For good times and good people.
What does the outdoors taste like? Is it adventure, action, or serenity? The tang of smoke, or the piquancy of chilies and lime? Oh, and how do you like your main course … boisterous with a lively crowd, or quiet and contemplative, shared with intimate friends?
That’s what Eric and Wendy Dunn envisioned when designing the signature grill for their Hooray Ranch, and judging from personal experience, they hit the bull’s-eye. Around a sizzling grill covered in prime steaks, Eric told me “Every day is an opportunity to get out there and create the best life.”
It’s how Hooray Ranch (and ultimately Grill) got its name—a family tradition of peak outdoor experiences, gathering together, and cooking out. Hooray for good times, Hooray for good people, he says, and from the looks of the crowd gathered around his Santa Maria-style, state-of-the-art grill, it works. Smiles, sneaky sampling, friendly chat, and periodically a deep breath followed by an expression of awe at the surroundings. Just. As. Advertised.
I scouted elk with Eric, right-hand-man Chad Pore, and grill company General Manager Nate Durr in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, starting and ending each day around the Hooray Grill. We tracked bulls in deep timber, watched herds course a mountain meadow, heard ruffed grouse drumming. Whitetails stared across canyons as we snuck past, and each evening the Hooray Grill became our natural gathering place. Stories and tall tales ensued. Even before Dunn explained his motivation, I’d sussed it out. “We designed our grill to rekindle the art of cooking out and spending time together,” he says, and it’s easy to see how the design and functionality help accomplish their goals. Like a signature landscape feature or roaring fireplace on a chilly night, a Hooray Grill draws the eye and like a magnet brings people together, literally and emotionally. Pure, unadulterated fire attracts our inner caveman; mouth-watering aromas beckon.
The flexibility of a Hooray Grill allows you to cook just about anything, anytime, adding mileage to the outdoor cooking season. From cast iron to casseroles, flat-top hotcakes to sizzling steaks, the glowing coals and intuitive design offer cooks a myriad of options. The culinary artist has a blank canvas; duffers like me simply can’t screw up … at least very much.
At Dunn’s Elk Song Ranch, we dined (I had to promise not to pick up a spatula) in nature’s splendor, the experience tinged with wood smoke and a hint of the surroundings for seasoning: pine and wildflowers, Texas saddle leather, and the thunder of flying grouse. And for the record, it’s a helluva lot easier to hear a bull elk bugle when you’re gathered at a Hooray than it is holed up in a boring kitchen. A Hooray Grill puts users, and onlookers, smack-dab in the outdoors, where mere eating becomes an adventure.
California vaqueros created the Santa Maria-style grill a hundred or more years ago, but Hooray has fine-tuned it for a modern outdoor lifestyle. Prototyped and field-tested at its namesake ranch in Kansas, precision engineering and industrial-strength materials ensure long life. Welds are clean, even. Stainless steel, brass, and high-carbon steel are deployed where their unique characteristics are most needed. The units are over-engineered for bomb-proof performance. Built in Kansas, U.S.A, of course. It is the last grill you’ll ever buy.
Over a massive firebox, the grill raises and lowers with a mechanism resembling a fine old watch. Gears, pinions, and drive chains operate smoothly and quietly. Design touches give the cook limitless options for heat, height, cooking vessel, and cleaning. Wheels allow you to move from rainy patio to covered deck, tailgating location to party spot. A rotisserie expands cooking options up to and including a whole hog.
Embracing the outdoors is the goal, says Durr, stirring beans in a Dutch oven as he curates his coals at one of our lunches, commanding view of an elk-filled swale in the distance. Like a bull elk ghosting past, cooking can take your breath away … if you head outdoors and become an active participant. Flames, smoke, the crackle, and sparks flying are as primordial a reminder as you can have of a hunt or pre-season scout in the dark woods … without cow-in-heat urine on your boot soles!
As Durr tended chicken one night, spices melding with convivial debate about camo patterns and hunting strategy, I remarked that I’d first thought “Cadillac of grills” was an apt metaphor. As I watched him manipulate the grill with ease like a conductor in front of an orchestra, I upgraded my description to the Mercedes-Benz of grills.
As the coals glowed and talk turned to elk season, it hit me: just as you value a custom rifle, flawless optics or epic habitat, a grill can extend the adventure long after you return from a day afield. It’s not cheap. But if you live to bag trophy elk and 200-class whitetail or dream of chasing marlin in Los Cabos, then the Hooray Grill belongs in your backyard.
Varying in size and options, both Hooray Grill models come with three cast-iron grill grates; one-handed grilling grate adjustment; ¾- or one-inch stainless-steel crank shaft; folding table(s); heavy-duty 3/16-inch welded-steel firebox; high heat-rated industrial coating; 14-gauge structural steel tubing frame; commercial-grade eight-inch aluminum casters and fold-out steel shelves. Price: $2,250 to $8,600 (financing available). More info: hooraygrillco.com.