Born to Grill™ With Seattle Butcher's Wife
Hey, BBQGuys! I’m Misty Banchero, the Seattle Butcher’s Wife.
Let me tell you one of the perks to being married to a fourth-generation butcher — you get to be the one who comes back home asking what’s for dinner! (And guess what? It’ll always be incredible.) Sure, I cooked here and there, but I didn’t exactly begin with this burning passion for grilling meat. While Angelo was busy running the family business, I worked hard as a district manager for brands such as American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret. That meant developing talent, building a team, tackling a lot of internal social media content, and really letting my competitive spirit drive results.
But here’s where it all started for me: my husband has this amazing, special story about his family and their business, Mondo and Sons, and I sat him down one day to convince him to get the story out there. While I made him build an Instagram page, he suggested I start something of my own. Now, I didn't want to be the face of Mondo and Sons. Why would I have? Sure, I thought I could help promote his work, but I didn't know anything about meat — at the time, my commitment to it started and ended with a dinner plate!
…Well, until I dug through all those tasty barbecue hashtags. All of a sudden, I found this world of people that held some serious passion for grilling. I watched these backyard grillers out there having a good time out there on the grill. Remember when I said I was competitive? I thought, “Man, that doesn’t look so bad. If these guys can do it, why can’t I!” It wasn’t that I all of a sudden decided on a career move; I was trying it out for myself, until I turned around and realized this had become this incredible, wonderful thing that I'm now completely addicted to.
I love that people organically see what I'm doing and follow along, finding inspiration in it and, you know, getting their grill on! Forget scrutinizing your daily follower count — I’m that Instagram chick who loves replying to DMs, especially when it comes to brand-new grillers. Ladies, dudes, whatever! I had no idea a couple years ago that anyone would ever send me a picture of something that they’d cooked, looking for feedback, or kudos, or to ask questions about it. Those interactions just enrich my life. And with Seattle Butcher’s Wife, I’m gonna show you that it’s not intimidating… it’s empowering!
Q & A With Seattle Butcher's Wife
First things first: Why do you do what you do?
Oh, that’s an easy one! Since I’ve started Seattle Butcher’s Wife, I’ve had many ladies tell me they’ve found one of my recipes, dusted off their husbands’ grills, then they’ve just started it up and made it. One told me, “My family’s so happy. They didn't even think I could cook very well!” I mean, are you kidding me? That’s so awesome! It’s so enjoyable to know what I’m putting out there is trickling down that way — that it’s that far-reaching. It just blows me away.
Here’s an example. I have family friends we visited on Halloween who had an adult costume party. It was really fun. One of them is a great friend of mine who’s known to be a really amazing cook among amongst his friends. At the party, I asked one of them, “Do you get to cook with him?” She says yes, then points out his birria tacos and calls them his best. Well, I go to congratulate him on them, and he comes back at me with, “That was your recipe! You made me famous with my friends. Everyone thinks I'm the boss with that!”
When I do this, not only am I influencing women that, you know, haven't touched their own grills possibly ever, but I also have these guys with 10 years on the grill trying out my recipes and showing me their results, telling me who they’ve impressed with them. It makes them feel like backyard heroes. I love everything about that. It’s so satisfying.
Fantastic! Let’s stay on that topic—if you’re entertaining company and really out to impress them, what’s your go-to BBQ plan?
Ooh. If it’s a pretty day in Seattle without rain — because that's just a bummer — then I’m doing a great porchetta or a prime rib on the rotisserie on the Arteflame! The grill’s just so impressive in action. It can be a challenge, you know, filling the plancha base with all your charcoal, then having the wood hit the right temperature, then maintaining that heat while the food’s spinning. But it's a spectacle, because it's something you just don't get to see every day.
Then, on the plancha beneath the rotisserie, I would do all the vegetables in every color possible. Not only are charred veggies great, but with all the color around the meat while it’s rotating… it’s it's like you're at a show! If I have friends over, our courtyard will turn into a party. And then when the Arteflame is done with all the meats, it becomes a fire pit — and then it's whiskey and cigars at night. That’s how we like to roll around here!
You know your entertainment! On that note, what sort of griller do you see yourself as?
An empowering one. An inclusive one. Part of me lives for the messages I get from fans showing me their BBQ fails and victories. I love being a part of that experience for them. Truth be told? My goal isn't to be the next brand ambassador for any particular grill company. I’m on a learning journey that's helping me get better, all the way around. That’s why I doubt I would end up becoming a competition griller. However, I'd love to join in on a barbecue team and learn how that side of things works! I look forward to getting up on stage someday, demonstrating some of the skills I've learned in barbecue.
Speaking of skills, what’s the most surprising cooking lesson you’ve learned this summer?
I don't know if I have any big surprises because I'm learning every day! It all feels like a tornado of learning. But one of the things that I had the opportunity for the summer was using a gas grill. And I don't have anything against gas grills… in fact, in my mind, I just thought they were easier! Aren’t they supposed to be the easy shortcut way to getting food on the grill quickly? That’s what I’ve always heard!
So, I partnered with a company and I got a gas grill, only to realize I'm not as good as I thought I was! I was thinking to myself, “Why can’t I seem to regulate the temperature?” I burned a couple of steaks figuring it out; I was pretty upset about that. Even with the “easier” styles of cooking, I learned for myself it takes reinventing your technique and getting things right to get your food to be cooked properly.
Unlike many of your BBQ peers, you have loads of experience in retail management. Do you plan to leverage that expertise?
Well, something I hope to do is support the family business, and that’ll probably come in handy there. I'm working with an organization right now that's putting together their website. It's slow but sure. I'm collecting photos, writing stories, and putting content together for Mondo and Sons. That should always be part of my main mission. It’s partially why I started this whole deal!
With that said, they aren't really a customer-facing butcher shop; they’re a USDA processing facility that's primarily wholesale, serving high-end local restaurants here in Seattle with premium meats. They provide private label and branded artisanal sausage for local health food grocery stores. It’s healthier food, because they don't use all the extra stuff in their sausage. But they do thousands of pounds of artisanal sausage, hams, the works! (Laughs.) Maybe I’m a little spoiled for choice with my meat cuts, I’ll admit.
Away from the grill, what else are you truly passionate about?
Family, of course! I’m a mother of three. So, spending quality time with my family means a lot to me, and it gets harder and harder to do as they get older. My oldest is my son, who’s 26. Then there’s my 19-year-old daughter, and my 15-year-old daughter. So, those guys — especially the teens — are pretty busy. Squeezing in some fun times with them is a lot of why I love to travel. I just love traveling. I know it's been really hard this past year, but I love going on vacation. Even if my husband's too busy with work, I'll just grab the kids and go because I like to go!
Well, there’s my perfect chance to ask about your favorite aspects of living in the PNW.
Easily the access to the outdoors and all the natural wonders around us. You know, we have hills and mountains and water everywhere. The weather’s tough here, but it keeps us green. Off my deck, I can see Mercer Island! I’m literally four miles away from the Space Needle! Reminds me of what we talked about earlier: where's there to go? What’s there to do? Here, there’s a million things to do!
But it’s the people, too. I thrive in a world of diversity and culture, especially as I’m lucky enough to have it in my community. My kids have always been something of a minority in their classroom. My family and I, we love being around people of different cultures, from different places. I think 98118 was voted the most diverse zip code, I don't know how many years ago, but that's because people from all over have landed right here in my neighborhood! I love that. I love the diversity and inclusivity of the area, mostly because it creates and fosters a really fun environment.
Is that so? What’s the culinary landscape look like out there?
Where I live in Seattle, there's Ethiopian food, there's Thai food, there's every Asian food you could ever imagine in our community. Lots of Indian food. It’s so eclectic for that kind of thing within Seattle — there’s little neighborhoods all around the city, and each one kind of has its own distinct personality. Every time you go to one of these little neighborhoods, it makes you wonder: “Wow, where did we just land?”
There’s this complete change in the vibe you get when you go to Little Italy or Chinatown. It’s not always the same theme. But there’s always a mix of really cool, unique, privately-owned restaurants I love, I'd love doing that. I wish I had more time for it. And, elephant in the room, it’s still so weird to do it right now. But I think that next year, hopefully, it'll get a little easier to dine out and feel more comfortable in your space.
It’s wonderful to hear that diversity is such a huge part of your life. Do you find it comes naturally to BBQ?
Thank you! Oh, barbecue is just that. I had the best time at a BBQ boot camp this last summer. I loved it so much. But I had the opportunity to see some truly awesome grilling women in action. And then, I also watched chefs and restaurant owners doing demos and barbecue over live fire, bringing their home cultures and teaching us about their own experiences.
One of those guys, Andy Husbands, really inspired me. He talked a little bit about the history of barbecue and told stories of where it came from. And what we see today is from a completely different place, with a completely different group of people. That's two distinctive sets of stories. I love the idea of digging back into the history of the art, to understand where some of this all started, because this food doesn’t come from just one place. Even comparing just the different styles of BBQ, you get this real sense of diversity where cultures and food meet. It fascinates me.
So, what’s next on the horizon for Seattle Butcher’s Wife?
Things that I want to pursue in the future would be workshops and supporting other people to learn how to grill. I see a lot of my friends doing that a lot — a lot of women in the space that offer different ways to attach to their audience, whether it's YouTube videos, channels, website links, TikTok posts…
But I would love to do some in person. I just love to be able to connect, to have a ladies’ night and show people the basics. I've started the conversations. I haven't implemented any classes yet. And I know it's still a little bit weird here with with COVID. It’s a dream of mine to be able to influence especially new or timid female girl grillers who want to learn all the basics. You know, without having to ask the hubby to get out there with them to help do it.
That’s fantastic to hear. We certainly need more grillers like you out there.
So much of this is based on it is my learning journey, my creativity. I was telling someone the other day, the retail side — where you do all the visual merchandising, and you can't have anything out of place, and the lighting must be just right — it’s marketing science, like staging. I mean, I am not a photographer; I use my phone. I don't have any editing equipment. I tell my story that way. And some people have even said, “Your pictures are approachable.” So I know what that means. That I'm not pro, right?
I think that translates a lot to my presentation. But the other thing, beyond the creativity and the visual part of it, is about playing with recipes and making them your own. There are so many recipes in the world: all over Pinterest, all over Google. If I want to make a lemon cake, I could look at a million recipes for lemon cake. Then, I could pull them all together and make what feels right, what makes sense, and make my own tweaks to it and call it my own. Sure, it's not always right the first time. But I love the process behind mastering something, like a recipe, then creating and refining your own version. And when you can turn around and empower others to experience that for themselves — especially women, in this industry? It’s just a wonderful feeling to have.
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