If you're scouting for the best wood pellet smoker-grills or ceramic grills on the market, welcome to Grilla Grills! Our family of grills produce mouth watering flavor and fall off the bone tenderness that will make your patio the talk of the jungle.
In a medium-sized conference room in Holland, Michigan on a snowy November day over four years ago, I sat on one side of the table staring back at literally decades of experience in the form of five businessmen and marketing experts. One of which I at least somewhat knew, the others I had no idea how they would react to this loud barbeque guy from “down south” and his crazy ideas and insistence on getting involved in the World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest, better known as Memphis in May. I had one card to play, I was willing to sign on to anything they needed me to do as a consultant, the price tag was a full sponsorship and commitment to getting across that heralded stage and letting me put together a team and run it no questions asked so long as I got results.
Still, to this day, I don’t think they knew what they signed up for or what it would mean to the company. For that matter, I still have no idea why they agreed to the terms, but I am glad they did. As soon as the head nods and handshakes were traded the planning for what would become “Team Grilla” began.
Preparing Team Grilla for the Competition
I raced back to my hotel room and called up “the crew” and said simply one thing. “We’re back, clear off your schedule for May.” “The crew” consisted of the most talented and loyal people I knew. People I could trust with my future livelihood and the success of a company in the process of relaunching. The crew is made up of brave souls who can deal with my leadership style, who are not afraid of hard work but most important there isn’t a single person with an ego among them. Every one of them a champion in their own right and leaders in the industry. They come from all walks of life; chefs, authors, bloggers, lawyers, maintenance men, veterans and they all shared one common thread. All had been on a team at Memphis in May that had huge potential but failed to win due to team turmoil or succumbing to the seduction of the Memphis in May party life. All of these people just wanted to win and wanted to do whatever it took to get on that stage one time and they knew this was likely a one and done deal and treated it as such.
Fast forward four years a few faces on Team Grilla has changed, but not the key ingredients that have put us on stage every time we have gone to Memphis in May. The team stays committed to pushing Grilla Grills to the forefront in the barbeque world and winning without ego.
Preparing The Winning Dish
This year a new category was announced as an ancillary competition for Memphis in May. The National Turkey Federation partnered with Memphis in May and created the “Turkey Smoke” contest. With any new category, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the rules and requirements. I quickly asked Chef Sean Vodden to tackle the category. Sean is a great chef and competitor and puts 100% into everything he does. He and I worked closely to dial in my dishes for the World Food Championships last year. He was able to “chef up” my dishes pushing them to the next level. Sean and I spent a lot of time discussing the turkey category and various ideas. Sean’s natural instinct is to “chef up” all things he touches and while this is an asset, it can be a liability when it comes to Memphis in May judging. In just the same way Sean was able to help me for World Food I was able to dial in his ideas and flavor concepts into more what the judges would be looking for. Long and short, the judges want something relatable, tasty and in the vein of barbeque. After some more team discussions and us pitching ideas, Sean settled on making a Turkey Roulade.
The dish itself wasn’t complicated and consisted of a turkey breast that was pounded flat, stuffed with turkey sausage, cheese, various aromatics and then wrapped in turkey bacon and glazed with a sweet barbeque sauce for color. But that isn’t the whole flavor story at all.
Sean cooked the dish on my personal Grilla I call “The OG” over a mix of Hickory and Pecan pellets. My OG has over 2,000 hours of cook time on it and I unapologetically try to find the breaking point of this particular unit as it is my test unit for Grilla. It has never failed me, not once and has won about 15 trophies in its time.
Mastering The Art of Grilling with Grilla Grills
The other part of the story is the OG’s ability to quickly change temps which was key to the overall success of the dish. Being able to slow down the cook so the sauce took on more smoke after having run the cooker at 350 degrees initially to cook the turkey to perfect tenderness is the difference between 15th place and 1st place. Those 1 hundredths of a point are the difference at the world championship level and crucial to success and cannot be overlooked.
At Memphis in May every team has about $10,000 in expenses so everyone is a talented cook. For Team Grilla to have continued success at Memphis in May is incredible. For that success to continue to happen with products made specifically to make you a star in your backyard is exceptional. I am humbled and honored every day to be a part of this crazy thing called Grilla Grills and contributing in some small way to their overall success. I still can’t help but chuckle a little bit about that meeting over four years ago and wonder, did they have any idea what they were getting themselves into. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know they have kept me around all this time, so for that, I am grateful.
Thanks for talkin’ turkey with me friends. Until next time.
NEW 2019 Grill Lineup
Featuring industry first dual control technology & NEW tailgater Chimp
Introducing the Grilla Grills NEW 2019 lineup of wood pellet grills featuring a tailgating Chimp & new Alpha Smoke Dual Technology Controller. You asked and we delivered. These grills are equipped with the unbeatable Grilla Grills quality we pride ourselves on, with never before seen features that let you decide how you want to smoke!
The Alpha grills are the same stainless steel Silverbac & Grilla wood pellet grill we know and love, with new control board technology. This Alpha Smoke controller has two modes. One mode is our flagship, original pro controller designed to provide optimal smoke flavor. By incorporating a temperature swing in the auger feed rate, the wood smolders as to mimic a real wood fire. We stand behind this technology as we believe it gives your food the best flavor!
That being said, we’re always taking customer feedback into account, and came to the conclusion that a PID controller was something that people look for in a grill. So we put our engineering team to work to bring you the first ever controller to the market that provides BOTH our original pro smoke controls and PID controls.
The precise temperature control mode (PID for proportional, integral, derivative) is a scientific way of controlling the cooking process. It monitors the ambient set and actual temperature of the grill, and makes tiny adjustments to ensure the temperature is extremely precise. With the ability to cook using one mode or the other, you’re able to grill your way to find your perfect flavor!
Chimp Tailgater Wood Pellet Grill
This has been in the works for years now and we’re so excited to finally bring it to life. Not only are we adding new controller technology to our line of grills, but an entirely new product as well! We give you, the Chimp! The Chimp is a portable, tailgate version of the Silverbac. It stands just about 4 feet tall standing up and 2 feet folded down. It weighs 90 pounds and contains a hopper big enough for 15 pounds of pellets. Each Chimp comes standard with the Alpha Smoke controller. With 460 square inches of cooking space, you’ll be able to take this grill on the go while still cooking for the entire Jungle.
The Chimp | NEW Portable Wood Pellet Smoker Grill - YouTube
Zero Degrees? Zero Problem: Your Guide to Winter Grilling
We salute you, winter grilling warriors
You’re not crazy. You’re a dedicated, BBQ fanatic who won’t let a little snow stand in the way of you and your beloved grill. We know who you are. You’re a winter griller. And we love you.
There is no sin to grilling in the winter, especially when you’re equipped with a Grilla Grill. All of our grills are built with what we call an internal thermal jacket. This means that they have a built-in double wall construction to keep the inside of your grill insulated and running like a champ. In other words:
Burn less fuel in cold weather
No need to purchase additional thermal blankets
Full range of operating temperature
Eliminates messy, smoky blanket storage in the warmer months
All season performance of grills costing twice as much
Camp Chef vs Grilla Grills | Double Wall Insulation Test in Cold Weather - YouTube
If you know our story, you know that we do all of our testing in Holland, Michigan. Lake effect and subzero temperatures are a reality. We know what it takes to design a grill to stand up against the cold.
Pitmaster Shane Draper let’s us in on some tips to keep your grill (whether it’s a Grilla Grill or not) fired up this winter.
Top 5 Winter Grilling Tips
Allow more time for your grill to heat up
Set it and forget it, for real. Try not to lift the lid too much, leave as much heat as you can inside the grill
If you’re using propane, know that it behaves differently in the cold and you may need more than usual. Be sure to have plenty on hand
Shovel & de-ice. Nothing would ruin your dinner more than a trip to the ER. Make sure your path from the house to the grill is clear and dry so you don’t slip
Bundle up! Exposed skin in extreme cold is a recipe for frostbite. Wear gloves while flipping your burgers and stay warm
Pellet Grilling for Vegetarians & Vegans – A Guide
No meat? No problem.
Pellet grills are very versatile machines as they allow you to smoke, grill, bake, and even create wood-fired pizzas. While meat is often the first thing that pops into a person’s mind when they think of grilling or smoking, you can also create wonderful smoked food using a variety of plant-based options. Maybe you’re a vegan or vegetarian wondering what to make on your pellet grill or you have a vegetarian friend who is coming to your backyard cookout. Either way we have you covered! But how can you get a nice smoky flavor by cooking vegetables and other meatless dishes on a pellet grill? Let’s find out!
What kind of vegetarian food can I cook on a pellet grill?
First, it’s important to know what kind of vegetables work better on a pellet grill than others. Solid vegetables that tend to be larger in size work best to really pick up the different, smoky flavors. Vegetables that fit into this category include corn, cabbage, and artichokes just to name a few. Mushrooms are also a favorite as you can grill them up and turn them into veggie burger patties. If you’re looking for something that isn’t as time consuming to smoke, consider softer vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, or eggplant. Chickpeas are a popular plant-based protein that you can roast with spices and/or sauces. Another great plant-based food to cook on your pellet grill are nuts. You can roast nuts on the grill and even turn them into a vegan nut-based cheese afterwards. The options are endless when it comes to what kind of vegetables can be cooked on a pellet grill – just figure out what your taste buds are craving!
Seasoning is important
There’s nothing worse than taking a bite of something and finding out how dull and bland it is. We don’t want the same thing to happen when grilling your favorite vegetables! You want your food to be bursting with flavor, and while your pellet grill will impart that smoky flavor people love, you should also be sure to use different salts and spices to season your vegetables. A few of the more popular spices that work well with vegetables include pepper, paprika, garlic, rosemary, and basil. We recommend making a citrus herb salt that will give your vegetables the flavor they’ve been missing.
Fruits are good, too!
Vegetables aren’t the only thing that vegans and vegetarians enjoy – you’ll definitely want to try cooking fruit on your pellet grill! You can very easily smoke pineapple rings sprinkled with a little bit of brown sugar which turns them into slices of caramelized perfection. Peaches and nectarines are other popular fruits that you can quickly and easily grill up for a dessert or to add to a savory dish. Don’t neglect the fruits at your next cookout!
Why pellet grills are best for vegan and vegetarian dishes
When it comes to traditional grilling on a gas or charcoal grill, it can be difficult to achieve the perfect flavor in your food. Sometimes your food comes out tasting like gas, and that’s never a good thing, especially when it comes to vegetables and fruit. With a pellet grill, you have the versatility to use different flavored wood pellets that can enhance the flavor of your food. At Grilla, we’re big fans of our apple, cherry and competition blends when it comes to choosing wood pellets for grilling veggies.
This can be very helpful when it comes to cooking vegetables and other meatless dishes as it can be difficult to get the seasoning just right. That’s where pellet grills can be a big help. A pellet grill can help cover up some of our mistakes as amateur cooks by adding some extra flavor and take something that might have been slightly under seasoned and make it taste like you were at a sit-down restaurant having dinner.
Our favorite recipes
Now that you’ve gotten some tips for grilling for vegans and vegetarians, where will you begin? It can be difficult to put together a killer dish, especially if you are new to making vegan and vegetarian dishes on a pellet grill. Well, you’re in luck because we have a few easy, delicious recipes to help you kickstart your new grilling adventure. Below, you can find some of our personal favorites here at Grilla Grills along with some amazing dishes from our friend Cindy from Vegetarian Mamma.
Not only are the following recipes some of our favorites, but they’re also our most popular veggie dishes on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe if you want to keep up with our new additions!
Smoked sweet potatoes
Smoked Sweet Potatoes with Tina the Grilla Girl - YouTube
Quick N' Easy Pear Cobbler with Tina the Grilla Girl - YouTube
Smoked mac and cheese
Smoked Mac and Cheese with Tina the Grilla Girl - YouTube
Smoked brussels sprouts
Smoked Brussels Sprouts with Tina the Grilla Girl - YouTube
Smoked mini potatoes
Mini Potatoes with Tina the Grilla Girl - YouTube
Smoked apple crisp
Grilla'd Fall Apple Crisp with Tina the Grilla Girl - YouTube
Recipes from Vegetarian Mamma
This guide wouldn’t be complete without some input from one of the web’s leading vegetarian cuisine gurus, Cindy Gordon, a.k.a. Vegetarian Mamma. Here are some of her favorite grilled recipes with links to the full details.
Grilled sweet and sour tofu with vegetables
“This recipe is delicious and can be made vegan with the swap of Maple Syrup (or Agave) for honey. It is a light and delicious meal that is perfect for lunch preps!” View full recipe
Grilled vegetable alfredo
“This one is vegetarian with NO vegan swap. It uses a jarred alfredo, which makes it easy for the consumer. It is a heavier dish that we tend to have in late fall or winter.” View full recipe
Grilled BBQ tofu sandwich with grilled pineapple salsa
“I am drooling thinking back to this tofu burger. Think BBQ with grilled pineapple salsa! YUM!” View full recipe
A pellet grill can make vegetables the star of the show
These recipes are just the tip of the iceberg. Whether as a side or a main dish, the Silverbac pellet grill or the Grilla model can take your cooking to the next level. So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just love veggies and fruit, it’s time to see what wood fired flavor can do for you.
If you bought a grill from us, you probably received a little surprise from our very own Cindy Bagby! Cindy is our inside sales representative but fulfills a lot of roles within our parent company as well. Cindy is the glue that keeps us all together! Here’s a bit more about her.
1. Where is your hometown?
Born, raised, & live in Zeeland, Michigan.
2. Tell us about how you came to Grilla Grills.
2019 will be my 15th year anniversary! I started with our parent company years ago. I have many roles within the company; Edmar Manufacturing – purchasing assistant, Fahrenheit Technologies – customer service, & Grilla Grills – Inside Sales Rep.
3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Diversity! Every day I am working with multiple businesses. One minute I am talking about grills & smokers, the next I am helping with our biomass furnaces, construction products, and more. I also enjoy just being a part of the team.
4. What are you doing when you’re not at work?
Spending time with my family, traveling, camping. I’m a book worm so I love to read!
5. Where is your favorite place to visit?
I enjoy the heat, but not the humidity! My new favorite place is our cruise to the Bahamas (where I got to swim with dolphins)!
6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Can I narrow this down to the top ten? I have been blessed with many awesome people so far in my life. All who have helped me be who I am today.
7. What is your favorite thing to grill?
Pork ribs. Yum!
8. Grilla, Silverbac, or Kong?
9. Is a hotdog a sandwich?
The definition of a sandwhich is “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between”, yes a hotdog is a sanwich.
10. If you had a pet gorilla, what would you name it?
How to Cook a Pizza on a Pellet Grill
Your pellet grill can help you make restaurant quality pies.
Have you been craving an original Italian-wood fired pizza that makes your taste buds jump for joy? Well, put down the take-out menu of your local pizzeria and get to cooking your very own wood-fired pizza with the help of your pellet grill. Pellet grills are already very versatile when it comes to cooking some of your favorites and pizza is just one more thing you can add to the list. Let’s find out how you can create a pizza that tastes as if it came from Italy in your own backyard!
Benefits and Advantages of a Pellet Grill
The beauty of using a pellet grill is the versatility that it provides when it comes to cooking. You can grill, smoke, roast, BBQ, and even bake with your pellet grill – you can tackle just about any style of cooking! Another huge benefit of using a pellet grill is the taste and flavor of the food. It’s a fact that cooking with wood just makes everything taste better. You can choose from a wide variety of wood pellets including apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite, pecan, or even a mix of these flavors. These wood pellets make for incredible tasting food that comes off your grill. Put simply, the least savvy grillers can use a pellet grill and make food that tastes like it was done by an experienced pit master. Pellet grills are equipped with simple temperature controls that give you more time to spend with friends and family rather than checking on the grill constantly. Clearly, pellet grills are an amazing addition to any backyard and can drastically improve the food you cook and that includes wood-fired pizzas.
So, just how can you cook a pizza on a pellet grill?
Once you decide to try out a pizza on your pellet grill, you will never go back to cooking a pizza in a conventional oven. It doesn’t take a pizza master to follow these simple steps to create a wood-fired masterpiece that will leave you wanting more. Here are some of the best tips for making a delicious pizza on your pellet grill.
1. Purchase a pizza steel/stone
So, what exactly is a pizza steel or a pizza stone? These helpful devices are made of either stone or steel that hold heat more evenly to ensure that all parts of your pizza are being cooked the same allowing for that perfectly crispy crust. It also helps to absorb any moisture out of particularly wet areas of the pizza dough. This is an essential tool to help you create the perfect wood-fired pizza.
2. Fire up your pellet grill and pizza stone!
It’s time to get your grill fired up and your pizza stone hot. Use the control settings to set the temperature of your pellet grill between 480 and 500 degrees. Then, place your pizza stone directly in the center of the grill to allow it to begin heating up. During this time, get all your pizza ingredients including the dough ready to go while your pizza stone gets nice and hot. Need a dough recipe for your pellet grilled pizza? Try this one from finecooking.com.
3. Parchment paper for your pizza
Parchment paper is widely used in baking but who knew it could also serve as a valuable tool when cooking a pizza on your pellet grill? Trust us, it works great and this is how you use it. Cut out a sheet of parchment paper that fits your desired size of the pizza. Next, roll out your dough and place it on the parchment paper. Once you’re ready to add sauce and toppings, do so with the pizza remaining on the parchment paper. This makes for an easy transfer once you’re ready to get it on the grill.
4. Cooking your pizza
Once you have all your favorite toppings on your pizza and you’re ready to begin cooking, place it on the pizza stone (with the parchment paper underneath) to begin the cooking process. After this, turn the temperature down to 425 degrees for optimal cooking. Rotate the pizza and remove the parchment paper underneath after about 5 minutes. For the last couple of minutes, the pizza will finish cooking directly on the pizza stone. It shouldn’t take longer than 7 or 8 minutes in total to have a perfect pizza ready to eat.
5. Time to enjoy!
After your personal pizza has finished cooking, remove it from the grill and add any additional toppings that you like. To finish off, garnish with any seasonings that you prefer and it’s ready to eat. There are many unique pizza creations that can be made when using your pellet grill to cook a pizza!
Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal vs. Gas
How to choose the right grill for you.
For many people grilling has always meant one of two things: charcoal or gas. From the time many of us were children, there are memories of bags of charcoal, lighter fluid or propane tanks along with the accompanying hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken and veggies that came off the grill. Of course, new competitors have come and gone over the years, but the “new kid on the block” in the grilling world that’s continuing to gain momentum is the pellet grill. For those of you considering a new grill, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of a pellet grill vs. a gas grill and a pellet grill vs. a charcoal grill to help you decide on the right outdoor cooking tool for your needs.
Pellet Grill vs. Charcoal Grill
For years the charcoal grill was the standard for the home cooking grilling aficionado. Many purists claim that the flavor imparted from charcoal is the only way to grill. While many people are familiar with charcoal grills, it’s worth noting that charcoal grills come in many shapes and sizes. Here are some of the more popular styles of charcoal grills:
Kettle grills are what most people think of when they think of a charcoal grill, with a round grill set atop a tripod with a lid and a vent. Kettle grills are often a popular choice as a portable grill as there are many smaller, lightweight models available for camping or traveling.
Barrel grills are what they sound like, grills that are made out of barrels, or to look like traditional 55-gallon barrels, cut in half with a hinge and some legs to stand on.
Cart grills are basically grills that look like modern gas grills but use charcoal for fuel.
Kamado grills are egg shaped grills made out of ceramic. The ceramic material provides insulation which helps create an even cooking temperature across the entire cooking area. Kamados can also achieve grill temperatures of 700 degrees or more, which makes them great for searing or using them as a pizza oven. These grills have become very popular among home chefs, and if you’d like to check one out have a look at Grilla’s Kong ceramic kamado grill.
Now that you know what your options ware with charcoal bbq grills, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of cooking with a charcoal grill.
Pros of Charcoal Grills
Charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal are usually less expensive than gas
Added smoky, charcoal flavor
Lightweight (most models)
Cons of Charcoal Grills
Take time to light and get up to temperature (sometimes up to 30 minutes)
Takes time to cool down/turn off
Need a fairly large amount of space to use, which may not be an option in tight quarters
Can be very messy
If you’re not familiar with pellet grills you should check out our “What is a Wood Pellet Grill?” page. For the purposes of this post, however, we’ll provide a quick overview. A pellet grill will usually have the standard look of a gas grill or charcoal cart or barrel grill (with the notable exception of our Grilla model), with the addition of a pellet hopper on the side to holds quite a few pounds of pellets for fuel. There’s an electric powered auger at the bottom of the hopper that pulls the hardwood pellets into the fire pot where they are lit. From there, you simply set your pellet grill to the temperature you want and the pellet grill will use fuel as needed to maintain that temperature with convection-style cooking that makes for an even, smoky cook.
Pros of Pellet Grills
Easy to use – barbecue like a pro even as a novice cooker
Delicious wood smoked flavor
Variety of wood flavors
Precise temperature control
Set it and forget it cooking. You can literally set the temperature, insert a meat probe for the occasional temperature check and go grab something to drink
Act as both a smoker and a grill
Maintains temperature in nearly any weather
Fuel efficient (about a pound per hour of cook time)
Easier to clean than charcoal grills
Cons of Pellet Grills
More expensive than charcoal grills
Slightly higher fuel costs
Some people are not happy with how hot pellet grills get, as they can’t achieve the higher temperatures achieved by most charcoal grills, particularly kamados, which can make searing less effective without special attachments or additional features on the grill
Require electricity to use
Pellet Grill vs. Gas Grill
Gas grills are extremely popular, especially if you walk into your local big box store. There are all the brand names you’ve come to expect, you can get as few or as many square inches of cooking space that you’d like, and the prices can range as high or low as you’re willing to go. Gas grills often time come with some cool features as well, like side burners that run off of the fuel tank. While gas grills are the most popular grills on the market there are some very clear positives and negatives in choosing a gas grill.
Pros of Gas Grills
Easy to light and get up to temperature
Can achieve high temperatures quickly
Lots of available features
Inexpensive models are available
No cleanup from fuel
Cons of Gas Grills
Where’s the taste? Gas has no inherent flavor
Unable to smoke
Don’t perform well at lower temperatures
Foods don’t cook as evenly
You’ll need to be very aware of safety and ordinances from the fire hazards associated with gas grills
Can be difficult to control the temperature
While we addressed the pros and cons of a pellet grill above, there are some slight differences of the pros and cons when comparing a pellet grill to a gas grill.
Pros of Pellet Grills
Easy to use
Adds wood-smoked flavor and can be varied depending on your choice in hardwood pellets
Precise temperature control
Set it and forget it cooking.
Act as both a smoker and a grill
Maintains temperature in nearly any weather
Cons of Pellet Grills
Pellets are more expensive than gas
Requires cleaning of the fire pot
More expensive initial purchase than a gas grill
Can’t achieve higher temperatures for searing like gas or charcoal
Require electricity to use
Don’t achieve temperature as quickly as gas grills (though they are still fairly quick)
Grilla Grills Offers Scholarship for Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Student
Grand Rapids, Michigan. December 2018.
Grilla Grills is proud to offer a $500 scholarship to an aspiring culinary student with our Grilla Grills Secchia Institute of Culinary Education Scholarship to assist them in furthering their culinary education.
We’d like to give a big congratulations to our scholarship recipient, Amanda! We received a lot of fantastic entries, and are excited for the opportunity to give back to the local community in this way. We have awarded her $500 to put toward furthering her culinary education at Gand Rapids Community College.
“We are thankful for the community support of our students through scholarships like this. Amanda Barnett is a prime example of a non-traditional student following a dream here at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. She is a deserved winner of this scholarship. Congrats to her and thanks to Grilla Grills!” – Werner Absenger, PhD, MS, Director of Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, Grand Rapids Community College.
Amanda was an absolute joy to meet and as we spoke, we learned a little more about her and her future plans.
“Thank you Grilla Grills for this scholarship! My dream is to run an after school cooking program for youth, so this scholarship helps not only me but all of the youth that will benefit from my learning too!” – Amanda Barnett
A little more about Amanda and her grilling experience!
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
My career began in education. I was a K-8 ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher before moving on to culinary school. As a teacher, I created and ran many after school clubs for students, including GEMS (girls excelling in math and science), garden club, and cooking club . Cooking Club was such a success and so much fun that I decided to learn more about the culinary craft so that I could run an after-school program full-time. I still volunteer in the school garden where I taught, and I still spend a lot of time with former students and their families– we share recipes and cook food for each other. I share with them what I learn in school, and they share dishes with me from their native countries. Additionally, up until this school year began, I was vice president of the board for my neighborhood organization, Oakdale Neighbors. Due to having night classes, I had to step down from an official position for now, but I still remain involved by volunteering at community events and reading with children monthly at our neighborhood’s “little free library.” In addition to community events, I also play on a community soccer league called the Grand Rapids Champs League. It is designed to build community across the city– each neighborhood has its own team and home bar or restaurant, and you travel around the city each week to play a new team and meet new people. I have represented the south side team for four years now. I have met many friends from many backgrounds and who are involved in many cool projects across the city thanks to this league!
Describe the best grilled food you’ve ever eaten. Talk about the whole grilling/eating experience and why it was great. (You don’t have to be the cook!)
I love pushing the boundaries and helping people think of interesting ways to cook food and use common tools to create new dishes! Earlier this summer, I was thinking about all of the produce grown locally here in Michigan and how I could use more of it. Every summer, my friends love to host barbecues. The menus for the day are usually heavy on the meat side, but I really wanted to tie in more produce. One day, I seasoned up some asparagus and peaches. At first, my friends thought I was a weirdo for throwing peaches on the grill, but they ended up being the big star of the night! To prepare them, I cut them in half, soaked them in a citrus olive oil, and then grilled them face down. Once they had nice grill marks, I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar and served them with ice cream. Everyone went back for seconds, and grilled peaches became a staple at every barbecue I attended this summer. It was so fun to prepare something new for my friends and to see them get excited about it. The heat of the grill really pulled the sweetness out of the peaches– it was almost as if you were eating a mini peach pie (but it was just the freshness of the peach)!
When you think of grilling, what thoughts or memories come to mind?
Grilling is such an ancient form of cooking that brings together people of all generations and across all continents. When I began culinary school, the grill scared me the most. Cooking with fire was just not something I had much experience with, but it was something I wanted to get really good at. I began reading about and watching documentaries about grilling. One of my favorite shows is David Chang’s Ugly Delicious. Season 1 Episode 5 is all about barbecue. He travels across the southern United States analyzing “What is BBQ?” He then travels around the world and looks at so many cultural food traditions that use barbecue methods for so many regional dishes. He really pushed my thinking about what grilling can be. As a chef, it is so important to look at techniques and think about where they come from and how to execute them well. We can then put our own twists on them and continue to push boundaries and introduce our own flair into ancient and traditional ways of cooking. It’s truly exciting!
Share a story about smoking (food) and what went well or didn’t go well.
For the past year and half, I worked at a restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI. They have a smoker, and the chefs love to smoke foods! While I worked there, I learned a lot about smoking meats– and even vegetables, fruits, and cheeses! This summer, my chef was experimenting with smoked fruits and vegetables for a vegan dinner the chefs were hosting at the restaurant. The most interesting experiment, to me, was smoked watermelon. The watermelon let out a lot of its juices, and the juices became dark and had a very smokey, ham-like flavor to them. It was very interesting! The flavor was different than what everyone expected, but it turned out to be a new and interesting technique and use of the smoker!
November is here, which means it’s time to prep for all things Thanksgiving. Recipe by Mike Castaneda.
Alright guys, we all know Thanksgiving is quickly upon us and I feel the biggest complaint I hear from people all the time is how dry and bland turkey is. A lot of people don’t even realize they can actually like it because they’ve never had one prepared right! Never fear Grilla family, I’ve got a pretty fool proof recipe for a great turkey breast that can transform into an amazing leftover sandwich I lovingly dubbed, “The Gobbler”. This sandwich was actually a huge hit on my food truck, so much that I was brining and roasting 2 turkey breasts every day for a month!
You can use this brine recipe for a full bird as well, I’d just suggest letting this thing brine around 24-36 hours instead.
1 gal water
1 c kosher salt
½ c sugar
½ knorr chicken bouillon
3 sprigs rosemary and 1 bunch sage
8 lbs ice
Start by heating the water, salt, sugar, bouillon in a large stock pot until it all dissolves. Then put the herbs in your hands and rub your hands together to work up the flavor. Drop it into the hot brine and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Once you’ve got some flavor working from the herbs, throw your ice into the brine and let it cool so it doesn’t start cooking your turkey early. Once it’s cooled, submerge your turkey or turkey breast and let it sit. If it’s the breast I try to brine around 12-18 hours but like I mentioned, if you’re going with a full turkey, let it rest at least 24 hours but I’d shoot for 36.
To cook your turkey, rinse the brine off, pat dry and brush a little oil all over it and season it with some famous Grilla AP.
Set your Grilla to 375 and cook for an hour and a half or so (for turkey breast) or until the internal is 165. You can pull it around 5 degrees earlier to compensate for carryover heat.
Make sure once your turkey is fully cooked to give it a nice rest. First off it’s not much fun burning yourself trying to slice this stuff but also it ensures all those delicious juices don’t run everywhere!
Now sure, you can stop here and just serve this beautiful dish as it is, orrrrr, you can create the gobbler with a few things you probably already have at home! Yeah, you could chef it up by making your own stuffing and gravy but if you’re like me and cooking for a lot of people this holiday season, make it easy on yourself and use the box stuff.
Stuffing (I use stovetop)
Start by using real cranberries in a stock pot with around 1/3 c water. Get the water boiling then drop to simmer and let the cranberries cook down and start to pop. Once they start to soften add ¾ c of sugar for an 8-10 oz bag of real cranberries and mix well. Continue to simmer. Once the cranberries seem like they’re thickening you can cut the heat, smash the mixture well then finish with some vanilla. My wife can’t get enough of this stuff.
To finish, butter and toast your bread, stack your turkey and stuffing, top that with gravy and spread on some of that cranberry love then bask in the gloriousness of this monster.
And as always, make sure you take a picture of your creations and tag us in your dishes! We’d love to feature your work!
Grilla Grills Partners on Veterans Day Deal with PitStop BBQ
November 9, 2018, 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
6479 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Grilla Grills, a Veteran run grill company based in Holland, MI is partnering with PitStop BBQ in Grand Rapids to offer Veterans 50% off of their famous platters on Friday, November 9 from 11-6:30 p.m.
“As a Veteran run company and being a Veteran myself, we feel a responsibility to support other Veterans however we can. As a grill company we feel a responsibility to feed people great food. Partnering with PitStop BBQ for Veteran’s Day is a great way to do both,” shared Mark Graham and VP of Engineering at Grilla Grills.
Matt Smith, Owner at PitStop BBQ has been featured on The Food Network and Travel Channel. The six different platters offered include chicken, pulled pork and the recommended brisket. The platters range in price from $8-16. The platters will all be half off for anyone with a military ID on November 9 bringing the price range down to $4-8.
“This is my small way of saying “thank you” to those who served our country,” shared Matt. Just named the best Grab and Go BBQ in Michigan by MLive, PitStop starts running out of food by the end of the day so come early!
PitStop and Grilla Grills became acquainted this past summer when Matt tried out a wood pellet smoker grill from Grilla. While he uses many different grills he notes, “especially for recipes that need to maintain an exact temperature, Grilla Grills is the way to go. The grills are solid and a pleasure to cook on.”
When the Grilla Grills team first tried the BBQ at PitStop they didn’t comment as their mouths were continuously full of food.