TAMPA — Doug Driscoll was all about Corporate America. He wore the uniform, traveled quite a bit and missed his family a lot.
He and his wife decided to make a change. They drove from their Tampa home to Orlando and looked around at business opportunities. He wanted out of the corporate grind, and he wanted his wife and family with him.
“I wanted to spend more time with my family and I needed a change in lifestyle to do that,” Driscoll said. “We looked at businesses, and wrote down the pros and cons of doing something like that.”
Driscoll has always been interested in cooking and loved to work on the grill at home. It was a way to cook outdoors for the family and enjoy a bonding experience. That’s when it all came together. He decided to head back to Tampa, pull off the tie, and start a business dedicated to grilling.
He opened Just Grillin’ in 2004 and now, after 10 years, he has taken grilling to a whole new level. He is a professional griller, competes in contests around the country, and recently hosted the Tampa Backyard Barbecue Battle on June 21 at Carrollwood Park. He’s hoping that it becomes a sanctioned event by 2015.
Driscoll’s establishment on North Dale Mabry Highway has every gadget a griller could ask for — ranging from grills that look more complicated than the space shuttle, to tongs that can not only flip a chicken breast but take its temperature at the same time.
It’s all about flavor, he said. That includes everything from the “grill guck” to making sure that everything is cooked at the perfect temperature for the precise amount of time.
For instance, he said that a grill should heat for at least five minutes without being scraped. The “guck,” he said, adds flavor. But that’s not the only thing that adds flavor. Wood chips and plenty of other things at Just Grillin’ are all about having a certain flavor that can’t be found in the kitchen oven.
He can prepare fish, vegetables — even pizza — on the grill and offers weekly grilling lessons at his store. He said grilling is a lot easier than it seems and more than just hamburgers and hot dogs. Anything goes and it doesn’t take much more than a simple grill to get the job done.
“It’s really easy; just come to one of the classes,” Driscoll said. “You can make anything.”
Driscoll has started competing in professional events and learns and improves with each endeavor. The tournaments consist of three modules: appearance, flavor and tenderness. It’s a one-bite contest; he put on the same event at the Backyard Barbecue Battle.
Driscoll no longer needs to wear a tie to work. He’s an affable guy with a store that is filled with gadgets and almost anything else needed to bring the thrill of the grill to life.
Just Grillin’ is located at 11743 North Dale Mabry Highway. Call (813) 962-1700. Class schedules can be found at justgrillin florida.com.