The Spread: Smoke In Her Eyes
How one grill and a few glasses of chardonnay sparked a culinary career for this South Floridian.
Some things in life seem predestined. Born in North Carolina, Robyn Lindars never saw herself making a life much farther below the Mason-Dixon line, let alone in South Florida. But when she was 18, she came across a palm reader while on a vacation to Key West and got a surprising glimpse of her future.
“You’re going south,” the psychic told Lindars.
“And now I’m pretty much as far south as you can go without hitting Cuba,” she says.
If the palm reader had looked a little closer, she might have seen smoke in Lindars’ eyes. Today, Lindars is widely known as the “Grill Girl,” a champion of outdoor barbecue and the creator of the popular website of the same name. But that too came as something of a surprise.
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Although Lindars was born to a Southern family of serious foodies, she didn’t take much to grilling until 2008, when she bought her then-boyfriend a fancy Weber Genesis gas grill. “It was my ‘gateway grill,’” she explains. “It opened up a really big world of grilling.”
Lindars noticed that it was mostly men who got to enjoy the fun. “I asked myself, ‘Why are more women not grilling?’ I’m not even 5-foot-1. I am a total pipsqueak. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
It was the late aughts, and blogging was taking off. Inspired by a couple of glasses of chardonnay one night, the blog Grill Girl was born. While the popular image of grilling conjures up fat slabs of pork ribs, steaks and hamburgers, Lindars, who has appeared as a guest on The Today Show and Chopped, emphasizes its health benefits.
“I think of the grill as its own flavor component,” she says, offering a quick and easy example of its wonders. “Take a heart of romaine: cut it in half, drizzle it in olive oil and throw it on the grill, and it becomes like this different vegetable, almost because the flavor profile changes. You don’t need to add much to it because it’s caramelizing on the grill.”
How about grilled peaches? Lindars puts them on a cedar plank, like you’d do with salmon, “with mascarpone, pistachios, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey, that’s phenomenal.”
Lindars’ keto and paleo diet–friendly recipes abound on her website, along with a slew of so-called “Floribbean” dishes, which reflect the influence of island cultures on South Florida cuisine. And her just-published Healthy Electric Smoker Cookbook savors the rich culinary possibilities wrought by smoke. The Grill Girl wants you to know that smoke’s not only good for giving pork or steak an extra tang; it transforms everything from spices to cocktails to side dishes, like her blue cornbread with smoked poblano and peaches, cooked in a cast-iron pan.
“It really makes for a showstopper presentation,” Lindars says. “Smoke is intoxicating.”