There’s something remarkably enticing about the smell of a fresh-cooked meal mixed with the sound of rushing water or wind blowing through the trees. Most of us have whipped up a tasty camp dinner or two in our day, and readily acknowledge the enjoyment that comes from cooking outdoors.
But Matt Crawford isn’t your average camp chef. And he’s not your typical grill master either.
Working under the name Sasquatch BBQ, Crawford has built a community of BBQ-lovers that are as drawn to his drool-worthy shots of expertly seasoned meats as they are his larger-than-life personality and upbeat can-do attitude. The small-town Washington state native has worked hard to carve a space for himself in the BBQ world, fueled by a love of grilling and a little bit (okay, maybe a lot) of bacon grease—and he strongly encourages others to do the same. If Tony Robbins had a meat-grilling counterpart, Crawford just might be it.
When the barbecue connoisseur decided to take his passion for grilling off grid, he needed a way to power his wood pellet grill without plugging into a wall outlet. And that’s where the Goal Zero x Sasquatch BBQ story began. Currently, Matt uses a Goal Zero Yeti 1400 to run his Traeger grill everywhere from the middle of the woods to outside the local brewery, serving up savory eats to beer drinkers in his hometown.
Recently, we hitched a ride in Matt’s 1978 Chevy K5 Blazer and talked with him about how he got started, why he loves to grill off grid, and what’s up next for Sasquatch BBQ—all before sitting down to enjoy a mouth-watering, riverside meal of course.
When did you first start grilling?
I started cooking over fire on a wood stove at hunting camp when I was seven years old, and I've been tinkering and messing around with cooking ever since. When I was a kid, I always knew I could cook my eggs differently or do something extra with my Top Ramen, adding different meats or whatnot. My mom was always like, "Why do you have to alter everything??" My dad burnt everything he made, so I would go to my friend's house and just ask to use their grill and then I got better and better at it. To this day, even in a restaurant I always try to add flavors to everything. My wife yells at me, she's like, "Oh my gosh. Just order what's on the menu!”
Why grilling versus other styles of cooking?
Well, this one is straight up easy. Outdoor cooking versus making a mess inside, that’s a no brainer for me. Outdoor cooking is amazing. You just set up a table and your grill, you're outside in the elements, people are reasonably happier most of the time when they are outside. Unless of course it's in Texas and it's too hot and humid...you know what I'm saying? I would much rather be outside cooking anywhere than inside or doing stove top cooking or baking.
How did you go from grilling outdoors to grilling off grid?
I started thinking about all the places that I would go with my dad when I was a kid, places where we would hunt and fish. And one day I began going back to those spots randomly with a piece of meat; it was more that I started taking photos of the food in beautiful locations. Then I realized, "Okay, well why am I not actually cooking the meat in these beautiful locations?" And that's what sparked the whole thing.
As soon as I figured out that I could take my Traeger grill out in the woods and power it off grid with a battery, it was pretty much a game changer. I was completely hooked. I began looking for other cool spots and, let's be real, I'm very much off grid and I usually have no cell service where I go, but I'm not ten miles deep into the backcountry. Sometimes I can still see my car; it's 60 yards out there, up a pretty steep trail, down to some beautiful location, but there's no cell service, there are no other people.
Where is your favorite spot to grill?
My favorite spot is clear up at the top of the Kalama River. It's a little secret spot and when you’re driving up there you hit a point where the road signs say, "Primitive road, no warning signs.” It was a place that my dad used to jump down to when we'd come back from hunting and he would fish down there.
So this is a place I continue to go, and it's magical. There’s a giant rocky beach, and it's amphitheater-style because the forest comes over in a canopy. There’s a big rock in the middle of it [ the river ], a lava bed with a big basalt tower in front of it, and a huge swimming hole and never anybody around. I don't feel better anywhere else in the world. It's absolute heaven to me.
If you could grill anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I loved grilling in Maui recently, but now my wife is looking at Turks and Caicos and I think that will probably be my new bucket list grilling place.
I have this wild vision. I want to go set up a Traeger grill somewhere on the beach and get it all started up, start grilling burgers or something, and then do a helicopter tour while the food is grilling. And then I come back, land at the beach, get out of the chopper Arnold Schwarzenegger style, run toward the food, flip it, jump back in the helicopter and then bank out of there. My food's flipped and grilling and when we come back it’s all done. Then I eat on the beach and take off as the sun sets in the helicopter with my wife. How’s that for a bucket list grilling idea!
If you could grill and prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be?
That’s a two part answer. I’d cook a meal for my grandpa and my dad who have passed away. My grandpa actually had a Traeger on the deck in 1997, so I want to show him what I can do with one today. And my dad used to burn every single thing he cooked, so I'd love him to sit down and eat a really good meal from me. And as for someone alive, it would be Tom Cruise, but he'd have to be Top Gun Maverick Tom Cruise. He’d have to be in the flight suit and everything.
When you're not grilling up tasty meats, what can you be found doing?
If I'm not grilling up tasty meats, all I want to do is hang out with my grandkids. Our granddaughter Chloe absolutely melts my face off. In any spare moment that I get, even if I can't barely move because I pulled back to back 15 hour days grilling at the brewery, I just want to drive the hour to go and hang out with her. She thinks I'm the coolest person in the world and I don't know, it goes full circle, hakuna matata status, and it's like pride rock and you're hugging your grandchild and they're just like, "Papa, papa, papa." And I'm like, "Here's my wallet, do you need my keys? You're only two kid, but you got it. Whatever you want, you got it."
What’s keeping you busy right now and what’s up next for Sasquatch BBQ?
Well, I'm the busiest I think I've ever been in my whole life. I have multiple DMs, PMs, emails going, my phone is texting me numbers that I don't even know on a daily basis. [ Laughs ] In all seriousness though, in terms of who I work with, I try to partner with companies that have good mantras and values. So I do a lot of research on brands. Oh, and I just met with an NFL Super Bowl champ the other day. Got him a grill and hung out. So, things like that are keeping me busy, and then I have the brewery on top of that. But I think in general what's really keeping me busy these days is the continuous drive to become better at what I do, become better at who I am.
What's up next? I'm going to branch off and start doing a lot more of what I call “destination dinners.” I want to start holding classes in my favorite spot, maybe three times a year, for like 10 people each time. We go up in the woods. We do an epic food thing. I teach them how to use my grills, how to power them with the Goal Zero Yeti power stations. But more than just an off-grid grilling tutorial, it's a life session. I share a lot of who I am, and what that place means to me, and encourage people to do that too, in their own lives.
Sasquatch’s Reverse Seared Ribeye Camp Steak
There's nothing better than a nice steak at camp. A Goal Zero Yeti coupled with a portable Traeger grill, and a simple fire with a cast iron pan will have you feeling like an off-grid grilling legend in no time. Whether it's one steak or many, use this recipe/guide as a template and have fun with your meals along the way. I also love to wrap a couple of Russets in foil, salt, pepper, butter and a little bit of olive oil and then bury them under a small coal section of your campfire. Now, on to the meat!
- One to how ever many steaks you would like. I use boneless grass fed ribeyes, your choice though.
- Coffee rub mixed with your favorite beef rub 50/50 blend. I use Traeger rubs.
- Butter for your cast iron
- A couple sprigs of rosemary
- Sea salt
Get your Traeger grill, or whatever grill you are using, hooked up to your Goal Zero power supply and bring up to a temperature of 225 degrees F.
While grill is pre-heating, salt your steak liberally and set aside for 20 minutes.
Apply your 50/50 blend of rubs, press the rub into the meat, and place on grill.
Let your steak cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Probe steak with a meat thermometer and take off of grill when an internal temperature of 120 degrees F. is reached.
Your camp fire should be going and now it is time to place your cast iron pan with butter and rosemary either straight onto the coals (Caveman style) or on a grate of some sort. Let it heat up for a couple of minutes.
Carefully transfer your steak into the cast iron to perform the reverse sear. Flip after 45 seconds to one minute and repeat on the opposite side.
Let rest a minimum of 5-10 minutes and then slice it up my friends.
PS. Don’t forget your potatoes!