“Men tend to measure everything. Size does matter,” Ross Den, 38, tells The Post.
No, not that. He’s talking about barbecuing.
For years, Den, who works in security consulting, had been holed up in a tiny, Midwood apartment, lusting after spacious, grilling-friendly pastures.
“It’s an impressive thing when you host a house party and you have a slow-cooked venison dish,” says Den, whose envy was fueled by scrolling through photos of his friends’ big backyards and fancy grills.
He knew his grilling dreams were impossible in a small apartment with no outdoor space, where even his humble grill pan set off the smoke alarm. So he decided to change his ZIP code.
“I set the goal to find a place with outdoor space to grill,” says Den. Last summer, he moved to a Brighton Beach apartment with a 500-square-foot roof deck.
‘I have friends in the city and they all get jealous.’
Summer grilling has long been emblematic of a certain macho, middle-class ideal for men. But social media’s turned guys’ fleeting envy into a full-blown obsession. In the same way that women pine over fashion influencers’ outfits or fitfluencers’ butts, city dudes are now drooling over grillfluencers and the lifestyle they represent. On Instagram, the hashtag #bbqporn has been used more than 367,800 times, while @thegrilldads, a pair of pitmasters who hosted the Food Network show “Comfort Food Tour,” have more than 24,100 superfan followers.
“Grill envy is a real thing,” says Mark Anderson, one half of @thegrilldads who lives in Boise, Idaho. “The grilling culture on Instagram is so over the top and crazy and huge right now” that even grate veterans like himself are “blown away” by “these crazy cuts of meat,” often prepped on $20,000 Kalamazoo grills. “It totally creates FOMO for people.”
Sean Ludwig, founder of grilling Web site NYCBBQ.com, agrees that Instagram has become a real meat market as of late.
“You’re seeing all these influencers,” he says. “People are living vicariously through them.”
That’s how Five Towns, LI, resident Gabriel Boxer, 38, feels about his Instagram grilling idol: Daniel Vaughn, a k a @BBQsnob.
“He’s a BBQ genius,” says Boxer. The father of four not only has a smoker, but a propane-fueled, six-burner Weber Summit grill — both the envy of his George Foreman-wielding Manhattan friends. (“They all get jealous,” he says, with glee.)
But that doesn’t stop Boxer from coveting his pals’ Big Green Eggs — the Cadillacs of the BBQ world. With his entry-level Home Depot smoker, he’s yet to emulate Vaughn’s “perfect smoke ring”: a strip of pink that runs just beneath the surface of a piece of smoked meat, such as brisket. His friends, says Boxer, “rub it in my face all the time.”
Likewise, Ryan Greiss, 29, feels searing jealousy for the grill-dad likes of Boxer and Vaughn.
“I definitely have grilling envy,” says Greiss, an Upper East Side-based grilling enthusiast who’s confined to his tiny apartment and 10-inch electric grill he got as a gift for Hanukkah last year. “It’s just not the same,” he says sadly.
He fantasizes about owning a six-burner Weber one day. “The plan is definitely to move to the suburbs and grill,” he says — adding, after a beat, “and probably raise kids.”
That wholesome Instagram vision — lawns, a tricked-out grill, kids running around — is what Luke Thompson suspects is at the heart of younger men’s grilling hysteria.
“A lot of upper-middle-class millennials were told to find meaning in work . . . in highly concentrated, uber-expensive coastal cities,” says Thompson, a 35-year-old consultant who grew up in Kansas and has been forced to use an electric grill since moving to Manhattan. “Between that and student debt, we haven’t had family formation opportunities. We don’t own homes, we don’t have yards; we work crazy hours, so we don’t cook.”
Thompson theorizes that Instagram’s grill porn encapsulates an American dream that feels out of reach for many millennial New Yorkers.
Grill dads “have stable lives,” he says. “They have time to grill. They make unfussy but delicious food for their families. What’s not to be envied?”
White Plains, NY-based dad Aaron Herman — an avid griller — agrees.
“I think when you say you’re grilling, it’s like, you’ve made it, you’re a grillmaster,” says the 40-year-old entrepreneur. “There’s respect. It’s like high school, college, marriage, now you have your grill. It’s the evolution of life.”
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