Food Brandon Corkrean, manager at the Front Row works the grill. Zach Boyden-Holmes/Juice

Brandon Corkrean, manager at the Front Row works the grill. Zach Boyden-Holmes/Juice

The grill masters of Iowa

Published on August 13th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

We talked to three local grillers (two in the same household) to find out what motivates them to slave over a hot grill to make awesome meals for friends and family.

B.J. Hoffman, 36

His equipment: A self-described “grill hoarder,” Hoffman has a Weber kettle grill, a Backwoods smoker, two Weber Smoky Mountain smokers and two Orion cookers. “Something for every occasion.”

How long he’s been grilling: Since he was 4. “My dad got tired of me putting every stick and pine cone I could find into the grill, so he bought me a little Weber Smokey Joe so I could barbecue right alongside him.”

The appeal of grilling: “It’s the camaraderie and the fact that grilling takes place outside where you can stand around with friends and family. My son also barbecues, so I feel like I’m teaching him a lifelong skill. It’s like a campfire, you can have meaningful conversations standing around a grill.”

Favorite thing to grill: Chicken thighs. “I cook them in muffin tins, skin down with a pat of butter in the bottom. I cook them in that for a while, then take them out and finish them directly on the grill. It’s kind of non-traditional, but it’s what everyone asks me to grill.”

Area he wants to explore:
“I could do more fish. I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle, but fish can be so expensive and I would hate to screw it up.”

Favorite grilling beverage: Woodchuck pear or apple cider. “It’s sweet to offset the savory barbecue stuff.”

Is there anything that can’t be grilled: “When someone says ‘Could you cook this?’ I say, ‘Sure I can!’ It’s always a challenge to me.”

Grilling philosophy: “Everyone has to have their own flavor profile. I like savory, garlicky food, but that doesn’t mean it will fit everyone. Go around to the different barbecue restaurants in town, discover your own flavor profile and use that. You won’t know what you like until you try a bunch of different things.”

Josh Bryant, 37 and Liz Bryant, 36

Their equipment: Four Weber grills. One on the deck, one for tailgating, one for camping and a spare.

How long they’ve been grilling:

Josh: “In high school I used to keep a little Weber kettle in the trunk of my car. My friends and I would go to the park and grill some stuff,” Josh said.

Liz: “Probably since Josh and I started dating 10 years ago. I didn’t realize food could taste so good.”

The appeal of grilling:

Josh: “It tastes good and it’s fun. There’s a little different skill involved than doing something over the stove. It’s fun to change things up.”

Liz: “It’s two-fold: The camaraderie and fun you have while doing it, and the flavor that comes off it. Especially on a charcoal grill. We don’t use any gas, all charcoal.”

Favorite thing to grill:

Josh: Steaks.

Liz: New York strip or tri-tip steaks. “We love doing veggies on the grill, and grilled pineapple is amazing.”

Areas you would like to explore:

Josh: Goat. “I‘m sure it takes a different skill to cook it, and it’s becoming easier to find around here.”

Liz: Apple or rhubarb crisp.

Favorite grilling beverage: Both are fond of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, but Liz is currently pregnant, so she’s drinking for none and grilling for two.

Grilling advice: “Keep an eye on your doneness and let it rest for around 10 minutes after cooking. Take if off the grill and tent it with foil,” Josh said.

Liz: “Be patient, and practice makes perfect.”

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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