Susie Bulloch initially got into blogging as a first-time mom trying to save money on things like groceries and Christmas gifts — she was hired by a blog that posted about deals and coupons to write coupon match-ups. A couple years later, through a friend of a friend starting a new blog, she signed on to create recipes.
The second blog was created for Traeger grills, and the recipes Bulloch was going to be developing were for wood-fired barbecue, something she had no experience with at the time.
“But I knew a lot about food,” Bulloch said. She grew up in a restaurant family and food was a big part of her family’s life. Creating recipes and blogging from home sounded like the ideal job to her. “So they dropped a barbecue off on my porch and said, ‘Great, we just need like five recipes a week starting Monday.’”
It was trial by literal fire, she said, because all of a sudden, she was thrust into the world of barbecue.
“This was the first time I was really introduced to American barbecue wood fired cooking,” Bulloch said. “And I loved it. Everything we so delicious. We could not believe how delicious this food was that we were making.”
Besides falling in love with the food, Bulloch said she fell in love with the barbecue community she found online, where she would ask questions in Facebook groups about barbecue and people would send her recommendations for resources to check out.
“I realized that I could write recipes that people liked, that they could cook at home,” she said.
Bulloch wrote recipes for Traeger Grills for several years, but felt like she was missing something by not being able to share personal anecdotes, or let people know who she was. Being self-taught, even with the help of the online barbecue committee, Bulloch said she felt there weren’t a lot of resources for people who looked like her — a woman and a mom.
“Everything that was online for barbecue was what you would expect, like the true barbecue guy with overalls and a beard,” Bulloch said. “There just weren’t a lot of people my age or people that I knew that were moms.”
Bulloch wanted to share her love for barbecue with other moms and families, especially because she said her family enjoyed it so much, with barbecue helping to facilitate family dinners. She quit writing for Traeger Grills and started her own website to fill the gap she saw in the barbecue world, four and a half years ago. Of course, the most successful blogs arguably have the catchiest names, and Bulloch’s “Hey Grill, Hey” is no exception.
Bulloch’s husband Todd said the name came about while they were on vacation, and Susie Bulloch told him she was going to start her own website. They naturally gravitated towards using a pun — with “Susie” as her first name, there was lots of material to pull from, but they also thought about names like “the grill next door.”
It was while they were at the grocery store that they stumbled upon “Hey Grill, Hey.” Todd Bulloch said they had split up to find an item, which he found in his chosen aisle, and he yelled out “Hey grill, hey” to get Susie Bulloch’s attention. When she came running around the corner, they thought, “That’s it.”
“I don’t think we knew how great of a fit it would be,” Susie Bulloch said. “But it really does kind of deliver on that message of, ‘this is fun.’ And we say that all the time. Barbecue is fun ... it doesn’t have to be heavy, it doesn’t have to be intimidating ... it’s meant to be a good time when we’re outside enjoying each other’s company. So it totally works.”
Since that first grill was dropped on her porch, Bulloch said she’s owned roughly 30 grills, many of which have been given away to family as she’s upgraded. Currently the Bullochs have around 10 grills. After starting her blog less than five years ago, Susie Bulloch has become a recognizable face in the barbecue world. Her blog became so successful that Todd Bulloch was able to quit his job as a CPA in December 2017 and begin working full time on the blog with her, taste-testing and managing their product division — Hey Grill, Hey launched a product line with sauces and spice rubs earlier this year.
“So I get to stay over here and create all the recipes that go in the bottles, I get to create the rubs and the sauces and the seasonings, and he has to deal with all the fun stuff like logistics of shipping and fulfillment, and all the stuff that goes with running an actual physical product business,” Susie Bulloch said. “And I kind of get to stay over in happy creative land.”
Their three kids get involved as well. Besides providing their mom with feedback, Susie Bulloch said her oldest daughter, a 10-year-old, is interested in anything kitchen related and gives her input on plating before Susie Bulloch takes pictures to share to social media.
“Our kids actually have to rotate who helps with cooking dinner each night. So they’ve all helped and participated in all of the blog stuff,” Susie Bulloch said. “I don’t think they can remember a time that I wasn’t cooking barbecue and that wasn’t a part of their lives.”
One of the remarkable parts of Susie Bulloch’s barbecue journey is that it’s actually brought her to the Food Network a few times, after she signed up and was selected to participate in a world-record breaking grill-a-thon. She’s been a guest judge on two shows, “Ultimate Summer Cook-Off” and “BBQ Beatdown,” and just recently competed herself in a third show, “BBQ Brawl.” Susie Bulloch was one of two women in the finale for “BBQ Brawl,” which she called a “landmark moment” for the barbecue space.
“It’s kind of nice to be able to get both sides, eat all of the delicious food on a couple of shows, and make all the delicious food on the other shows,” she said. “The blog has really helped me be seen in the barbecue world as somebody that can cook and somebody that can judge and be an authority in the space, which is pretty amazing that I just ... built a business around the internet and was really able to share this love of barbecue with other people and get my name out there.”
Although Susie Bulloch and her husband were pretty tight-lipped about anything that might be in the works Food Network wise, they hinted there’s some big things yet to come, and said to just watch the Hey Grill, Hey social media channels. Regardless of anything that happens with Food Network, however, Susie Bulloch said she’s just happy to have a platform that empowers people, both men and women, to grill.
“We’ve realized how powerful that dinner experience is, how powerful to sit down with people that you love and you care about and share a meal together with them. And nothing brings people together better than barbecue,” she said. “Really what drives this now is when we think about putting out a new recipe or when we think about putting out a new product, we ask ourselves, is this going to help our audience? Is this going to help that one personal feel more confident to cook that thing for their family? Is it going to help bring people around the dinner table? Is it going to help facilitate that feeling of accomplishment and community? That’s what it’s all about for us now.”