NBBQA Celebrates Women of BBQ Part 2

Posted By: Vic Clevenger NBBQA Latest News,

We thought it wasn’t enough to celebrate the women of BBQ only on International Women’s Day, March 8th. So we decided to add a few more to the list of great women we’ve all seen at an NBBQA conference and even a BBQ competition from time to time. Just like the last article we did, we chose these women because of their different perspectives when it comes to cooking outside. They are showing all us of that cooking outside isn’t just a man’s world. Fire knows no gender and these ladies are examples of this each day.

Angela Keevney - Founder and CEO of ROWDYDOW bbQ, a company born from a single family recipe, that has grown into the premier, authentically smoked BBQ meats food company, on a mission to be the #1 selling, globally distributed and favorite American BBQ brand experience, in both food service and retail.

Amy Jungk - Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Old World Spices & Seasonings

Jess Pryles – I’ve also developed my own line of unique meat seasonings called Hardcore Carnivore, released a cookbook and designed the JP signature edition smoker. Born and raised in Australia, she found my spiritual home in Austin, Texas, where she now resides.

Robyn Lindars - has appeared on The Today Show, The First Chopped Grillmasters on Food Network (August 2013), The Cooking Channel’s Foodography, the Travel Channel’s “American Grilled” and love doing local and national live grilling segments!

NBBQA: Why do you love BBQ/Grilling so much? What’s the appeal?

AK: My Dad’s BBQ!  Being from VA, I grew up and around my Dad’s love of making BBQ that everyone loved and always asked for. I feel so lucky that when I decided to start my own business, the idea to make my Dad’s BBQ to share with the rest of the BBQ lovin’ world was a natural fit. 

AJ: Growing up in Kansas City, BBQ has always been a constant in my life.  Attending the American Royal Barbecue was something I was excited for every year. But I was an adult, joining my father in the spice business, when I was exposed to the fine art of competition bbq. It was meeting the pit masters, seeing their passion for their craft, and their willingness to share this passion with me, that got me hooked. Today, these same pit masters are now my BBQ family.  I have been welcomed into their homes, met their families, learned about their bbq dreams, and partnered with them to develop their brands. 

JP: The biggest motivator is of course the flavor! A charcoal grilled steak simply can’t be beat. There’s also something wonderful about the primal and analogue nature of wood fired BBQ and grilling. 

RL: I think of grilling as the ultimate stress reliever- I like to call it my “grill therapy”. There is something so innately human about grilling- we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, and yet every time you start a fire it feels magical. In a time when things are so crazy and the world is divided on various issues, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that cooking over a fire is something we can all enjoy. And with the tyrannical lockdowns happening across the world, I see the backyard as being a place of solace for many, the one last thing people can enjoy before the government tries to take it away.

NBBQA: Do you see being a woman in what is traditionally seen as a man’s world to be difficult, easier or the same as a guy?

AK: It’s been both. At times, and depending on the scenario, it’s been both easier and more difficult along the way. Besides being in the BBQ world, my path as a food company supplier, proved to be a male dominated space as well, whereas if it wasn’t BBQ I got to talk about on every cold call, presentation or sales pitch, I don’t believe I would have have had as many opportunities opened up. 

Every Fella, also wanted to talk with me about they just smoked over the weekend, ha! 

AJ: Unfortunately, BBQ is still a male dominated field.  Even though their wives and daughters are often working side by side and just as hard, it's traditionally the men who are recognized as the leaders.  That being said, there is a growing group of talented women competing, running restaurants, owning BBQ related businesses.  The day they are included in Meet the Masters panels and recognized as equals by their own peers, will be the day they are no longer a separate class in BBQ.

JP: I believe it’s the same. Much as a man can do great things in an indoor kitchen, though we traditionally see that as a woman’s domain. 

RL: I’ve never felt like I didn’t have the opportunity to grill because I’m a women. If anything, I’ve often wondered why many women accept this stereotype to be true without testing the boundaries for themselves. As I’ve embarked on my grilling and BBQ journey, I’ve always felt supported from everyone in the community. In fact, I feel that a lot of women perpetuate this stereotype for themselves that “this is a man’s world” when in fact, it is open to anyone who wants to give it a try. To be honest, the only time I didn’t feel supported in BBQ was by a notorious few women in BBQ who felt threatened to welcome other women into the fold. The best thing we as women can do in this community is welcome others into the world of grilling and bbq because a rising tide will lift all ships! It has always been my goal to demystify grilling to everyone. I always figured, if my husband can grill, surely I can too! ha!

NBBQA: Are you treated like an equal to the men who pitch their tents next to yours at places like MiM and the Royal?

AK: Because we went a different direction with our love of business, we didn’t have the situation arise. This said, I want to think that all the ladies always feel an equal. 

 AJ: Since I do not compete personally, I cannot address this question.

JP: I believe it’s the same. Much as a man can do great things in an indoor kitchen, though we traditionally see that as a woman’s domain. 

RL: Yes. I’ve always felt like an equal in this world. Truth be told I’m more of a BBQ journalist over being a competitor (though I have dabbled in the competition world) but I’ve always felt like I’ve been treated as an equal. If anything, I feel like I might have received special treatment for being a woman getting into BBQ, because there were less of us!

NBBQA: Who are your heroes in the BBQ/grilling world?

AK: Again, because of our path, Lloyd Sigel, is someone I’ve looked up to and conversed with over the years. 

 AJ: My heroes in the BBQ world are the people who are sharing their passion, educating others and giving back to the community that supported them.    Operation BBQ Relief is a remarkable example of our BBQ family pooling their talents to give aid to those suffering from disaster. 

JP: Adam Perry Lang, Chris Lilly, Billy Durney to name but a few. I am most inspired by non-traditional cooks and barbecuers who incorporate really interesting ingredients and flavors into the traditional techniques.

RL: Francis Mallman, The Argentinian Chef and Restaurateur who wrote the book “7 Fires” about 10 years ago and it changed my life. He shows Patagonian Style grilling where you cook over a “Chapa” which is essentially a griddle over a wood fire. His cooking style is rustic yet elegant and he transforms everyday items on the grill or directly on the coals. My fire roasted pumpkin salad was inspired by a recipe in his book.  Chris Lilly is also a hero of mine because he’s such a great cook, while also being extremely humble. There are a lot of big egos in the world of BBQ and he is a genuinely nice guy. And while he makes great BBQ, he also knows how to develop really great recipes that are outside of the BBQ playbook as you see in his cookbooks. His brisket technique using beef base inspired my Brisket Recipe which is the number one recipe on my website.

NBBQA: What tip would you give the young girls wanting to get into this field?

AK: When the going gets tough, remember it’s BBQ you get to talk about everyday, America’s favorite past time. 

 AJ: The field of BBQ is more than competition. It might be catering, running a food truck, opening a restaurant or taking a proven recipe into mass production.  Figure out where your talents and interests lie.  Look for ways you can improve on what you've seen. Network and find mentors who are willing to teach and support you in your quest. 

JP: Get out there any give it a shot! The only person standing in your way is you. If you want to do it, you can.

RL: Give it a try! The worst thing that can happen is you burn your food. And so what if that happens? Learning to grill will open up so many opportunities for yourself as a cook so don’t limit yourself to anything, including only cooking inside! Also, I have a video series on YouTube called “Grill School” that breaks down the basics of grilling to start you on your grilling journey. This includes how to start a grill, how to create zones for direct/indirect cooking, grilling hacks and everything you need to know to feel comfortable on the grill. 


NBBQA: Where do you see BBQ going as a cuisine especially for women in this industry?

AK: BBQ for BLD&E! Meaning, inspiring ladies and of course men, to think BBQ for everyday grocery lists and a delicious alternative for breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertaining friends and family! This is our passionate mission. 

 AJ: I really struggle with this question. Why would the future of the BBQ cuisine be different for women?  Why wouldn't the men AND women of BBQ work together to expand BBQ culture.  Whether you call it BBQ'ing, smoking or grilling, it all boils down to our love of live fire cooking.  We have seen food sport, food TV and social media bring BBQ into the homes of millions of people, who are now less intimidated to fire up their grill and try their hand after seeing how the champions do it.  If the cuisine is expanding, it's because the general public is catching our passion and want to be a part of it. 

JP: I don't believe that gender shapes the cuisine, whether male or female. Honestly, the important message here is that individual minds, individual talent and individual creativity will keep pushing BBQ and grilling curves. Whether that talent belongs to a man or woman is a moot point - true talent will shine through. 

RL: I think Pellet Smoking has been really instrumental in getting more women grilling because it eliminates the whole “starting of the grill” process. When I first started GrillGirl I started hosting “Women’s Grilling Clinics” to empower other women to learn how to grill. At my clinics, many of the women said the main reason they weren’t grilling was because they were afraid to light the grill. With Pellet Smokers, that step is taken out of the equation because they are literally as easy as starting an oven while also introducing women to the intoxicating aroma of smoke flavor. I see lots more creativity coming off the grill now that more women are experimenting with smoke. I see Pellet Smoking as women’s “gateway grill” as they fall in love with smoke flavor and the experience of grilling and of course, the awesome BBQ community. My hope is that this new found love for grilling will spill into all kinds of cooking over fire and not just limited to pellet smoking.