Episode 027 - Author, Host, and Hardcore Carnivore™, Jess Pryles

Join as the founder of Hardcore Carnivore™, Jess Pryles shares her experience as a chef and how she used her talents to create her brand. She’s the host of Hulu™'s BBQuest, An Iowa State University Alumni in Meat Science, and has appeared on The Today Show and  Food Network.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast, where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up. Joining us on the Kick Your Boots Up podcast today is none other than the legendary world-renowned. I'm gonna go ahead and say that, Jess Pryles. I am a huge fan personally, but I'm so excited for you guys to get to know this wonderful woman a little bit more this week on this week's episode, but before we get to know her from her perspective, let me just kind of toot her horn a little bit and tell you guys a little bit about her background and where she came from. So starting off she, she grew up in Melbourne, Australia. So that's a fun story in itself. She moved to Austin, Texas, and we're gonna dive right into that how you go from Auburn to Austin and everything in between there. And there's one kind of common ground, and it's meat. She's a founder of Hardcore Carnivore™, which is meat seasonings and flavorings. I'll let her explain more about that, too. She's a co-host of hulu™'s BBQuest, a fun show on hulu™. She's actually this is my most important thing I'm most interested in with her is a Meat Science Grad Student at Iowa State University. So not only is she a wonderful boss babe, she's also just hitting the books hard trying to learn the best she can about meat to give her clients and really everyone that enjoys her product the best possible opportunity for the science behind why we eat meat and why it's so good. She has been on the Today Show and the Food Network, getting to cook and show her recipes. Explain the barbecue way of life to the world out there that might not know about it. And she's also unknown or calls herself as a meat myth buster. And I love that term so much, Jess, thank you for taking the time to be here on the Kick Your Boots Up podcast today.

Jess Pryles: Thank you. That's such a nice intro. I always feel like maybe I need someone like you follow me around in case I'm too bashful to do that good of a job introducing myself.

Taylor McAdams: Absolutely. It's hard to talk about yourself. And that's why you get to have opportunities like this where normally you're talking about your brand, or you're talking about other things that it's easier to talk about because it's not yourself. But the Kick Your Boots Up corner is all about that. So I'm just we're gonna dive right into it if you don't mind. And I'm curious, I know everyone out there is wondering, How in the world did you get from Auburn to Austin talk about that.

Jess Pryles: It's so I'm actually from Melbourne. borns motion most Americans, and really it was I'd come to Texas on a vacation. Australians love to travel like nothing is near Australia. So we're very good about going other places to check them out. And I was on just on a vacation. I came to Austin for the first time, you know, many, many, many, many years ago, and just loved it and fell in love with the city and had my first taste of barbecue and fell in love with Texas and the Texas way of life got a pair of boots took them back home. They didn't fit in quite as well in Melbourne. But you know, it was it was just Australians have a really good knack for travel. But I got bit real quickly by the Texas bug. And then, over the years, I wanted to learn more about even more barbecue learn more about how it was made. And every time, I would come back to do that. And come back to Texas, I would sort of, you know, expand my friend group and have these new experiences and eat more barbecue but also fall in love with Texas A little more. And then it just got to the stage where it's like, okay, I think it's time I think it's time to move. And so, in 2015, I immigrated here.

Taylor McAdams: Wow, that is incredible. And it's almost been a decade in Austin and that's going to be fun in a few years talking about that. But one thing that really stood out to me was the fact that you just yeah, you loved it so much that you moved and I've got to I've got to say Texas is really excited to have you because from what I hear the barbecue is amazing. I've got to put it on my bucket list now to actually eat your barbecue, and I'm going to talk about how good Hardcore Carnivore™ the products are there and a little bit but we're gonna kind of back it up just a little bit and I apologize for getting your your town wrong. Oh my gosh. But let's talk about what it was like living in Australia growing up. Maybe talk about barbecue there and what your idea was of it was as a kid growing up.

Jess Pryles: So Melbourne is a really big city. It's 5 million people that in Sydney are the two biggest cities, and it's very urban. And it's very like Sydney is kind of more LA, Melbourne’s more New York. So it's got a lot of art galleries and museums and cultural stuff. And there's no real Western culture in Melbourne. There isn't some of the, like, smaller rural towns, you know, but this is a big city, right? So there wasn't a lot of your listeners probably have heard of the old shrimp on the barbie joke, right? Yes. The funny thing about the shrimp on the barbie joke is that that was an ad that they made for Americans because we don't even call them shrimp in Australia. We We call them frauds. So it's like, the whole thing is the big lie, right? But the traditional culture of BBQ in Australia is like, not very good. To be honest with you, it was kind of like getting a flat top getting the cheapest sausages at the grocery store, and just sort of burning them and sticking them in a piece of white bread, you know, pretty basic stuff. And when I would come over to Texas, you know, and see what barbecue was like here that people really took pride in the outdoor setups. It wasn't just like, yeah, I gotta go out there for seven minutes each side and come back in. What else can I make on the barbecue? What else can I make on the smoker? What else can I make on the grill? So over the last few years, I had a lot to do with it in its infancy before I moved to Texas, which is things like the Australasian barbecue Alliance, which is a barbecue competition. Body basically that I helped co-found, but it didn't exist. It just the whole concept of low and slow cooking indirect like barbecue is, you know, it just did not exist in Australia because it wasn't part of our traditional culture back there. But over the last few years, it has exploded in popularity. So that's why it was such a learning moment to travel over here because I've never seen anything like it before. I'd never tasted anything like it before. Like the closest you would get is maybe like smoked sausage or something in the German style delicatessens, which is, you know, ironically, where Texas barbecue has its roots. But I don't I wouldn't say there was much of a barbecue culture in Australia growing up. 

Taylor McAdams: You know, I am mind-blown Jess. You just the podcast could end right now. Because I don't think a lot of people out there knew that this shrimp on the barbie joke was actually just made for us and almost like a joke to us. That is so funny. And I'm so glad that you just shared that to the to our listeners out there. And I'm sure they have a million more questions to ask you since you've enlightened us all. But one thing that I think is really funny is in the state of Texas alone, I'm a Texas transplant as well. I'm from Oklahoma, so it's very similar. But in the state of Texas alone, they take barbecue so seriously, we were just at our Texas FFA Convention. And we noticed that there's a Texas Youth Barbecue Association. And we were like what in the world. national, international statewide, everything. We were like, What in the world there's a whole organization for this. But sure enough, they're teaching kids to you know how to how to properly prepare meat. And I think that's really cool about you, too, is you've really taken the next step as well. And one of your videos on social media is talking about how you thought you were ordering brisket in Australia all the time. And then you came to Texas and realized there's multiple different types of brisket, which I still am clueless about. So I'm just I'm genuinely curious, and I gotta know, how did you fall in love truly with me? How did you decide that you were going to make meat your lifestyle?

Jess Pryles: I feel like for a lot of people, the situation is that if you don't come from an agricultural background, which, again, highly urban city, and you know, in Australia, not connected with ag whatsoever, except for going to like Alberta at the State Fair, which is the Royal Melbourne show where you go and see the baby lambs and the baby, whatever is once a year. And that's your exposure. And that's it. So, even when it came to buying meat, like, you know, my mom just did all the grocery shopping, I didn't really understand what I was buying. So when I like moved out on my own and went to the grocery store, I realized that I didn't know what the cuts where I mean, she really didn't either. If you don't have someone teach you to begin with, you just kind of buy within your safety zone and hope for the best. And it can be really an empowering or disempowering, because you can walk up to the vegetable section. And know, Oh, that's a tomato. This is what I do with it. But it can be so intimidating to walk up to a meat case, be like, I don't, I don't, I don't know. And then maybe you buy something that's called a steak sometime, and you cook it, it's like that was tough. I don't understand it said steak, what's going on? So, in in eating, or when I came to Texas and started, you know, being obsessed with barbecue and wanted to eat more of it and learn more about it, I tried to buy a brisket back in Australia. And it was completely different to what we would have here in the US for a number of reasons that I now know, at the time didn't understand why. Well I'm asking for the same thing. How could it be different but there are things that influence it like Australia is based on British butcher cuts. America has its own type of cuts. There's there's multiple ways to cut it up. If you all you know anyone out there is a hunter, you'll know there's a million ways to skin a deer you know, process deer. It's the same sort of concept. There's lots of different ways to treat the same thing. And it can be really confusing because the names don't always align. The cattle are also bigger here in the US They feed them different than let them get older here, which increase the caucus size. So I found myself falling down this rabbit hole where I had tried to just sit out to learn more about barbecue. But you can't really learn more about barbecue without understanding the raw meat itself to get the right cuts. Because if you've ever bought just a brisket flat, let's say, which is the really thin little part that sometimes called the Lean butcher shops, you can't really cook that successfully without it turning into leather. So you know, you need the right cuts, you need to get the right, the right meats to start with. And so I inadvertently ended up on this big journey to understand more about meat itself. And I felt like I was unlocking all of these grades and levels of information about it like, Okay, so that's the same as that. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. And then I just kept going, you know, I was visiting slaughterhouses in Australia, trying to get more into the industry, you know, people were very welcoming, like, let me show you, our world ag people, and people who are in meet up very, very transparent, in terms of wanting to show you what they do, because they're so proud of it. And so I just was trying to consume as much information as I was getting at the same time, I was sharing the stuff that I was learning through my social media through my website. And you know, it was resonating with other people as well, because so many of us have that same journey where we're not real sure, I don't know, I just buy a fillet because that's what I think I should buy, but you don't understand why or how or what your other options are. So when you can share information that takes away some of the mystique. And some of the confusion. I think that people really appreciate that. And that's where I got my real start. So that the half information sharing, half recipe sharing, and then, you know, you keep going down like any obsession or hobby. Well, I know we'll talk about Hardcore Carnivore™, but somewhere along the line as well, I attended a barbecue camp at Texas A&M, which is I now speak at brisket camp every year in Texas A&M, have an entire Meat Science Department. And I learned about meat science for the first time and was so fascinated that there was this definitive answer or information on why things were tender, why things would you see what can influence that before we even get it in our kitchen. So much so that I ended up completing my own graduate certificate. Many, many, many, many years after I originally went to college for a completely different thing at Iowa State University.

Taylor McAdams: And that is so inspiring. I think it's safe to say and call you an Aussie Aggie since you did get to go to A&M and talk about that. But one thing I learned there's a lot of growth. And I've been able to hear that following your story over time, too, is there's, you know, you started here as a passion and became now it's your lifestyle. I thought it was so funny. You mentioned you said the word y'all. And that's growth too. I mean, you're you're submerged your full text in your Texan and Aussie, and I'm here for it. I love it. Very, very cute.

Jess Pryles: I do a good job. You know, I got a closet full of boots. I drive a truck. I'm married to Texan I got a pretty decent collection of of hunting rifles now. You know, I heard, Oh, if you guys are watching, not just listening, you can see skull behind me 100 All those processed all those eight, all those. So feel like that's pretty Texan, right?

Taylor McAdams: Oh, very Texan. And my husband's an avid hunter too. And he and his family believe that. Like they don't just hunt to hunt and have the trophies they hunt to eat the meat and live off of the land too. So that is so cool. I'm so inspired with you being just a female and doing that. And in being like that owning owning it taking that on as your role. That's so so cool. But another thing that I'm intrigued about you is Hardcore Carnivore™, and we can't help but not talk about it. I know you sent some goodies to our Justin team and Emily and Taylor upstairs kind of helped pass out everything. And I was fortunate enough to get the Tex-Mex blend of Hardcore Carnivore™ seasonings. And let me tell you, they’ve changed everything. And I'm not just saying that like street tacos are so much better now. Just a simple taco with ground beef. You know, you just boring ground beef that's cheap and easy. It's spiced everything up so good. So I guess let's talk about Hardcore Carnivore™ now and kind of what it was like for you to build your own brand and what it took and all of that in the beginning stages.

Jess Pryles: I appreciate that. I always obviously always love to hear feedback because I do blend all of the flavors myself. It's what I think it should taste like. So I mean, I'm not sitting here in my kitchen blending the ones that you guys are trying at home, but the very first recipe is always made in my kitchen. So at some stage in this journey, as I mentioned, I was sharing recipes, I was sharing information, and people kept saying, you know, oh, you're going to open a restaurant I just thought that's a whole different headache. You know, like God bless people in the in the restaurant business because that is a tough pill to swallow. And so I thought, well, how can I get people to taste what I think food should taste like beyond the rest See, and I had an idea for our very first seasoning, which is our most famous one, which is our hypo cannibal black seasoning and seen activated charcoal used a lot in shakes. And like health shakes and smoothies and things like that. And I thought, well, wouldn't it be cool to apply it to meat and kind of see if you can get that color before you've even cooked it? Because my journey of becoming a meat cook was also the frustrations of like, Aha, why can I get a good sear, like a steakhouse? And that's one of the biggest things people starting out. So if you can get it to look great before you've even started, you're ahead of the game. So we came out with how to go carnival black. And honestly, it was a very genuine organic thing where I was like, I'll order the minimum. And if it doesn't sell out, I guess I can give them away as Christmas presents, you know, it was the most humble beginning to accompany. And now, six, seven years later, we have nine seasonings in the line, we've expanded to things like butcher paper, high heat, gloves, trimming knives, and everything that I add to the line things that I use in my kitchen, like ooh, this is the style of knife I like, I want to put our Hardcore Carnivore™ name on it, I want to develop it. So we have this whole range, including a burn INSOURCE. Now to that sold all over the world. It's available like widely here in the US. It's a Bass Pro, Cabela's, Academy, Bucees, HEB, amazing, small, independent stores across the country as well. And obviously our website, and they're all products, like every single flavor in our seasonings and our source of products that I still go into the kitchen, like a big mad scientist with spices, and go alright, I know I want something for wild game. What does that look like? What does that taste like? And sort of a little drop of this little drop of that and Testing, testing, testing. So all I can say is, you know, I'm really I'm, I'm so grateful for people trying it. But I'm even more grateful that people like it, because I guess it means that we have the same flavor profile or preferences.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yes. And I'm kind of getting teary-eyed and choked up listening to you talk about this. Because there's a lot of girls out there that are so inspired. I know that if there's any young girls listening, they're just probably holding on to every word I know I am because it's really cool to talk to hear brands that are so big talk about their humble beginnings and what it was like in the beginning and getting there, and so I've just I'm very curious, I'm gonna ask them to how does it how do you get the the perfect seasoning, you know, you you kind of talked through like the game and the different tastes. But how do you say enough is enough, I'm done adding garlic, I'm done adding paprika, I'm done adding all this stuff. And you know, it's like perfect.

Jess Pryles: I think it's personal preference, honestly. But the ethos for me has always been like, the more traditional seasonings that you would have found in the grocery store. And there's obviously like, it's exploded in the last couple of years, there's so much more than ever before. But they were very in your face flavors nearly like they were like, well, if I'm gonna put seasoning in a bottle, I'm gonna put seasoning in the bottle, right. And I, you know, the thing that's best about the steak is it tastes like steak. So I knew that I wanted to make something that always worked with the meats themselves. So they're fairly simple. Like, we use premium quality ingredients, because like there's a difference even in Pepper qualities. You know, it's kind of nearly the difference between I don't know, I don't know why this is the first thing that popped into my head but like, or to PiFan and or to to let you know, like if you're into perfumes like one of them's watered down and it's still smell the same, but they're not as powerful and they don't last as long. So spices are the same, some of them are going to have a more intensity of flavor, they're going to be fresher. So that helps. And then it's just about it's just what I think that simplicity and that balance should be where the meat can still play a big role in it. So even with the Tex Mex, when you make tacos, the idea is that you're still enjoying the ground beef, and it is obviously bringing a lot of flavor to it. But it's mixed with this sort of magical concoction that's just like, Okay, I get it. This is delicious. Like that's my egg. That's what I'm going for.

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, that's very well said I and that's what's so crazy is like now that I've heard that story, I can definitely feel and taste that what you know, with the board, like I said boring ground beef just it's like, wow, no, somebody did think through how the person was going to feel and what what their mouth was going to experience for lack of better words. So that's so inspiring. And I know you've already told us all the stories that we can get your seasonings and products at but maybe talk through like what it was like big having your first store or what it's like now having all these big name stores, you know, because that's part of your humble beginnings too.

Jess Pryles: Yeah, and I think It, you know, it's really interesting. And the one thing that I'll say to anyone who's listening who wants sort of more entrepreneurial advice is, I don't love taking no for an answer. And I'm very driven. And I think that that has a lot to do with it. So I sort of put blinders on and forged ahead. You know, I sort of said, I didn't intend to create a product. But once Black was so successful, I thought, well, I guess I should create one for chicken now that I have one. For girl, I have one for beef. And that's how it's been kept growing and, and keep growing. And the idea still is that at the end of the day, I forged ahead, I pushed ahead, I knew what I want my labels to look like, like I knew how I wanted to stand out on the shelf, I knew what I wanted the name to be, I knew what I wanted our position to be, you know, I, I call our stuff, products for serious meat enthusiast. Because, you know, if you love hate, you're gonna love everything in our lives. It's just because that's, that's me, that's where it came from. I think when there's authenticity to something, you're always going to forge ahead as well. And buches was one of the first stores that we went into, that was like the big coup, and they were growing at the time. I mean, they're on a, they're on an insane path of growth at the moment, we're lucky to have gotten in way at the beginning. But we have had a very special, we've had a very special sort of ride where it, we haven't had the traditional thing. So we've had a lot of retailers come to us, because we built the brand and believed in the brand. So it's kind of more that if you if you build it, they will come. So I focused on the branding, I focused on the social media, I focused on the product itself, making a good product, getting it out there and knew if I could build something and build the demand for it, well, then people will want to stock it right. And I think the hardest thing when you're building a brand, and especially in grocery, which I would just caution people about is, if it feels like it's going to end up being an exercise where you might even lose money, but you'll get in store don't do it. I think that there's a lot of opportunity. You know, you hear about, for example, a lot of businesses going out of business when dealing with Costco, for example, for a great retailer, but because they want different packaging and different. You know, they'll get into the small companies that are making these cool funky products and say okay, but the deal with Costco is you need it in a different size that you don't make it, you've got to ship it by the pallet, and you have to do this and you have to do that and everyone gets so excited and does it and it's kind of a demise. So the i We've always been role cautious to grow at a manageable right as much as we can. And not try and just explode because you know, when the horses bolt is real hard to get them back in. So trust your gut is probably what I'm trying to say in a very roundabout way.

Taylor McAdams: That is phenomenal advice. I think for anything, not necessarily even just entrepreneurial, but for life in general. If you just trust your gut, go with your instinct, less is more, you know, the very good thing that if you build it, they will come I love that. And one thing that I always ask farmers and ranchers when they're on this podcast is the one controversial question in Texas. How do you like your steak cooked? So I'm going to ask you that too. How do you like your steak cooked?

Jess Pryles: Well, my answer is always it depends on the cut. 

Taylor McAdams: Ooh, you know why? You're the first one that's answered the answer to it that way.

Jess Pryles: I feel like it. I feel like it absolutely depends on I feel like that answer is always going to tell you how serious someone is validating me. Generally, for someone like a ribeye, I'm a medium rare, but something like tried tip Bovet you're gonna, you're gonna want that a little bit towards the medium side. It just performs better like that top sirloins kind of the same thing for Kanye to the medium side of medium rare. So it depends, is it I've never well done to never, no, never hockey pucks.

Taylor McAdams: I agree to that. And I've got to ask you before we go this is you weren't expecting this question. But is it hard for you to go out and eat meat now? Because you know you've mastered it. So is it hard to sit there and eat something that's just like, okay, I can make it better at home.

Jess Pryles: I still like going out to eat because I like seeing what other chefs do especially with the flavor profiles, but it is hard and my husband in particular is extremely spoiled now and there are those times where we'll be so picky about like we might go to a steak house and order fish and pasta because you know, we just want that experience of going out but we know that it's like ah don't worry, I've got a wagyu you know, ribeye in the in the fridge wait to get home I don't need this. So it definitely has burst that bubble a little bit. Well, I I love that so much and I love that You guys are like, You know what we're gonna do something that's like pasta and fish and safety up there. So that's really cool. And now that all of us out there are hungry, including ourselves. I think this is a good time to give yourself a plug and wrap it up before we go. So tell us where can we find you on social media, your website, this is your chance for everyone out there to go out and ask questions and follow along with your journey. I know I've been following you for a long now and the content out there is so interesting, and I just love your insight and your outlook on everything.

Jess Pryles: Appreciate that. Well, I guess there's two different ways you can find me one is through my personal stuff, which is just trials just trials.com is my website I'm on all social media like all of them as just trials is the handle so come find me Come say hey, and then Hardcore Carnivore™ has its own channels too. So how to go carnivore.com That's more sort of recipes. stuff related exactly to the seasoning but all the meat science meat myth-busting stuff, it's gonna be on the just browse channels.

Taylor McAdams: Well, I love it. Just thank you again for taking the time to be on the Kick Your Boots Up podcast, and we look forward to seeing all the fun stuff you do in the meat world. And we cannot wait to see what else you you meat myth buster about in the future.

Jess Pryles: Thank you appreciate y'all.

Taylor McAdams: Thanks for joining us on Kick Your Boots Up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.