BBQs are meant to be casual, but every now and then a summer celebration -- birthdays, family reunions, impromptu gatherings with friends -- calls for a little something special.

We called on chef and entertaining expert Vanessa Cantave for some advice on how to fancy up a cookout in a pinch.

For Cantave -- who says she refined her palette noshing on Nutella and escargot as a military kid and who ditched a career in banking eight years ago to pursue a culinary degree -- dressing up a dish or dinner table is just as easy as paring one down.

"Upgrading is all about thinking about some of the elements you would have at a dinner party and some of the elements you would have at a BBQ and fusing them together," she says.

Here, she shares her top 10 tips and recipes, plus some of her favorite summer tunes, to kick off BBQ season in style this Memorial Day.

Get A Late Start
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Start your BBQ closer to sundown and create a sexy vibe with lots of candles and torches, Cantave suggests.

"In the evening, people like to use citronella candles or torches to help keep mosquitos away, but they also create a romantic ambiance that make it a little more sexy and grown up," she says.

No matter what kind of space you have, a row of tea lights down the center of your table is an easy way to get that grown-up glow.

LISTEN: Vanessa Cantave's Summer BBQ Playlist