With Thanksgiving coming up we all have at least one thing on our mind, food. We've put together a Question and Answers session with Hardcore Carnivore, Jess Pryles. A BBQ Chef based out of Austin, Texas, Jess uses her talents, passion, and determination to make a trade for herself in the cooking world. Creating her own brand, Hardcore Carnivore, there is no denying Jess's skill when it comes to meat. We hope Jess's words inspire you to follow your passions and cook up something delicious for your family and friends this Thanksgiving.
My name is Jess Pryles, and I’m a professional carnivore. I am a meat advocate and live fire cook, teaching classes, speaking at conferences and events. I have my own line of custom built smoker pits made in Houston, a bbq seasoning line (Hardcore Carnivore) and a cookbook of the same name. But, I’m not at all professionally trained - I started out as a frustrated consumer! I didn't have the confidence to even cook a steak at home, but a visit to Texas changed all that. I'm originally from Melbourne, Australia, but now live in Austin, Texas.
I first moved to Texas because of BBQ - no joke! I visited for the first time over 10 years ago and fell in love with the place. But my first taste of a smoked beef rib was a life-altering experience. We’d never had anything like that in Australia, and it was a seriously religious food moment. Over the years, after eating my fair share of ‘que, I became more curious about how barbecue was cooked and sought to learn from the pitmasters of central Texas. And of course, that led to me wanting to try it myself. From there, I started visiting ranches, learning with butchers, completing short courses at meat science universities and just seeking out as much information as I possibly could about all things meat. I’m still learning new things to this day - its been quite the journey! As they say, I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could!
There’s really nothing quite like being your own boss, but you have to be ready to put in the hard work. Even now as I write this, it’s 9 o’clock at night and I’ve been at it all day, but the hustle isn't over! There are two main branches to my business - one is the stuff I do under my own name, such as classes, recipe development, and paid appearances, and then I have a whole second business with Hardcore Carnivore. It’s a line of “product for meat fans” from our seasonings to our merchandise, plus a selection of curated goods for carnivores. We are in stores on 5 continents, so that’s a handful within itself! You have to have incredible self-discipline and drive, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I'm a little unusual, because even as a professional carnivore, with such a meat-laden holiday, I only recently started actually celebrating Thanksgiving. We don’t have it in Australia so it’s been a new adjustment. Ironically, I am always asked to prepare holiday recipes in September and October for clients to use on their websites and social media, so by the time November rolls around I’m all about someone else doing the cooking. Thanksgiving is my day off! Funnily enough, its also the holiday where everyone thinks they’re an expert with an old and cherished family recipe, so there are plenty of other volunteers manning turkey duty.
I LOVE my Buffalo Jackson bags! They are totally my aesthetic in terms of looks - it's very “Texas”. I love how the leather continues to develop patina with use and age, like a great old skillet. I use the messenger satchel as my laptop bag because there’s plenty of room for other bits and pieces too. The Camden tote is my everyday purse and the Elkton bag is perfect for overnighters. I travel so often for classes, and always get compliments on it.
Shop the Camden Collection here
Shop the Elkton Collection here
Keep up with Jess on Instagram