Christie Vanover of Girls Can Grill
1. What sort of work or play were you doing with food before you started your blog?
I’ve worked in government public affairs most of my career. I currently work for the National Park Service.
2. What drew you to food as a hobby or profession?
I’ve always loved cooking, because I love the joy it brings people. Food just naturally brings people together.
3. Why did you decide to start a food blog over other food-related businesses or professions?
I started blogging in 2010. I was doing a bit of catering and people would ask me for my recipes. At one point, someone recommended I start a blog, so others could easily find my recipes whenever they wanted. Honestly, it ended up allowing me to find my recipes easier, too. I transitioned that blog to a grilling-focused blog (Girls Can Grill) in 2015.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting your own food blog, and how did you overcome that challenge?
The most difficult part about blogging is standing out among the crowd. My first blog was focused on re-creating dishes inspired by places I had traveled as an Army wife. The recipes are good and the content is good, but I just felt like I needed to find my niche. I realized I was grilling a lot of my dishes, and I absolutely love to grill. So after a great pep talk from my dear blogger friend at Ally’s Kitchen, I took the leap and transitioned to GirlsCanGrill.com. I kept my other site live and started a whole new site with a new brand and new direction. It was the best decision I could have made for my food career.
5. When did you realize that your food blog was successful?
I started realizing I was onto something when brands would reach out to me, asking me to use their products in my recipes. As I transitioned to my current blog, those opportunities were even greater and I started getting calls from national media outlets, podcast producers and even casting agents. Again, it’s because I found my niche.
6. What is your favorite food or type of food to cover on your blog?
My recipes are usually protein focused. I love my veggies, but I really enjoy cooking down a hunk of meat for several hours until it’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I’ve also become a competitive pitmaster, so in addition to backyard grilling and BBQ recipes, I also share my competition BBQ tips.
7. How do you discover or create new recipes and foods to cover on your blog?
Inspiration for my recipes comes in many forms. Sometimes it is brand focused. For instance, if a sponsor has a certain request. Other times, I’m simply inspired by what looks fresh at the grocery. I’m also constantly watching food shows, browsing social media and reading magazines to learn about new cooking techniques, styles and ingredients.
8. Which of the foods on your blog do you eat most in your own kitchen?
Definitely, pork belly burnt ends. I love them on tacos, for breakfast, you name it. We also eat a lot of steak and eggs.
9. If you could only recommend one recipe or dish to your readers, which recipe or dish would you recommend?
It would be my no-fail-way to cook brisket. When I first tried making brisket, it was horrible. I didn’t think I would ever get it right. I studied. I practiced. And I perfected. This post on my blog breaks down what I learned to help everyone pull off a winning brisket. And the reviews have been great, so it’s a method that works.