Thursday, July 18, 2013
AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN STEVENSON, AKA ‘DJ BBQ’
How did you end up getting involved with Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube project?
I was working on a couple of pilots with Jamie's production company, Fresh One. The first one was called ‘GRILLS, GRILLS, GRILLS’. It was based around interviewing musicians, artists and bands around food - I cook for them and they cook for me. And at the end of every show, the band had to do a cover of Motley Crue's ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ but substituting the word, "Grills". They could also opt to cover the Jay-Z song of the same name. No one picked it up.
We then did another pilot that was more in my realm of action sports - it was positively received and we could be making that one next year. Fresh One was then approached about doing an original channel for YouTube – and so Food Tube was born. They asked me if I'd like to do a show for Food Tube and now we've produced 11 videos, have over 200,000 subscribers, and we've had over 150 million views. It's only been 3 months.
You’ve proved to be one of the most popular chefs taking part in Food Tube. Do you think it’s because of what you’re cooking, or the unconventional way you go about cooking it?
Everyone has turned out to be popular - and a couple of the dudes already had TV/Webshows before coming on to Food Tube. I guess people relate to a bit of craziness and they like meat. I'm all about cooking big hunks of meat, but saying that, my FISH TACOS recipe got a lot of love and the most positive comments from the community.
Is it dangerous cooking with fire and sharp knives when you have a habit of wearing nothing but a spandex jumpsuit?
Hells yeah! First off, my spandex catsuits are not fire retardant. So, it gets hot when I'm near the firebox and cooker and the outfits don't retain heat when I'm working outdoors in the winter months. As for knives, I'm getting some lessons. Jamie put me in his butchery and restaurant at Barbecoa for a week. I learned so much whilst hanging with world champion butchers and executive chefs. Amazing!
Your smoker looks like a hollowed out steam train! Where the hell did you get that thing?
I watched too many episodes of Man Vs Food. Seeing what they were building in the States and not being able to find the same in the UK, we had to import our smokers. We spent last summer researching - every night for 2 months. We ended up buying three smokers/cookers from the man who builds more championship BBQ's than anyone else in the world - Ben Lang, of Lang’s Smokers. His smokers are 3rd generation and he's been making ‘em for over 25 years. He rolls his own ¼-inch steel. These babies are family heirloom.
Where is that little wood cabin where you film many of your recipes?
That's at a local farm. They are lovely people and that wood hut looks so rustic. They use it to store all their firewood. It looks like the most Disneyworld joint for a BBQ, minus the animated squirrels. We've had a lot of comments about that place. The recipes shot at this location proved to be the most popular. Location, location, location… and big hunks of meat.
What do you enjoy most about barbecuing food? What got you started?
I love working with fire and wood. I like the primal-ness of cooking with the elements. It's very caveman. You also get much better flavour when cooking with different types of wood. I will not cook on a gas BBQ. To me, there's no point - you might as well stay indoors. My father got me started in barbecuing at the age of 8. My dad learned to barbecue from Grandpa and he passed down the knowledge to me. There are excellent photos of Grandpa BBQ'n in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. Grandpa always had loads of ribs and chickens rocking at the same time.
Where do your recipes come from? Are they all handed down through generations or are they your own creations?
Some recipes are handed down through the family, whilst others are developed through trial and error. Working with Jamie and his crew has inspired me to try some new stuff. Gennaro [Gennaro Contaldo - respected Italian chef and fellow Food Tube contributor] asked me last week: "DJ BBQ, do you cook anything else but meat on your BBQ?" And I said I love cooking vegetables - especially potatoes. Gennaro got all excited and taught me a recipe where you shove a piece of chicken in a carved out potato. Add garlic, rosemary, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. I did it on Friday and it was awesome.
Out of all your recipes, what’s your favourite thing to cook?
There's nothing like shoving a can of beer up a chicken's ass. Or nailing a big ol slab of brisket where the thick layer of fat caramelises with the salt and pepper turning it into ‘Texas Foie Gras’. Then I really like making breakfast and diner food. Chilli and cheese omelettes are one of my favourite things to make and eat. Wait… Fish TACOS!!!! Love them!
In parts of America, barbecuing is a very serious business. Apart from only having about 2 minutes of sunshine a year, are the Brits doing barbecues wrong?
The Brits are embracing barbecuing but the supermarkets aren't helping. People think, “Summer= BBQ” but that's not the case. Barbecuing should be 365 and the supermarkets need to stock charcoal/lumpwood all year long.
What would you do if eating meat was illegal and you had to become vegetarian?
Eat Vegans! Then there's no one to complain. Apparently, plants feel pain. The problem with vegetarians is they keep eating my food's food.
THE BOOM OF THE BACON EXPLOSION
One of the most popular recipes created by Christian Stevenson, aka DJ BBQ, is the Bacon Fire Bomb – 3 pounds of woven bacon wrapped around pork mince, chopped vegetables and chillies, covered in a barbecue seasoning.
This meat extravaganza is DJ BBQ’s interpretation of the legendary (and now trademarked) Bacon Explosion recipe. Back in 2008, a couple of guys from a website called BBQ Addicts revealed the original Bacon Explosion recipe on their blog. Unexpectedly (but appropriately), the American football-sized pork meal exploded into an international phenomenon with media around the world eager to know more about the (at least) 5000 calorie feast.
Although the Bacon Explosion sparked worldwide interest, BBQ Addicts were not the first to unleash such the recipe into the wild. For example, a blogger calling himself Headless Blogger beat them to the potential heart attack with his own recipes he called the Redneck Sushi and Ultimate Fattie.
Thanks to the likes of DJ BBQ and his refined take on the original (hey, his version contains vegetables!) the legacy and controversy of the Bacon Explosion can continue to live on. Even if just hearing about the Bacon Explosion is intimidating, we dare you to watch DJ BBQ’s Food Tube video without your mouth watering…
GET SMOKING LIKE DJ BBQ
After wondering where Christian Stevenson got his eye-catching stars and stripes jumpsuit, many viewers of DJ BBQ’s Food Tube videos have still had a question – where the hell does he get a massive BBQ smoker like that?
The answer comes courtesy of a family business from Nahunta, Georgia called Lang Smokers (langbbqsmokers.com). DJ BBQ is the proud owner of several Lang BBQs and this impressive 60” BBQ smoker is just one the many he had shipped over from the States. From a ‘baby’ smoker up to a massive, 1500kg, 7-foot long model which has space for, according to the website, no less than ’80 pork butts’. And you never know when you might need to cook 80 of them. Quite a step up from the disposable BBQ you bought for a fiver from the petrol station…
You can watch DJ BBQ’s videos on Jamie Oliver’s YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/JamieOliver
DJ BBQ is available to hire for cooking and DJing: www.djbbq.co.uk