WHEN Melburnian cook Jess Pryles decided to travel the world, she never expected to fall in love with the culinary delight of Austin, Texas.
“When you come to Texas, the one thing you have to do is eat barbecue,” Pryles said.
“I had my first taste of barbecue and had just never experienced that taste of smoked meat before. It was like a religious experience where the clouds parted and light came down.
“I became passionate about eating barbecue, which then led to become naturally curious as to how it was made.
“I kept coming back to Texas to learn more about it and in the end decided it was getting ridiculous and I should probably move here.
“We have such access to incredible chillies and Tex-Mex foods because we’re so close to the border.
“My inner fat kid just loves all of these food experiences I’m having over here, interpreting them and getting to share them with other people.”
That was more than 10 years ago and since then Pryles has become a self-confessed “meat nerd”, learning as much as she can about the raw ingredient, writing a book, hosting TV shows and developing her own line of unique meat seasonings called Hardcore Carnivore.
Her love for barbecue is as strong as her love for the US state and its people, marrying her Texan husband Chris on September 1 who Pryles thinks loves barbecue even more than she does.
Wedding guests were served Hardcore Carnivore Black on one of her favourite cuts of beef called teres major, “which is one of those little known but super impressive cuts.”
Pryles will head to Perth in November for WA Gourmet Escape’s weekend in the Swan Valley, cooking with Mandoon Estate executive chef Michael Hartnell at the Tex-Mex Takeover on November 8.
She will also feature alongside Marco Pierre White on November 9 at The Fire Pit, an event within Gourmet Feast in the Valley.
“The Fire Pit event is going to be pretty awesome and if you’re any type of carnivore, you’re going to want to be there,” she said.
“To be cooking alongside Marco Pierre White is still blowing my mind. With all the different names there, there’s going to be so many things to see, smell, learn and do.
“I just get really excited about showcasing how there’s so much more to an animal than a rib-eye and eye fillet and I love showing people how flavoursome and tender those cuts are.”
“And if you can afford to do live fire grilling, which means using either wood or charcoal or some other kind of natural fuel, you’ll notice a tremendous difference.”
Pryles said that was because a gas barbecue had limited heat.
“When you’re dealing with something where you can completely control the heat by your control of the charcoal or wood, you open yourself up to having such a better chance of nailing that dish with a hot sear and getting that beautiful medium rare in the middle,” she said.
“But the number one thing you need if you’re a meat cook is a thermometer.”
Full program and tickets at www.gourmetescape.com.au.