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The Power of the Grill

Inspired by tradition, fueled by technology: Three foodies share their burning love of the grill, what they discovered is possible with a little fire, and how to use the new smart grill to try it yourself.

A photo illustration Weber Genesis Smart Grill surrounded by different grilling ingredients, like burgers and shrimp, and grilling tools. Photo illustrations by Brittany Falussy
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Grilling has always been about more than just the food sizzling over the fire. It’s something that brings family, friends, and loved ones together around the world. Weber Grills, a company that’s been fueling at-home grilling in America since 1952, makes prioritizing both the quality of your food and the time with the people around you easy with their Genesis Smart Grill.

By utilizing features like step-by-step grilling assistance and food readiness countdown and doneness alerts, you can confidently step away from the grill to connect with the people around you, try more adventurous culinary feats, and lean into the social nature of the pastime. No one wants to serve poorly cooked meals, so sticking with your go-to menu can be an easy choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s one you have to make. The new smart grill, powered by Weber Connect Technology, can help you confidently step out of your culinary comfort zone and give new recipes a try (all without being stressed or glued to the grill).

Below, writer Dakota Kim, James Beard award-winning chef Digby Stridiron, and cookbook author Mariana Velasquez walk us through their relationships with grilling, discuss the discoveries they’ve made in the smoke, and share recipes that can be grilled on the new Weber smart grill.

A photo illustration of a burger with kimchi and spicy aioli depicts Dakota Kim’s Kimchi Juicy Lucy recipe. Photo illustrations by Brittany Falussy

Kimchi with a Side of American Cheese

by Dakota Kim, food writer

Growing up in central Illinois, the smell of meat on my family’s grill was what mattered when it was mealtime — not whether it was American or Korean. My brother and I happily tore into SPAM, hot dogs and burgers filled with melted American cheese, kalbi marinated in soy, and burgers topped with a heap of kimchi. There were chopsticks and forks, and tanned hands covered in ketchup, mustard, and dribbled soy-chili marinade. Afterward, we’d wash our hands in the sprinkler that served as our water park.

In our grassy green backyard in Champaign, kalbi and Juicy Lucys sizzled side-by-side. The Juicy Lucy burger, a Minneapolis tradition with a gooey American-cheese center, migrated to our neighborhood via a Minnesotan neighbor, and quickly became a popular backyard barbecue food amongst my friends.

Being so super American and so super Korean in the Midwestern heartland wasn’t confusing — until it was. Because my mom and dad happily blended Korean and American foods on our table and grill, it never occurred to me that the cuisines were separate until I went to school. I loved yellow American cheese and red Korean kimchi, so why should the two be separated just because they came from different places? At some point, I started to realize that my kimchi burger wasn’t “normal” to everyone. I got upset when a friend told me in my own backyard that adding it to my burger was weird. And once, I asked our neighbor for some for my burger, and received a puzzled look instead. After explaining, the neighbor gave their fix: sauerkraut. Despite the similarity in base ingredients, the taste was not the same. Something was missing — something spicy, sweet, and very Korean.

To Koreans, adding cheese to everything is normal. We’re not afraid to add mozzarella to our buldak (fire chicken), kalbi jjim, or dakgalbi. Adding slices of American cheese to our ramen or rabbokki or budae jjigae (American army stew) enrich the already comforting taste — the spiciness of Korean cuisine is perfectly tempered by the mildness of American cheese.

Now, years later, I’ve created a perfect hybrid of my favorite childhood meal for my two-year-old son: The Kimchi Juicy Lucy. You add drained kimchi to the center of the burger with the American cheese, grill it, and top with buttery grilled kimchi and kimchi aioli (if you’re feeling lazy, just use regular mayo or make a quick kimchi mayo by mixing together kimchi juice and mayo).

It’s such a joy to feed my son this fusion of our Midwestern and Korean pride, see how much he loves kimchi, and know that I’m carrying my Midwestern Korean-American traditions on with my son, even while living far from both in L.A. It’s a given now that kimchi is part of American food culture, and I’m excited that my two-year-old will grow up in a world where kimchi on a burger isn’t so strange.

Genesis EX-335 Smart Gas Grill

Whether it’s perfecting a grilling staple or trying a new recipe you’ve just discovered, Weber’s Genesis EX-335 Smart Gas Grill can help you confidently accomplish any grilling feat (without needing to closely watch the flames) with features like:

- Digital, real-time food temperatures and readiness countdowns on your phone and grill

- Step-by-step grilling assistance

- Alerts when your food reaches its desired doneness

- Create an intense, high heat on the cooking grate to quickly add sear marks with the Sear Zone

Find out more about the Weber Genesis EX-335 Smart Gas Grill and discover an endless world of grilling possibilities.

A photo illustration of a donut on a grill skewer and a shrimp on the other grill skewer depict the story of Chef Digby grilling unexpected things. Photo illustrations by Brittany Falussy

Grilling Donuts, Shrimp, and Everything in Between

by Digby Stridiron, as told to Julia Gomez Kramer

In the Virgin Islands, grilling is a big part of life. Growing up, everywhere I went, we were always cooking outside (I grew up cooking on my dad’s Weber and my grandfather even built a custom grill into our house). Sundays were spent at Altona Lagoon on the north shore of the island [St. Croix]. My sisters, uninterested in fishing, would spend the day swimming with friends while my dad and I threw out the net. Soon enough, our bucket would be filled with small translucent shrimp. Once we decided we had enough, we’d sit on the sand, start a fire, my dad would pull out the seasonings he brought from home, and we’d start grilling.

When it comes to the grill, understanding the wood, how it burns, and the time it takes to get a perfect sear, that’s the sweet spot. When you’re cooking with open fire, you’re not trying to rush the food out. It gives you the time to really think about the thing you’re cooking and the approach you want to take. Many times you might not even stay on track. Once, while at a friend’s home in Haiti, we were cooking with these beautiful tomatoes. While prepping in his kitchen, we decided that our original intention for the ripe tomatoes — to put them in a soup — wouldn’t do them justice. We needed smoke to highlight their flavor. So, naturally, we turned on the grill, added some local salt, and charred the tomatoes until they actually started to burn a little. You could taste the coal, the smoke, the ashiness from the grill in the tender bites of the tomato. That’s the flavor.

I also love doing seemingly impossible things, ones that are very hard to do, on the grill. Once, in Arkansas, we decided to make donuts on the grill. We smoked them out, grilled them, and served them with a spicy chocolate. I’ll never forget the expressions on people’s faces when they saw what we were doing (they were looking around like ‘you can grill donuts?’). And to me, that’s the beauty in grilling, the exciting part — discovering new ways to cook foods you’ve had countless times before.

My entire life, especially my love for food and my cooking, was built around my relationship with open-fire grilling. At the end of the day, my food is love. I always want people to just feel seen, like they’re a part of something, to know that they’re there too and [grilling] creates the space for that. When I’m cooking, when I’m [searing] something [on the grill], it’s not just “Ah, this is Digby’s cooking.” I can’t cook the way I do without people, because I feed off that energy. I can sit outside, start a fire by myself, grill something amazing, and I’ll enjoy it, but it won’t have the same satisfaction as if I were doing it with family or friends. With people, it’s more than just an activity. It’s generosity, love, respect, a place to share and discover new’s being human.

A sliced yellow plantain is held in silver tongs on a pink background as part of an illustrated collage. Photo illustrations by Brittany Falussy

Finding Comfort and Celebration by the Grill

by Mariana Velasquez, author of Colombiana cookbook & food stylist

Growing up in the 1990s, during Colombia’s peak years of a 60-year-long civil war, we all felt the threat of violence one way or another. I was lucky enough to have been born and raised in the capital city of Bogotá. Anyone can tell you that all of us were “trapped” in cities, since the countryside was dangerous and swarmed with guerrillas, paramilitaries and narcos, all using kidnappings as a prominent source of their income or for political leverage. My hometown is a cold city, perched high up on the Andes, and my family had a small weekend place a few hours down the mountains where the climate is balmy and tropical. Authorities would recommend not to travel by land, in order to avoid any of the guerilla’s impromptu checkpoints that would get you kidnapped, so visiting our retreat was a risk.

Ever the contrarian, my mother would put my brother and me in her car and drive down the windy road at night, when it was easier to travel undetected, albeit the road challenges. I still remember praying in the back seat all along the way. Upon arrival, we would find our little oasis centered around food and, since the sun was shining almost every day, grilling was the way to cook.

Our ritual was all about the timing: First, the tiny spicy chorizos, served alongside freshly ground corn arepas, as appetizers. Followed by slowly grilled top sirloin, heirloom corn on the cob, salad, salted potatoes, and spoonfuls of ají. My mom and step-dad would sip cold refajo, a traditional beer and orange soda spritzer, while us kids enjoyed iced orange and lime juice with club soda.

The star of the grill was always one of my favorite recipes and it came in the form of dessert: very ripe plantains, set up on the back of the grill at the very beginning, slowly roasted to the point of becoming almost as creamy as custard. Later, the blackened plantain skins would be served with fresh cheese and guava paste and my mother would always add a dash of lime zest and juice. The ritual of grilling together, in a time where feeling safe was rare, gave me and my family a sense of unity and celebration.

Now, after two decades of living in the US, my husband Diego and I host our friends on our Brooklyn rooftop. Whether it’s these yummy plantains or artisanal sausages, grilled calamari with yuca, or slow-roasted pork, every summer I get to share my traditions with my new American chosen family and discover new ones. All so that we feel safe, united, and celebrate life.

With these recipes in hand, you can get to grilling, with confidence. Learn more about Weber’s smart grill, and smart grilling technology, here.

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