Summer is upon us, and that means it’s time to fire up the grill. While we sip on aguas frescas and explore the best and worst things to eat at a BBQ, our thoughts turn to — what else? — burgers. We’ve explored lots of copycat burger recipes to satisfy your fast food cravings, and we gave you a slew of ideas for National Burger Day last week. But now we want to focus on what makes the best burger, from the ground (beef) up.

We tapped award-winning burger chef Ernesto Uchimura for a few tips. Chef Uchimura is the creator of “The Ernesto” burger, which travelers can enjoy on board several Princess Cruise ships at the Salty Dog Gastropub, and the creator of LA Weekly’s “Best Burger.”

The Ernesto Burger - The Salty Dog Gastropub

What’s the number one thing everyone is doing wrong when making burgers at home? One thing I notice is that most people don’t use freshly ground meat. They don’t know that their local butcher can grind it fresh for you right there while you wait.

What are your top tips for creating the perfect burger?

1. Ingredient quality is important. Don’t cheap out on ingredients — buy the good stuff (especially beef).

2. Season the meat evenly all over with salt and pepper so that every bite has flavor.

3. Pre-heat your grill for a while so it’s nice and hot when the burgers go on to ensure you get a good sear on your burger.

4. The ratio of ingredients is another key to a great burger. Think complementary, not dominating flavors — no one likes an oversized bun, a pile of raw onions or skimpy amount of cheese!

What are the newest burger trends you’re loving right now? I am noticing a trend toward unique patties. It’s not all beef anymore; there are burgers made from any animal, plant or grain in our diet.

What burger trends need to just die already? The over-the-top, add-another-topping trend needs to go. I’m talking about a burger with 10 things on it, so high it needs to be secured with a tall skewer just so it won’t topple over.

What’s an easy brunch burger that anyone can whip up at home to impress their guests? Simply take the ingredients for eggs Benedict — poached egg, ham and hollandaise sauce — put it on top of a burger patty and use an English muffin as the bun.

Do you have tips and tricks for creating the perfect burger?Tweet us your ideas @BritandCo!

(Photo via Princess Cruises)