034 Jess Pryles – Harcore Carnivore

Jess PrylesTo close out Season Two ‘Living the Dream’ I sit and talk ‘Q with the one and only Jess Pryles. Jess is an Aussie who’s now taking it to the Americans, living in Texas and teaching them their own game. In this interview Jess takes us through what it takes to become an internationally published author after the launch of her BBQ cookbook ‘Hardcore Carnivore’. 

Jess is the quintessential carnivore. She has a passion for meat and has built a business around it. That includes her aforementioned book, her line of spice rubs, her blog, demonstrations, lessons and public appearances. Such is her profile in the BBQ scene that she is now a brand ambassador for several brands. If you think you’ve got a book in you, this Ep is for you!

Much thanks and appreciation go to this episodes sponsors:

Ministry of Smoke

Pit Brothers BBQ

Pure Meats Robina

Still want more? Be sure to pick up your free ebook: 27 Lessons Learned from Competition BBQ

Show Notes
  • Last thing she BBQ’d was pastrami
    • Beef brisket flat
  • She cooks on her own smoker which she developed with Pits’n’Spits
    • She made the firebox bigger, expanded the prep-shelf, and added a peach paper roll holder
    • She also has a one-off custom fire-pit
  • She got into BBQ after her first trip to Texas, about 9 years ago
    • She started her blog as she was getting into it and learning more about it
    • She got hooked on the differences and the reasons for the differences between Australian and American BBQ
    • Breed, age, butchering and genetics all play a part in why briskets are different between Australia and the US
  • The ABA crew came together as they were some of the first people in the country who were into BBQ and Jay was looking for someone with media ability to host the first Port Mac event
    • Adam became involved as a tie-breaker due to his background as a politician
  • All the different things that she does
    • She works from morning to night
    • Spends a lot of time doing admin
    • Runs her website jesspryles.com and updates a recipe once a week
    • Then she does all the social media around that site
    • She has Hardcore Carnivore, her seasoning line and merch
    • Now she has her book
    • She has her signature line of smokers
    • She does classes and demonstrations like crazy
    • She’s also a product ambassador for Gerber knives
  • Brand Ambassador – often used in Instagram bios
    • You will represent that company at the exclusion of all others
    • The company pays you to use, talk about and promote that brand at all opportunities
    • A bastardised version is someone who will accept freebies for comments
    • A brand ambassador is PAID
    • It’s a good idea to not partner with more than three as you’ll come across as a walking bill board
    • It’s serious celebrity status if you’re a brand ambassador for more than one company
    • The different between being a brand ambassador and sponsorship is getting paid
    • Be aware of ACCC laws in Australia, especially for bloggers. Everytime you post something that is sponsored, you have to disclose that it’s sponsored, even if it’s given to you
    • You can be fined if you breach those laws
  • She has both a personal brand and a traditional brand, Jess Pryles and Hardcore Carnivore
    • Her first blog was called Burger Mary coz she was into Burgers and Bloody Mary’s
    • She rebranded to Jess Pryles when she moved to the States, coz everybody thought her name was Mary
    • She wanted her rubs to have a stand alone brand as ‘Jess Pryles’ Black Spice Rub’ didn’t have a good ring to it
    • The two brands allow her to do different things E.g. Hardcore Carnivore won’t be offering demonstrations, but Jess Pryles will
  • The Australian BBQ scene responded really well to her new book
  • She stays out of groups a lot to avoid trolling and arguments so she doesn’t know too much about what the inside chatter was like
  • The process of becoming an author
    • She was approached by a ‘scout’ of sorts who lined up the meetings with the publishers
    • You can find a Literary Agent who will help you develop a manuscript and shop it around
    • You get paid an advance and if your book earns above that amount then you’ll make more money
    • Most authors live as if the advance is all they’re going to get
    • The ability to recycle a recipe depends on your contract
    • It’s very rare that you will own the copyright on your content – the publishing company will own it
    • You only have to make one change to one ingredient and it’s technically a new recipe, or even just a measurement
  • How long to go from concept to release
    • Most people get 1 to 2 years
    • 6 months of that is the technical side of things including manufacturing
    • Jess had 3 months to get her manuscript together and get to Australia to shoot her book
    • All the photos in the book were shot in 8 days, 80 recipes in total
    • She used a food stylist who put the shots together – just because your a recipe creator, doesn’t mean you can style
    • Food stylists will have various props and tricks that you won’t know about
  • Her inspirations come from travelling and trying different chef’s foods and she has subscriptions to several food magazines
  • How to tell a good contract from a not-so-good contract
    • Publishing contracts are a different beast to regular contracts
    • Seek a Literary / Entertainment Lawyer immediately
  • The hardest thing about producing the book
    • The photography shoot
    • A kitchen that she didn’t know and equipment that she hadn’t used
    • She got through it by putting her head down and her bum up and plowing through it
  • The easiest thing was some of the recipes – some of them just came together really easily
    • E.g. the pickle brined chicken nuggets
  • How does she rate being an author as a profession?
    • Very few people are actually an author by profession
    • Being an author gives you exposure and credibility
    • Her website gets 300,000 visits per month
  • How did she come to live in America and do so well in BBQ over there?
    • She fell in love with BBQ while visiting Texas
    • She’s worked hard in an area of expertise and people are listening to it
    • You’ve got to be saying things that people NEED to hear
  • The toughest thing about designing her Signature pits
    • Worrying that she was going to leave something out and worrying that she was going over the top
    • Larger units are easier to cook on than a smaller unit as it’s easier to keep a bigger fire running steadier than a smaller fire
  • What was the first thing she BBQ’d successfully and what are her top tips for a romantic BBQ for two?
    • Pork ribs were always the easiest thing for her to cook
    • She’s not sure about romantic as she isn’t sure that smoke is a sexy smell
    • Try to find something you can cook together
  • Her Venison recipe recommendations
    • Back straps a suitable for smoking, but not a lot of cuts of venison are
    • If you smoke it and then braise it, it will be a lot better
    • It doesn’t respond to smoke particularly well as it’s so lean
  • What advice does Jess have for females getting into BBQ?
    • Don’t worry about being female – just focus on being the best BBQer you can be
  • What Aussie BBQ traits has she identified and what impact has the Aussie scene had on the American scene?
    • She has scene a lot of interesting things like Brahman hump. That definitely spread around the world. The humps are much bigger in Australia and Brazil than the rest of the world though
    • The comp scene is where Australia has a chance to shine – how the comps run, how they’re staggered etc
  • How to get companies to send products to be reviewed?
    • The most important thing to do is get together a ‘Media Kit’ – a .pdf file that tells people why they should work with you
    • Reach out on Instagram and ask for an email address to pursue professional contact – don’t just put out a DM on the dunny
    • Don’t be too casual in your communications
  • How to choose rubs to use?
    • If you’re cooking at home, just simply use something that you love the flavour of
    • If you’ve cooking for comps, try and find the flavour profiles that the judges are looking for
  • Jess’ three top tips for people wanting to write their own cookbooks?
    • Don’t focus on the cookbook, focus on the quality of the content
    • Build it and they will come
    • If you want people to visit your website, don’t build a website and then promote it like crazy, create amazing content first
    • Focus on the content and if the content is reward worthy, the rewards will come