Never short of an opinion or two, DJ Sneak gets passionate about one of the loves of his life, the barbecue. Ahead of his upcoming gig for LWE at Tobacco Dock on August 9th, the one and only DJ Sneak regales Skiddle’s Mike Boorman in brilliant detail about all things BBQ; a topic so close to his heart that it caused a bit of a row with fellow BBQ-nut Seth Troxler after one cook off. We found out what the Chicago DJ believes is essential for an outdoor cooking spectacle.
Firstly, we know how much you like barbecues, so we would like some tips from you about how it should be done.
It’s really simple, no stress at all shall be involved in any part of the BBQ. One cannot cook when upset or stressed or all parties involved will suffer. A BBQ requires great tools, charcoal grill, real organic or veg charcoal and some of the best meat you can find at your local butcher. Never use prepackaged supermarket meat.
In summary, what do you think makes the perfect barbecue?
Love, music and fun all combined make the best of BBQs. There are lots of ways of doing it but this is my way. Plenty of good food, good vibes, lots of drinks and great weather… always works best for me.
If you could invite three people in the world to your next barbecue, who would they be and why?
I’m not a BBQ snob, I like to invite people who are great to talk to while I cook, I love to entertain and like to be entertained as well.
I love to invite people and their families, especially kids cause I have a few myself and it’s nice to see kids be kids around the grown ups, reminding us of the untainted perceptions of how we should act, speak or live… they’re free spirits.
What do you think is the ideal sound track to a barbecue?
Well, I really think dub reggae sets the mood right, add a bit of Nightmares On Wax music, a pinch of Mark Farina’s mushroom jazz, and then take it to the next level with some Jazzy Jeff mixes followed by some tunes by Greg Wilson; finish up with some Doc Martin west coast house music (or maybe Sneak’s latest release on Magnetic Recordings, which comes out on August 18… see below).
Do you think that using an oven to part cook the meat before putting it on a barbecue is cheating?
Definitely not – some of the best ribs & BBQ meats are often started in the oven to help the cooking process. Great ribs fall off the bone: this can only happen by slow cooking them first in an oven then on grill for the flavour and taste of the charcoal.
Anyway I know where this question came from – I know who won the cook off and it was not the person that made this comment. Even his team mates all agreed I took the title.
In which country do you think there are the best barbecues?
I would have to say the USA – it is BBQ country. Everybody has a way of doing things and the grilling tools are endless now. If you’re looking for a specific type of grill or tools they are often on sale at amazon. The US makes the best BBQ’s in the world, they covered this market long time ago.
Not to say that some places like Spain or Argentina are not to be included in this topic but I can only speak on what I have witnessed and tasted at the many RIBS & BBQ Festivals all around the States and Canada.
Who are the other DJs on the scene that do good barbecues?
Anybody can buy meat and slap it on a grill, but I have only encountered a few members of the DJ trade that love the grill as much as I do. I’m keen to see and try other’s if I get invited.
In Ibiza I only know a few guys that are true enthusiasts of the charcoal: Lee Curtiss, Alex Wolfenden, Reboot Darius Syrossian and few others. I love the fact that they put love into their cook offs… I see the pictures and I hear the stories and I can tell what kind of love they put into the food.
Are barbecues a big part of the culture of your Puerto Rican homeland?
Not as much if you are on the Island (Puerto Rico). It’s very unfortunate to say that most things are often fried. I picked up the skills in Chicago, where everybody has grills from single little ones to grand-master style. There are good places in PR too where they roast full pigs (lechon) that are to die for – you just have to look around for the good ones.
Puerto Rican foods can be great tasting but often too strong for most people; rice & beans, salads, meats of all kinds cooked all kinds of ways, fried side dishes which are incredibly good but bad for you at the same time… but what the hell you only live once, you gotta try the foods of the world.
When it’s cold and snowing in a Chicago winter, what do you do to get your barbecue fix?
HA! Well I put on my over coat and gloves and do BBQ the same way as I would in the summer… I have shoveled through snow to make a path to the grill and back to the kitchen! Snow, rain, winds, or winter can’t stop the great taste of charcoal. If I can’t or it’s way too cold we just go to a good place I know that smashes meats like it’s our style.
I’ve seen pictures of a barbecue you did in Ibiza where there were House Gangster-branded sauces, do you make your own sauces? If so, tell me what you like to make.
Sauces are very important and a beautiful compliment to a proper BBQ. I am working on a line of Sneak Rubs and Sauces and I believe this will come to fruition soon. Seasoning the meat with some delicious flavour is as important as cooking the meat to perfection.
I’ve created a very cool spice rub made with twelve different dry spices including three secret weapons I never share. We’re starting to see another way to promote our IAHG brand, and cooking stuff is great. We will have the House Gangster Rub ready for next year packaged and ready for everybody to get and start feeling that gangster grill love.
What type of steak works best on a barbecue, and how should it be marinated?
As you may know there are all kinds of cuts available for steak grilling; t-bone always taste best for the flavor… the bone brings it to the meat – it’s my favorite. NY Strip, Filet Mignon also. All you need is Malaysian rock salt, or some you could rub down with some Gangster Rub and you will get the best results.
What makes the perfect salad to go with a barbecue?
My wife and partner in crime puts together some amazing salads – it really is a perfect combo. A great salad is one that doesn’t run out. You may think people only eat meat at BBQs but so many people love the other stuff too! We do an amazing orzo pasta salad, one with lentils, olives and all kinds of fun stuff.
Straight up veggie salad is always great and even a good broccoli salad is amazing alongside a big piece of meat! Salads are all about the love and the extras added like homemade croutons or bacon but I think the most important is the most delicious homemade vinaigrettes and sauces my wife blends up.
What beers/lagers do you like to accompany a barbecue?
I’m not a beer drinker but it depends where the BBQs are. If in the states, Coronitas. In Netherlands, Heineken. In Spain, Estrella. In Canada, Molson Canadian or Boxer. So it works by territories I suppose.
Do you have a barbecue in your own home? If so, tell us about it, so the size of it, how it is heated etc.
I have a Chargrill Pro, not huge size but big enough to handle meats for like fifty people. I only use Charcoal Grills – I only buy the best charcoals in town at a very good BBQ store that has a room full of it, sometimes I’ll even switch it up and get the flavored Charcoal.
My method of ignition of the charcoal is by using these tube cans with a handle… they really are genius. It takes about fifteen minutes to have all the coals nice and red. And only use paper or cardboard to ignite the coals by the way – no kinds of chemical starters – this always makes my meats taste great like they should, not like chemicals.
What things annoy you the most when you go to other people’s barbecues?
Not being prepared enough to handle things, often over or under cooking meats, also what is VERY annoying is when they cover all meats with some sort of sauce and it just over powers the real taste of the meats.
Not all meats are the same and not all should have the same sauces or even rubs. I’m a fan of sauces on the side and a wide variety of sauces, ain’t nothing wrong with sticky fingers at a BBQ!
Which was the barbecue you have been to that you have enjoyed the most, and why?
Most often they’re just quiet intimate ones, really good friends and wine. I love a controlled environment where I never have to feel like I have jump in. I love kickin’ back and watching another enthusiast get busy.
Recently after a gig in Ireland they provided a grill top outside of my dressing room and my mate from Turkey brought some amazing lamb chops, seasoned them on the spot with the HG rub and got busy! It was dark and all phone lights were on to watch this dude kill it on the grill! It wasn’t a charcoal grill but he worked it and the lamb was great! Thanks to my mate Soydan for the love!
Will you be hosting some barbecues in Ibiza this summer?
We host BBQs at our home on a weekly basis, sometimes two or three times a week – it can get really crazy in the summer! We’re also looking around the island for some great spots and great grill tops where we can get down and invite a bunch of friends and fans here in Ibiza.
We always have mouths to feed around here… people need food after a few days of partying and we always love to throw down. We’ll announce them soon online, stay put and keep informed at djsneak.com and imahousegangster.com.
Are you going to have any more cook offs, like you had with Troxler for example?
I’m down but do not want any more dramas over grilling. Cook Offs are challenging – these events often turn political and are many times judged by one track minded people that look at popularity over grilling skills. If I get challenged I would consider it cause I’ve never been one to back down from a good challenge, but this would depend on who asks and the vibe they bring.
I ain’t about having negative energy and harsh competition around the meats I’m about to enjoy. For now I will just keep doing my grilling for family and friends, people that appreciate food, and for my own reasons to turn on the grill.