Getting to Know Grillseeker’s Matthew Eads
Matthew Eads of Grillseeker.com has become a good friend of Kalamazoo over the past few years, unsurprisingly considering our shared passion for live fire cooking. We sat down with Matthew to find out what makes him tick, how his passion for live fire cooking began, his biggest grilling fail, his favorite way to grill and much more.
Q: WHEN DID YOUR PASSION FOR GRILLING AND OUTDOOR COOKING BEGIN AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO GRILLING?
A: I have been hooked on cooking over live fire since the first time I attempted it. That memory is seared into my mind - pun intended. I was 12 years old the first time I cooked over open fire. I grew up in Michigan and like all boys my age back then, I built a fort in the woods with a dear friend and neighbor. The fort was over a mile from where we lived and that walk home at lunchtime for a bologna sandwich got old and severely cut into the time we could spend in the woods. So, you might say cooking was almost born out of a necessity. We built our first grill at that fort out of stone and rebar. I “borrowed” an old Lodge cast iron pan from my mother (she never saw it again) and we cooked using that homemade grill for the first time. Bacon, eggs, and potatoes. Whenever I’m asked “What would your last meal be” it’s an easy answer for me. Bacon, eggs, and potatoes. Cooking became my passion that chilly morning in the woods and instilled in me what I still believe to this day. Cooking over a fire is as much about creating memories as it is about creating flavors.
Q: WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE “GRILLSEEKER” TERM?
A: Grillseeker is a riff on the term “thrill seeker” and it incorporates three very important aspects. First, live fire cooking and grilling is an absolute thrill for me. Some people can spend the day at the amusement park to get their thrills. Me, I get thrilled by the smell of charcoal burning, by starting a fire, by prepping a protein, by watching it cook over fire, and by slicing into it. But the biggest thrill is serving it to someone else who appreciates what I’ve created. Second, I’m not married to any one style of cooking; I’m always seeking a new style of grill to try. I appreciate tending a fire and cooking a brisket low and slow for 14 plus hours on a stick burner as much as I do spinning a chicken on a rotisserie or putting a tri tip on my Santa Maria style cooker. Finally, the term itself being a riff represents the advice I give for my recipe creations. I encourage people to follow my recipe as a guideline (or to the “t” if that’s what they’re comfortable with), but also to not be afraid to put their own riff on them and make them their own. There are very few absolutes in grilling and BBQ, it’s very forgiving.
Q: WHAT IS IT YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT GRILLING?
A: The process. The creative nature of kissing food with flame and smoke and bringing it to another level. My daughter would tell you that “dinner is never on time with dad.” She’s not wrong, and there’s a reason for that. I really embrace the process and I know once dinner is served, the journey from raw ingredients to beautiful meal is over. I cherish every minute of the cook. I tend to slow roll it and enjoy the primal experience of grilling and default to “about an hour” when asked “when will dinner be ready.”
Q: What is your favorite thing to grill?
A: This is a fun question because my favorite thing to eat and my favorite thing to grill are different. I am 100% a carnivore and as basic as this sounds I’ll take a perfectly grilled ribeye over just about anything. That said, ribeye isn’t my favorite thing to grill. That would be pork spare ribs. I enjoy doing ribs just because of the different directions they can be taken, and the different techniques that can be used for them depending on who’s eating them. To wrap or not to wrap? A good bite or fall off the bone? Sauced or dry? American style BBQ or Korean style...or something else? They are just a lot of fun and the longer cooking time allows for more time to build memories and enjoy the process.
Q: TELL US YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING GRILLING STORY.
A: I was having a dinner party once for about 12 people. I had ordered a high-end prime rib roast online and paid over $500 for this roast. Like always, I was using my leave in thermometer and set the alarm to alert me when the meat hit 125° F internal temperature. People started showing up, I was entertaining and having “some” wine when one of the guests asked when the meat would be done. I said “let me check my thermo” and when I did my heart sank. I accidentally set the alarm to go off at 225°F internal meat temperature, a full 100° higher than intended. The roast was currently sitting at 160°F and rising! Needless to say, I ruined a $500 piece of meat in front of a dozen people that were all expecting a next level prime rib. Not my best day.
Q: If you could only choose one cooking appliance to use, what would it be?
A: That’s an easy one, and a question I am asked all the time in this business. “If you could only have one grill, what would it be?” For me, this comes down to what grill offers the most reliability and versatility and in my experience that grill is the Shokunin Kamado. You can check out the review I did for that grill last year for all the details but in short: I can smoke low and slow, I can bake and roast at temperatures more consistent than my indoor oven, and I can grill and sear with the heat of a hibachi style grill. If I could just convince the chief designer there to create 3 simple accessories for this grill I could be comfortable getting rid of the other 20 or so cookers I currently own.
Q: What are some of your favorite side dishes?
A: Garlic mashed potatoes, lobster stuffing, grilled broccolini, grilled baby bok choy, corn polenta, braised radishes, smoked campfire beans, bacon wrapped dates….the list goes on. I’m all about the side dishes and the element live fire and smoke can bring to them.
Q: What's your favorite style of grilling? BBQ? Smoking? Roasting? Kamado cooking?
A: Smoking low and slow, for sure. I so much appreciate the process and cooking something over many hours just brings me happiness. Like most things in life, if you don’t appreciate the process, no matter how much you appreciate the result you aren’t likely to do it well. Tom Brady didn’t become who many consider the G.O.A.T. by simply appreciating a win. He appreciated the work that went into the win. The day in and day out, the grind, he loves it and his body of work shows it. You have to enjoy the process of outdoor cooking, because eating the perfect meal at the end only lasts a short time.
Q: YOUR LOGO SAYS “UNITED BY FLAME” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
A: I find that an open flame and good food bring people together. When standing around a fire, taking in the smells of the food and watching it cook everything else seems to fade away. People are truly United By Flame.
Q: DO YOU PREFER GAS, CHARCOAL OR WOOD?
A: Each has their place, for sure. My personal favorite is a mixture of charcoal and wood. I really appreciate the flavors those cooking fuels impart into the food. That said, I’m not the hardcore traditionalist that claims it’s not really grilling if it’s done over gas. Sadly, that mindset is plentiful in online forums on the internet. Gas grills can be great, and turn out some amazing food. For me, it’s just more fun to manage the fire and enjoy the flavors of my labor. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried my chocolate lava cake kissed with the smoke from a charcoal and wood fire.