Learn how to 'cue like a pro

Whether you grill marinated tri-tip or spice-rubbed ribs over a charcoal-fired kettle or gas-fueled range, the California backyard is the summertime site for some of the best ‘cue going.

Of course, open-minded backyard pitmasters are always eager to sharpen their our ‘cue skills, and David Hill is the guy to teach them. He and wife Jennifer co-own the BBQ Pro in Fair Oaks. Its slogan: “Everything for the pitmaster.”

It’s got more ‘cue stuff in one place than we’ve ever seen — rubs and sauces, grill brushes and marinade injectors, bags of oak, mesquite and hickory lump charcoals, and bags of real wood chips and chunks, including cherry, alder, apple, pecan, almond and hard-to-find red oak, the wood of choice for Santa Maria-style open-pit barbecue.

The BBQ Pro is also a dealership for the Big Green Egg, a high-fiber ceramic grill with roots in the “mushikamado” cooker, used for centuries in Japan.

The Hills regularly host private barbecue classes on site, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. for $50 (10140 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; 916-595-7444; ).

We attended last Sunday’s tri-tip seminar and learned a lot. At the end of the class, we feasted on tri-tip cooked three ways, paired with Jennifer Hill’s side dishes. Typically, they include the likes of grilled avocado and peppers, smoked mac ‘n’ cheese, coleslaw, pinquito beans, artisan bread and, for dessert, toasted strawberry shortcake.

Check out this schedule of upcoming classes. Go, learn, eat.

Aug. 17: chicken

Sept. 14: wood-fired pizza

Oct. 12: brisket

Nov. 9: turkey

Dec. 7: prime rib

Jan. 11: seafood