We are beyond excited to welcome Maciek Zurawski of Grillin with Dad to the #CookItCrew! Originally from Poland, Maciek had his first taste of American BBQ at age 10 and was immediately hooked. His passion for BBQ was further ignited when his wife (and now business partner) gifted him a grill for Father’s Day in 2017. Five years later, Maciek still uses that grill to share his love for cooking outdoors with a highly engaged audience of over 1.2 million followers. Inspired by his affinity for bold ingredients, Maciek’s mission is to create easy-to-follow, flavor-forward recipes that the whole family is sure to love.
We sat down with Maciek to learn more about his favorite ingredients, his goals for the future, and his journey to becoming a backyard BBQ icon.
How were you first drawn to cooking? What was the lightbulb moment that inspired you to pursue becoming a food blogger?
Maciek: I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen, you know, even before social media. I’ve always enjoyed trying new recipes, messing around with new foods, and doing stuff on the grill. When I first got on instagram, it really sucked me in even more, because I saw people posting these recipes and pictures, and I’m thinking ooh, I want to try that!
So I started posting on Instagram and it just kind of grew from there. Eventually it got to the point where I had more recipes I wanted to try, more events I wanted to go to, but not enough time with a full-time job, a regular social life, and a family. So we just decided to take the plunge and try [food blogging] full-time.
What did you do before becoming a full time food blogger?
Maciek: My background is in finance. I had jobs in banking and financial institutions. My last job was at Allstate insurance in their finance department. It was completely unrelated to cooking, just kind of your standard office job, nine to five, commuting downtown, which was fine. That’s what I went to college for. I enjoyed doing that, but when I started the Instagram page, cooking started to take over. I started to enjoy that much more. I love the freedom, the flexibility, and the creativity to do what I want to do.
Where do you get your recipe inspiration from?
Maciek: Coming up with recipes is one of the hardest things about this whole thing. I think most of my time is spent trying to think of stuff to make, probably even more than how much time I spend actually making it! I try to make stuff that’s pretty easy, not only for my audience but also for me. I’m not a trained professional, so I try to do things that I’m good at and can make a good video out of. It’s always tricky to keep coming up with ideas that are not always the same thing, like cooking steaks or chicken every day.
My inspiration comes from everywhere. I follow a lot of other creators to see what’s the hot thing right now. When we’re at restaurants or at friends’ houses, I like to see what they’re cooking to see if I can put my own spin on it.
What are your favorite ingredients to cook with?
Maciek: Protein wise, beef is one of my favorites. My kids love that. We’re a big carnivore family. I really like Mexican flavors and South American flavors with all the different chilies and spices. I like doing different stews and braises with those ingredients.
I’m originally from Poland and there’s not a lot of chilies there. We still eat a ton of Polish food, but there’s not a lot of heat. So when we first moved to the US, I was like, oh man, this stuff is so good! It’s so much more exciting than like the standard stuff that I grew up eating! So I always like to cook Mexican inspired dishes.
Being a dad is a big part of your brand, can you tell me why it’s important for you to share this passion for cooking with your kids?
Maciek: My passion for cooking started when I was young. My parents cooked all the time, specifically my mom, so we didn’t really go out to eat. She was always in the kitchen and it was fun to help her out and learn from her. So now I have a chance to do that with my kids. I want them to see that you don’t have to go to a restaurant to get a good meal, you can do it at home and it’s pretty easy.
They’re kinda turning into these, I don’t want to say food snobs, but they’ll say things like “I don’t want to go to a steakhouse because Dad can make a really good steak at home and it’s quicker and easier.” So it’s more than just making the recipe, it’s a whole experience, from cooking to eating, to being together all the time.
What has been the greatest memory from this journey so far?
Maciek: Just being on social media and sharing my passion has kind of drawn in people from all sorts of walks of life. I’ve gotten to meet lots of cool people, including people that I idolized when I was growing up. And then being able to share that with my kids and stuff. It’s been really awesome.
What advice do you have for someone who hasn’t found their passion yet?
Maciek: I would say it’s definitely never too late. I started my Instagram page when I was 35 years old with kids, which is past that typical social media age. So it’s never too late to start and try new things.
If you had to recommend one recipe from your blog, what would it be?
Maciek: That’s a tough one! Probably barbecue ribs. Because one, because they take a couple of hours to cook, so it’s a fun process. And two, I like being able to adjust the recipe exactly to the way that I like my ribs and then sharing them with family and friends.
I have a bunch of different varieties of them on my page, but I would say any sort of barbecue rib recipes are my go-to.
What are your goals for your platform in the future?
Maciek: I want to grow my website more and have a database of all my recipes. I also want to make more YouTube content and create more long form videos, just to show people how to do everything in a little different, more in-depth format than Instagram and TikTok.