by Addie Sejan | AHL On The Beat
In 2011, Eric Gryba won the Calder Cup with the Binghamton Senators. The young rookie would go on to play in the NHL, where he spent six seasons with Ottawa, Edmonton and now New Jersey.
Fast-forward to 2019. Gryba may be back in Binghamton, but the experience he has under his belt is astounding — both in the NHL and in his personal life. He has grown in knowledge, skill and family. Day in and day out, Gryba is preparing himself for the next practice or battle and doing it in a slightly different way than other players in the game.
Gryba is a grill master, and while he might not consider himself a professional chef, his excitement for nutrition and food has brought him into a world where he can embrace his two passions.
The Devils defenseman’s journey into the world of cooking and clean eating started at a young age.
“I grew up hunting,” said Gryba. “My earliest memories are spending time outside hunting and fishing. You know, basically anything in the outdoors. And then my dad has always been a really good cook. He’s the one who taught me a lot about hunting and fishing as well. So, it’s kind of just an easy transition from hunting to cooking for me.
“You’re able to do the whole process from start to finish. You know, I think there is a disconnect with a lot of people who don’t really know where their food is coming from. I really like knowing that I am able to harvest an animal and prepare it and consume it. For me, that whole process is important.”
Fortunately for the Saskatoon, Sask., native, nutrition and sport go hand in hand.
“I think nutrition has always been an important thing for me. Obviously, over the years I’ve gotten better and better with my nutrition and diet and that’s because I’ve had so many resources through hockey… you’re able to fine-tune your diet and fine-tune what you’re putting into your body. I’m pretty proud of what I am able to do now in terms of my diet.”
And he shares his tips, tricks and treats with his team. Gryba will frequently host cookouts for the other players — events that bring the team together.
“He’s very passionate about cooking and it’s something that he puts a lot of time into,” said Devils goaltender Cam Johnson. “He tests a lot of different recipes, a lot of all-natural ingredients and he gets really creative. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to go over [to his house] with the team and I’ve had a taste of it first-hand. It’s unbelievable. He didn’t even have a recipe for what he made. He just threw it together. He’s a guy that’s very knowledgeable about cooking and he’s very good at it.”
“I’ve never had any complaints yet, so that’s good.” Gryba said. “Whenever I have the guys over I never experiment with something new. It’s usually something that I know will turn out really well. I’ll do more experimentation with my wife, where we try new recipes and new techniques.”
Gryba’s second passion has attracted the attention of some very important people. “Grilling with Gryba” can be seen on WildTV in Canada and his Instagram is jam-packed with pictures of his creations.
“I’ve been pretty active on social media for the past four years and really built a fanbase of people wanting to watch me grow and see the things that I’m cooking,” Gryba said. “I was then approached by a hunting network to have my own television show. It was an easy transition to me because I’m doing what I do anyway.
“But now I have a cameraman who follows me around once in a while.”