Ricky Albright is cooking up a career on Instagram, one grill at a time.
He has amassed more than 65,000 followers, regularly sharing mouthwatering reels with recipes for dishes he cooks on a variety of grills. Albright also recently started a Facebook page and You Tube channel, all as Iron Fire Cooking.
“I just enjoy cooking and teaching others how to cook,” says the Troy resident, who grew up in Montgomery and spent weekends on a farm his father leased in southeast Alabama. “I want to give my audience something of value, something they can relate to and go out there and cook.”
Albright’s following has led him to sponsorships with food and cooking-product companies. He creates videos with recipes and tips to post on the companies’ social media, as well as his own.
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Albright also caters parties and events, often using one of his Argentinian-style Fuegos TX grills, wood-burning contraptions with multiple surfaces and a cage to hang meat as it cooks. His largest also can be outfitted with a six-foot-wide sawblade from a corn cutter, repurposed into a griddle.
“Everything is adjustable,” he says. “You can have different fire areas—hotter on one side and cooler on the other. There is a rack big enough to lay out a small pig and roast that all day. It’s really eye appealing.”
These types of grills are a standard in Argentina for asado, social gatherings of friends or family who hang out all day as the food barbecues, and then dive in for a smoky, meaty feast. Think of it as football tailgating, except the only gridiron is on the grill.
Albright learned how to cook from his father, using a Big Green Egg kamado-style ceramic cooker. As a teen, Ricky would chuckle over how his dad kept meticulous notes of what worked and didn’t while perfecting his recipes. Now the son wants to use the recipes in a cookbook.
“He’s about to turn 72 and to this day he’s still a way better cook than I am,” Albright says. “He blows me away.”
Ricky Albright still uses Big Green Eggs in his grilling demos, along with different sizes of the Fuegos TX.
“I probably cook on a different grill every other day,” he says. “I’m always incorporating different methods and different techniques. Last week I cold-smoked some cheese for a company called Big Moo. It was delicious.”
Albright was working on a cattle farm when he began posting on social media. “I didn’t really know what Instagram was,” he recalls. “I had to learn what hashtags were. It was a totally different thing for me, technology-wise.”
His wife suggested sharing stills of the food he was always grilling. When reels became the thing on the platform, he bought the equipment and software he needed and learned how to shoot and edit video. A growing audience convinced him to get serious early last year. He started devoting more time developing the videos he regularly posted. He sought ways to monetize his work.
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Albright had always been particular about products he used to cook for dinner and make his videos. He first approached those companies, such as Selma-based Wagyu of Alabama, about sponsoring him to create content for their marketing.
He now has agreements with a half-dozen companies, including Moody-based J.M. Exotic Foods, makers of Sure Shot Sid’s spice mixes. In December, Albright won Johnsonville Sausage’s nationwide Titanium Tongs cooking contest held before the SEC football championship game in Atlanta.
“It was good exposure,” he says. “I’ve done some state competitions. But I had never been to anything like this. They mic’d me up. There were cameras in my face the whole time. I was a little bit nervous.”
It’s opening new doors for his budding business. Albright can see a day when Iron Fire Cooking pays the bills.
“From 15 months ago I went from knowing nothing about how any of this works to taking on customers and contracts and relationships with companies,” he says. “It’s just turned into a whole new realm. I think in six months we’ll be there.”