How The Grill Dads First Teamed Up - Exclusive

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The Grill Dads — Mark Anderson and Ryan Fey — aren't sure when they first met, but they know it was back in their college days when Anderson was at Ohio State and Fey at Ohio University. At the time, the two had mutual friends, who they believe may have introduced them. Fey moved to New York City after graduation and got into advertising. Anderson had pivoted into the music business. 

"I lied to some people," Anderson recalled in an exclusive interview with Mashed. "And told them I lived in New York City so I could get a job." To help his old college buddy out, Fey offered his couch, and Anderson got to stay rent-free on the caveat that he had to cook their dinners, and soon cooking became integral to their friendship. 

Fey had grown up in Ohio, where he claimed the two main food groups were meatloaf and casserole. "Sometimes they combine those things, which is mind-blowing," he told Mashed. "Meatloaf casserole is the worst thing." He joked that he taught himself to cook "because I didn't want to die," but it also became a source of income. Fey learned how to cook fantastic meals in his dorm room and charged fellow undergraduates for dinners. "It was a side hustle for a minute for me in college," he shared. After graduation, Anderson got married but eventually divorced, and he escaped to Atlanta. Fey was also married and living in Los Angeles and again invited Anderson to stay in his guest house, which is where the seed for The Grill Dads was initially planted.

Their grilling parties became a hot ticket

Fey's LA house was about 1100-square-feet, but his backyard was huge. He and Anderson began inviting large groups of friends over for grilling parties, which became a hotspot in LA. Word got out to several restaurants, and Anderson and Fey were asked to do guest executive takeovers. Both were in advertising at this point, and they combined their savvy business skills in selling two or three seatings for the restaurants. With the success of these events, Anderson and Fey realized they should do something with this burgeoning side business. They first considered opening their own restaurant, but they were dissuaded by Anderson's father in taking on such a risky endeavor. "The lucky ones fail quick," Anderson recounted his dad telling them.

Since their day jobs were creating content and intellectual property for their advertising clients, Anderson and Fey shifted to using their marketing know-how for themselves. "We decided to do The Grill Dads to scratch our creative itch for creating content, but also cooking." The Grill Dads see their partnership as a comedy team, and their winning formula is staying true to who they are. But they also want to dispel the stereotype of the grass-mowing, New Balance-wearing, braided-belt dads that you often see in the media. 

"We have no problems with that," Fey told Mashed, "but it's not us." Always with a joke or two on hand, The Grill Dads' mission is to teach the different methods of grilling and to show what's possible with fire and smoke on the grill. As The Grill Dads succinctly put it: "A grill is a tool, barbecue is a cuisine."

"The Best Grilling Cookbook Ever Written By Two Idiots" will be released June 7, 2022 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Follow The Grill Dads on Instagram and Facebook.