ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a chef. My dad made the best turkey dinners and I loved getting together with family surrounded by food. My dad also used to make these huge sirloin steaks on our wheelbarrow/BBQ grill.  That was it for me. I was intrigued by fire. When I look back at old photos I’m always around fire.  I was the kid with the bike and a ramp with a bonfire at the end of it.”
Reader followed his passion for food and became a chef climbing quickly to an executive position at the Skydome Hotel at Rogers Centre.  His work caught the eye of the legendary Dave Nicol who was with Loblaws building the President’s Choice brand. During his five years with the company, Reader helped develop many products including PC Real Jerk Wings and PC Thick and Cheesy Burgers.
“Then Dave Nicol left Loblaws and I didn’t see my future being there.  I wanted to work for myself and what I wanted to do was cook. So, I started my own business and built a new brand”.

‘The King of the Q’ built an empire around his name and smokin’ personality, writing award winning cookbooks, starring on television and touring North America. But Ted was desperately unhappy. “I was on the phone, traveling, and working hard. I was carrying some weight and I was angry and bitter all the time. It took me a long time to realize I was down,” Reader says. “My wife kept telling me I was hitting the wall.  She said, ‘You’re not the Ted I fell in love with.’

He took stock of his life and realized he had reached a turning point.  He downsized his business, went back to his BBQ and started to cook. He and his wife also started a family and were soon blessed with two young BBQ-chefs-in-training. “Kids really put life into perspective,” Ted says with a laugh.
“I’m living life and I’m having a good time at it.  I want to share that with people. In life, there are ups and downs.  Now I work harder than I ever have but I’m having fun. 

I want to inspire people to get outside and cook and enjoy life with family and friends. I’m not a business guy – I’m a guy based on passion so I have a management team that handles that side of things.  An unhappy chef isn’t going to sell cookbooks.  I need to be happy to be able to do that.”

Reader must be really happy these days because he has written 12 cookbooks and created a line of BBQ sauces, seasoning rubs and grilling planks that are flying off store shelves.

Ted has this advice for people who want to turn their passion into a successful business.

“Know what your dream is and then go for it. Know what your limitations are and be true to them.  Then find people that can help you become a better business person and help run your company.”

This weekend take two cups of family and friends; add a dash of inspiration and lots of laughter. Head to the BBQ and you’ll be cooking up Ted Reader’s recipe for success. 

The Art of the Perfect Steak

Buy the best quality meat you can afford
A two inch steak is perfect
Heat grill to 650+ degrees Fahrenheit
Sear one minute each side with the lid open
Put steaks off to the side with no heat.
Put other burners on “high” and close the lid
12 minutes for a rare steak

Let them rest for five minutes for medium rare