6 high-tech ways to upgrade your barbecue from start to finish

If you're like us, you long to be a master grill chef. This summer, elevate the art of grillery from start to finish by taking advantage of the highest technology. No more rough estimates of when the meat is done, no more haphazard tossing of raw meats onto the flames, throwing caution to the wind and wondering when everything is done.

Grilling in the 21st century has evolved way beyond just holding meat over a fire with a forked stick. Once you have your high-tech grill in place, you'll want only the best gadgetry to precisely turn that raw animal flesh into grilled nirvana. We've found the right tools for the job, certain to turn even the most ham-handed backyard cook into a master outdoor grill chef extraordinaire.

Stage 1: Food Prep

The Problem: You want to use that family-fave marinade recipe, but don't feel like standing next to that London Broil all day, brushing on the sauce.

The Upgrade: Reveo MariVac Food Tumbler Marinade. This gives you maximum flavor penetration. In fact, 10 minutes in, this $200 thingamajig gives you more goodie inside the meat than 24 hours' worth of soaking in a bag. It does it by magically sealing up, removing all the air and letting that meat soak up mucho marinade. Your guests will wonder: How on earth did this master outdoor chef get that meat tasting like the pros do? That'll be our little secret.

Stage 2: Cooking Times

The Problem: You have various meats to cook, and doneness preferences of your guests vary wildly, and you want it all to be ready at the same time.

The Upgrade: Charcoal Bob Cookout Calculator. Don't just go out there and start cooking without a plan. Now you can execute your barbecue down to the second with Charcoal Bob, a website that calculates exactly how long to cook your beef, pork, or chicken. Enter the outside temperature on this cookout calculator; designate what type of grill you're using, whether it's covered or uncovered, and amount of heat you'll be applying; tell it what meats you're cooking and exactly when you'd like to eat, and this brilliant calculator gives you a timeline to follow. Print out the timeline, take your stopwatch to your grillside, and you can cook even the most complicated combinations of meats perfectly every time. The only downside we can see is reality: With a lot of grills, you're usually not able to choose exactly how much heat it's producing when you put on the meat.

Stage 3. Suiting Up

The Problem: You have to protect your clothes and self from nasty spills and splashes as you gleefully practice the art of barbecuing.

The Upgrade: Le Creuset Apron. You're going to need a chef's apron, but not just any will do. This is not your father's barbecue apron, no sir. Le Creuset figured out a clever way to keep grease, steam, and water away from those favorite $300 Armani khaki shorts — using that substance with which amateur cooks have been familiar for a few decades now: Teflon. You don't care about messing up your grilling outfit? Rest assured and be smug, secure in the fact that you're wearing a $40 Teflon chef's apron.

Stage 4. Perfecting the Sizzle

The Problem: When can you be sure it's time to stop grilling and start serving?

The Upgrade: CDN Thermometer. Now you're in gear. Flames are lapping all over the meat, the food is searing flawlessly, and the aroma is mouth-watering. You even have everything planned down to the second. But if you're like us, you can't quite tell exactly when meat is done just by feel. With a little sleight of hand, you can hold this BBQ Fork Thermometer in such a way that nobody sees its LED screen indicating the precise temperature of that meat you just pierced. This useful fork handles up to 8 pounds — you could use a fork anyway, so the thing might as well make itself useful. Its price is right, too, setting you back a mere $12.95.

Stage 5. Flipping Your Meat

The Problem: It's almost time for dinner, but you can't see what you're doing.

The Upgrade: Steven Raichlen Ultimate Luma Tongs. You've been at your grill for a while now, and what's that? It's starting to get dark? How are you going to tell how golden brown your chops have gotten? It's gadget-to-the-rescue with these Ultimate Luma Tongs, complete with a detachable halogen flashlight that will shed light on the subject, revealing to all your barbecued mastery as those delectable smoke-enveloped morsels become ready for removal from their fiery hell. Take the flashlight off, and these $20 tongs are dishwasher safe.

Stage 6. The Cleanup

The Problem: Hey, that grill got pretty messy.

The Upgrade: Motorized Grill Cleaning Brush. Success! All your minions are lying back, sated, bellies full of your braised masterpieces. After they've staggered home, wallowing in their gluttonous euphoria, it's left to you to clean up that blackened mess that's your grill. There's got to be an easier way than scrubbing, sacrificing valuable elbow grease on stubborn remnants of your charcoal broiling. Sure enough, there's a gadget for that: the Motorized Grill Cleaning Brush. Working like an electric toothbrush for your grill, its brass brushes spin at considerable RPM, taking care of the mess along with its built-in stainless steel scraper. It's like a steely street sweeper, turning that messy grill-cleaning task into a welcome gadgety encounter, well worth the $25 price of admission.