Chef Spotlight: John D. (barbecuebeast)
When he started a New York City-based food vlog eight years ago, John DeMartino had no idea it would be the beginning of an intense love affair with BBQ. The lifelong foodie became passionate about exploring different varieties and techniques, bought a Traeger, and the rest is history. He sat down with Dalstrong to talk about perfecting brisket, the importance of humor, and why he once waited in line for three hours to eat legendary BBQ.
Talk about your inspiration and background a bit...
I’ve been a foodie my entire life. I was a heavy set kid, so I just ran with it. I started a blog a while ago, inspired by a move to Manhattan. Living in the city, I was inspired by so many places to eat. It was called Food ‘n Festivities, No BS. The point was to highlight food and nightlife with no bullshit. It was a man vs food vlog type thing. It was really cool, I highlighted different spots along the way. That’s when I started to love BBQ, the variety out there. I totally got into it. I started smoking on a Traeger, started expanding my techniques. That was almost seven years ago, now it’s my main focus.
You incorporate humor into your posts. (Love the Leslie Jordan meme.) Is it important to keep a sense of humor while cooking?
One of the things I'm trying to do is let my voice carry into my posts. It can get repetitive and bland to just keep posting food over and over, I want to tie the BBQ together with some fun. People are obviously interested in BBQ, tips and tricks with cooking. There’s a similar personality type and relatability that could be funny and lets more come through beyond how long to smoke a piece of meat. Although, most people want to just go back to talking about smoking meat.
Do you have a favorite, “never fail” recipe?
Probably brisket. It’s a very long process. Takes 18 hours from start to finish. Consistency of “low and slow,” wrap it midway through, then finish by wrapping in towels after it’s completely cooked, and put it in a heated cooler and let it sit for a couple of hours.
Do you have any favorite hacks or tips for shortcuts?
There aren’t any shortcuts in BBQ. You have to cook it on low heat for a long time. You have to give it the time you need for the best quality. No way around it.
Do you have any passions outside of BBQ?
I’ve been day trading. I don’t know if that’s interesting. My background is in sales, I’m passionate about entrepreneurial ideas in business. I’m drawn to innovative ideas, I read a lot about new ideas, technology.
Do you have any cooking heroes?
The only person that I’ve maybe ever idolized is Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin BBQ. It was the first BBQ I ever had in Texas. I stood alone in line for three hours waiting for it. They came around and sold some beer to help pass the time. I was starving by the time I got to the front, so I ordered 2.5 lbs of meat, it was like $70! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. His work has taken him to a different level. He has a cookbook, TV show and tons of other air time, a lot of people look up to him and also hate him. Probably means he’s doing something right.
Is there a spice or ingredient you secretly hate?
Honestly, I hate ginger. Ginger root, the spice, all of it. Keep it away from me.
What are the three things every kitchen needs?
A good knife, good gloves, and a solid cutting board.
What’s your favorite Dalstrong knife?
What’s the dish that is most frequently screwed up?
Definitely brisket. It’s everyone’s favorite BBQ, but not a lot of people get it right. They don’t want to put in the time. They try to cut corners, and you can tell in the final product.
If you could cook a meal for one person (not a friend or family member), who would it be?
Gordon Ramsey. I’d like to see how bad he ripped me apart.
What’s the mark of a great chef?
Attention to detail. Excellence is in the details, that extra time and attention you put in to get quality.
What would your last meal be?
I love giant beef ribs. I’d add some really creamy mac and cheese, just a lot of carbs, grits. (Hold the veggies). And any ice cold beer.
You can learn more about John by following his BBQ journey on Instagram (@barbecuebeast).