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Courtesy of Belcampo Meat Co. 

Elizabeth Karmel is a North Carolinian who’s been professionally involved with meat and grilling for more than a decade. She’s the former executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue in New York and Washington, D.C., she runs a website called Girls at the Grill, and less than a year ago she launched Carolina Cue To-Go, an online barbecue shack that sells hickory-smoked pulled pork nationwide.

In the early years of her quest to become an expert in outdoor cooking, Karmel found that being a woman was a surprising advantage. “I was inquisitive and would go up to these old barbecue masters and they didn’t think I’d do anything with the information, so they told me the truth,” she remembers. “If I were a man they would’ve sent me on my way.”

She’s now a barbecue guru, the author of cookbooks including Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ, and a guest speaker on TV shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers. “I didn’t set out to be the grill girl, but everything that I ever cooked on an outdoor grill tasted better, and I fell in love with it,” she says.

By Karmel’s estimate, women who grill are no longer a minority, and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this claim.