Hey Grill, Hey

Writing Her Own Recipe, with Susie Bulloch

In the world of grilling, Susie Bulloch is something of a unicorn. She’s helped set multiple Guinness World Records for grilling, she’s grown an enormous following of fans and enthusiasts, and she’s appeared multiple times on the Food Network.

But unlike her peers, Susie’s ascent to self-made grillionaire didn’t start by owning a restaurant, or publishing a cookbook, or competing as a pit master. Instead, Susie wrote her way into fame by starting Hey Grill, Hey, a meat and fire focused blog with an awesome collection of original, imaginative grill recipes like Dr. Pepper Jalapeno Beef Jerky and Bacon Wrapped Armadillo Eggs.

Finding an Identity Through Food

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It’s Tuesday morning when Susie invites us into her home in Lehi, Utah, an idyllic mountain community roughly 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. Tuesdays are when Susie shoots her weekly recipe videos for Hey Grill, Hey in her kitchen. She sets up a modest production with two lights and a single camera, but there’s nothing modest about her approach to recipe development.

"Recipes are like religion and politics. As much as people don't put those on the same level, recipes reach people in a very primal place. The food that you had growing up is influential. As much as the church you went to, or the way you vote."

“With barbecue, up to this point it’s been so regionally specific,” she said. “We don’t really have a regional style of barbecue, which is kind of a bummer, but it makes me feel excited and inspired to define and create a regional style. In Southern Utah, we have a lot of southwestern influence, and I think it’s awesome to be able to incorporate that into barbecue. Like, I have a pork fatty recipe. It’s a bacon weave pork sausage with a green-chili filling inside, and then I put a southwestern inspired rub on top.”

It’s Not Just Recipes, It’s Being Relatable

Part of what makes Hey Grill, Hey so successful is Susie’s way of communicating. “All of my recipes are written for myself seven years ago, when I was looking for a resource to learn from. So I encourage people to use better techniques, like two zone cooking, or I explain what that even is. I wanna give them the tools. Not just a recipe to cook and follow.”

She’s quick to admit though, that it doesn’t come so easy to everyone. “The biggest thing for me is relatability. At the end of the day, I’m like most of my followers. I have a family I care about feeding. I have a pretty busy work schedule. And so I might not be able to fit everything in all the time. Because I’m self-taught, I had to learn the lingo, and so I tend to explain things in a way that’s really clear and easy to follow. It’s just who I am.”

Every Recipe Is an Origin Story

As we watched her develop a new recipe for Grilled Artichokes Stuffed with Bacon Breadcrumbs, we couldn’t help but notice how naturally it all comes to her. Her instinct for flavour is as rare as her obsession with creating something new. She gestured to her microwave, where a stack of crinkled notepads with handwritten recipe ideas were piling up on top. “This one might change over the next little bit. This is a beginning. Like, an origin story,” she said, before jotting down a few extra notes.

Learn How to Make Susie Bulloch’s Grilled Artichokes

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"Food has always been a constant for me,” says Susie. “My dad taught me how to follow a recipe when I was, like, 10 years old. He taught me how to read fractions, he taught me how to multiply a recipe. We'd eat somewhere at a restaurant and I would come home and be like, okay, I need to make that here. I still read cookbooks cover to cover,” she laughs. “Isn’t that weird?"

An Example Her Daughter Can Look Up To

Being a female in the grilling world isn’t as common as it should be. Yet through her blog, Susie has connected with a community of women defying the stereotype that grilling is a boy’s club.

“In terms of the camaraderie and the community of barbecue, it's amazing. There really is something magical there. And as a female in barbecue and the grilling world, one of my main goals is to help women feel less intimidated by the grill in general. I didn't think there were enough publicly in this space."

After a short pause of reflection, she added “When I started out, I thought about my daughter, and I thought if I’m going to try to teach her about equal representation and equality, then I kind of needed to walk that walk. So I didn’t take this leap to prove a point to anybody else, but to prove to myself that what I want for my daughter is true for me too.”

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Since starting Hey Grill, Hey in 2015, the reception she’s received from women has been an ongoing source of inspiration. “One of the most common things is they'll send me a message after they've had a really successful cook,” says Susie. “They'll be, like, "My husband bought this grill, or smoker, or whatever, and I saw you cooking, and I want you to know, I did the brisket this weekend. I'm feeling so much more confident and capable because I feel like I can do it!" 

“I take screen shots of those comments,” she says, “and then when I’m having a bad day, I read them.”

Meanwhile, At The Grill…

When we stepped out back to the Nexgrill, Susie attached her stuffed rotisserie chicken to the spit and flipped on the switch. As the bird began rotating, she had a moment of realization. “I’ve never used a rotisserie before!” she exclaimed. “How have I never used a rotisserie before? I’m gonna rotisserie everything now!”

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Learn How to Make Susie Bulloch’s Buttermilk Brined Rotisserie Chicken

Every now and then, when she lifted the cover to baste the chicken in melted butter, we caught her doing something a little peculiar: she was speaking to her food. Little remarks like “c’mon little buddy, flip over for me” or “you are looking beautiful right now!” slipped from her mouth. When asked about it, she shrugged it off and said, “They gotta know that you’re invested in the relationship.”

A Passion for Grilling Something Different

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As we sat outside enjoying a crisp spring day, Susie shared more of her philosophy on grilling. “A lot of times you’re told there's only so many ways you can cook a pork butt, only so many ways you can cook ribs, only so many ways you can smoke a brisket. But I kind of think that's stupid. I'm always thinking of, like, what are some different flavours that I've never seen? What are some different techniques that I've never seen before? What if we just changed all of the flavours that were involved, but kind of kept the same cooking process?”

It’s this same attitude that’s inspired Susie and her husband, Todd, to branch out into the production of Hey Grill, Hey rubs and sauces. “There’s a lot of sauces that you buy on the market like hickory barbecue sauce or mesquite, and most of them use liquid smoke to kind of create a barbecue flavor. But why? The meat itself already has that flavor. We made these to complement food that was grilled or smoked.”

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Her Advice to Beginners

“From a beginner's standpoint,” she said, “I think a lot of people look at their grill as something different than, like, the stovetop and the oven. And it’s true that just like an oven, on the grill there’s a learning curve. Like, every grill has hot spots. Even the best built grills have some places that are warmer than others. So, it's just like any tool, you just need to invest a little bit of time into learning it, but that's one of the cool things about grilling too. It's something that requires your attention. You have to be present. You have to be there in that moment.”

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And for casual grillers just starting out, Susie offers a quick piece of advice: “Just get a freaking meat thermometer. That's the one thing aside from your grill I would say is the most important purchase.”

It All Comes Back to Family

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“Honestly the best thing ever has been able to use this platform as a voice for the family dinner... the community meal. I think that’s something that’s kind of going away, but BBQ has this way of really bringing people together. It’s just this magical, unifying event that’s so much more than a quick dinner. It’s like, when you’re grilling and you’re cooking out, you’re there. It’s an experience. The phones go down. People talk. They have conversations, and that’s one of our highest priorities as parents.”

Special thanks to Susie and Todd Bulloch, Meiers Meats & Fine Foods, and The Home Depot. For more on Susie and to find a variety of tremendous recipes, visit her blog Hey Grill, Hey today.

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