I started grilling at a young age, with my father teaching me some of the basics of grilling on a 1970’s era Charmglow gas grill in the backyard. I really enjoyed helping Dad turn those burgers and the wonderful meat-cooking-over-the-fire smells that a grill provides.
While in the military during the 80‘s and 90‘s, I was always the “Grill Guy” for backyard parties and get-togethers. During one of those get-togethers, an all-nighter, three of my closest buddies and I grilled and consumed about 20 pounds of deer meat from a hunt earlier in the day. We were eating it straight off the grill, meat in one hand, a beer in the other. That Weber grill got quite a workout!
But I really got bitten by the grilling bug working for one of the nation’s top trucking companies as a member of the ‘Driver Appreciation Team.’ The team would travel to the company’s various terminals across the country to hold ‘Driver Appreciation Days’ events throughout the year. Along with recognizing drivers for jobs well done with certificates, plaques and various prizes, I was grilling up hearty fare for lunch and dinner. Time spent flipping burgers, getting those perfect grill marks on all beef hot dogs and serving up delicious bratwursts for hundreds of drivers a day were good times, I loved every minute of it. Great feedback from the drivers about the food soon turned into adding breakfast to those Driver Appreciation Days events, so I quickly became skilled at grilling up scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage at those events as well.
Those smelltastic experiences on the Driver Appreciation Team motivated me to experiment with a much greater variety of foods, trying new meats like lamb, honing skills with fillets of fish, cooking entire meals on the grill to include veggie sides and dessert! Coupled with my experiences of being a certified competition BBQ judge and a member of the Kansas City BBQ Society, grilling and BBQ has become much more than a weekend or event thing, it is now a serious hobby. So here I am years later, having developed techniques, seasonings, rubs, recipes and writing my first grilling ‘how to’ cookbook!
I take great pleasure in grilling good eats!
~ Mike Thayer
P.S. The BBQ book is in the making, yes, grilling and BBQ are two very different things.....