UK BBQ Mag Winter 2016/2017 - Page 55


DJ BBQ aka Christian Stevenson is a big personality on the UK BBQ scene, but we wanted to get behind the star spangled lycra, and find out more about the man, there's few people working so hard as Christian to get the word out about real BBQ. We are very fortunate to have an exclusive interview with him.

So Christian, please tell us some more about yourself and what you do?

Man, where do we start. I was born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland by my father. Dad and Grandpa were into cooking out. Grandpa especially. They grew up in Iowa and would do frequent roadtrips to the Dakotas for cookouts in national parks. Grandpa would have 3 chicken's on a spit with ribs, loose meat (Iowa speciality that sounds wrong but tastes right), sauces, spuds, the works.

Grandma would grow and pickle everything. I need to get some more of her pickling recipes.

My dad taught me how to cook BBQ at a young age. This sparked my interest in cooking over live fire.

I presented and produced a TV series for channel 5 in the UK for 10 years and would take a Weber Kettle grill on tour. The exec producer told me to quit pushing the BBQ stuff as it was a youth show about Skateboarding and Snowboarding (Action Sports). When that finished, I pursued Live Fire cooking as a career.

Now we have one of the loudest food trucks in Europe that tows Della (60" Lang reverse flow offset firebox smoker/40" grill). We catertain at festivals and I produce a weekly video recipe on my DJ BBQ YouTube channel. When I'm not cooking BBQ, I'm hosting Motorcross and FMX events around the UK.

Looks like you have had a pretty busy summer of BBQ so far, what have been your highlights?

There are so many. We introduced true British BBQ to our menu this summer. We cooked top bit( Beef leg) over live fire. Matt Williams from Oxford Charcoal is our firestarter, maintainer, and firebox manager. He's the best. Beef needs to be kissed by live fire. Putting beef into an oven isn't "Roast Beef" it's "Baked Beef". It ain't the same. The beef leg was a big hit. It's a tasty spectacle. We bring our soundsystem and DJ's to select events like Camp Bestival, Big Feastival, and On Blackheath. And it's always a fun party.

You obviously love getting your boys involved in cooking, what are their favourite BBQ dishes?

They are getting quite good at cooking BBQ. Blue(16 years old) loves everything especially steak.

Noah(12 years old) is really into seafood. Frasier(10) can make sausages and butcher a chicken. He's excellent on the grill and knows how to read hotspots and create excellent caramelization.

What kit do you cook on? and what's your favourite?

I cook on whatever is in front of me. I like adapting to the territory. But my preferred cookers are my Langs (36", 60", and The Indimidator 180")

I have three cookers in the backyard that get used all the time.

Weber Kettle


and Pit Barrel.

Different tools for different jobs.

I also just took hold of a Busbecue which is a grill made to look like a VW Samba split screen bus.

BBQ in the UK is growing massively, why do you think this is, and where do you see it headed?

I love the UK scene. It's a proper family. No bitch talking, only helpful encouragement from all sides. I like what Country Woodsmoke has done to build this scene. It's a safe place for all to go and ask questions no matter how basic. Cooking over live fire is an intimidating thing for many people and learning how to maintain your heat is a huge task. Everyone is so welcoming. There's no smack talk. Then we have Grillstock, The Big Grill( Ireland), and Meatopia...three festivals that push the scene of live fire cooking. Meatopia doesn't allow any gas or electric cookers to be used at the chef's booths. I love it here.

The book is going great guns and is inspiring a lot of folk to go for bigger bolder flavours on the BBQ, any plans for another book?

That's the main focus right now. We've already developed around 80 killer recipes. I've been speaking to publishers the last couple months and am trying to find the right home for book number 2. The first book is still selling well and I'm super proud of it. I've learned so much over the past 3 years since writing it and I'm super pumped to get the next one out. I'm a lot better than I was 3 years ago but I'm always learning. I want to do more travelling and see how the rest of the world cooks with live fire. I just returned from southern Portugal with 6 awesome recipe ideas and I'm looking to fly to Porto next month to do more research. I haven't explored much of the north Portugal food scene. The Algarve is my second home. I use to spend summers down there Dj'n and bartending in clubs. My fave places to eat are in Lagos and Burgau, Portugal.

Who inspires your outdoor cooking? Everyone!!!!! Meeting people from all over the planet and seeing how they cook with fire is the best. All the subscribers on my YouTube channel are amazing with their comments. They ask for specific dishes and I love to answer back with a tasty video recipe. Hosting Meatopia is one of the best experiences as I'm a sponge on that stage. I get to meat the best chefs in the world and ask questions. I take so much away from that festival and I hope the crowd does too. My fav pitmasters and chefs are:

Ray Lampe (Dr. BBQ)

Francis Mallman

Neil Rankin

Jonathan Sawyer

Niklas Ekstedt

Marco Sheppard

Chris Taylor

Matt Blak

Hang Fire

Tim Byres

Matti Hurrtia

Sean Brock

and all the crew at Hometeam BBQ in Charleston, SC.

What's your number one tip for BBQ beginners?

Cook on charcoal and set your fuel up for indirect cooking. I would recomment the half and half technique. charcoal on one side, none on the other. Goof proof cooking. When fats render down and kiss the coals, you can get flare ups that can get outta hand so having an indirect zone really helps. Get a cooker with a lid so you can turn that grill into an outdoor oven.

Buy well sourced and well made charcoal. Know where your fuel comes from.

What next for DJ BBQ?

I've got a commercial coming out in the states for Kid Rock's new BadAss Grill.

Loads of new recipes will be wielding there way onto my YouTube channel.

I'm also developing some TV program ideas.

Look out for a bunch of my recipes over at FOOD.COM.

And mainly spending more time with my 3 sons.

I might also look at getting a dog.

Go for it if you have anything else you'd like to talk about :)

I found a vintage cookbook last year in a charity shop in Woolwich. It's called "The Way to a Good Table- Electric Cookery" published in 1938. It's a book explaining how to use all these new fangled inventions like refrigerators and electric indoor cookers. It must of been such a foreign thing for people back then to not use live fire. Mankind has always cooked BBQ but it's only been over the last 70+ years that we've switched to gas and electricity which have no flavours and are bad for the earth. Charcoal is a locked system. The trees give us oxygen and they store the carbon, we cook it and release it but it's a circle. It's how it always was and will be. Cooking on gas and electricity release hyrdocarbons which have been buried in the earth for hundreds of thousands of years. They are just warming up the earth. Use charcoal. Use locally made charcoal. Oxford Charcoal cook their woods at lower temperatures to retain the volatiles that can impart wood note flavours to ones bbq. Or make fresh charcoal. Cook on wood. Just get cooking. Go outdoors and light a fire.

Would you have a recipe or video you'd like in the mag? I can add a youtube vid if you have a particular favourite?