What are some of your earliest memories of food as a child?
Emcee Sick: Damn, this kind of hits me in the heart, it immediately starts up some Kev Brown lines from a joint called "Alone Again" in my head yet again, which very much reminds me of weekends as a kid:
"... warm summer days, cook outs in our hood. Pops grilling hot dogs on the barbecue, in the backyard with the dog running loose. I miss you dad, you was a real good dude, I'm glad when people say I remind them of you."
Hot dogs aren't really key to anything here, but the whole image resounds deeply to me. I grew up in the Pelham Parkway neighborhood of the Bronx, and in our little backyard (which seemed so big back then, it's really very small when I've gone back to see my childhood home) my dad would grill out on a Saturday or a Sunday almost every weekend in the warm months. In preparation for these he would often take me and the dogs to various parks and woods in the area to collect wood - cuz of course lighter fluid was no bueno. He had a rotisserie contraption with a little motor that he was able to mount onto the grill, because he loved grilling whole chickens. He was the cook in our little family, and of course I would hang around with him and watch, he did it for relaxation being that his weeks were crazed being he was an extremely hard working man. He didn't really like being asked a lot of questions, so I'd try not to be annoying, and realize I learned a lot about what cooking and grilling really is by taking it in in a slow, watchful way.
DJ Form: My mom worked full time as a cook when I was young and we moved to the Detroit area from Israel when I was about 1 year old so I grew up on a fairly diverse diet, everything from Middle Eastern staples like Baba Ganoush to typical American family meals. Pretty much every Friday for the past 40 years she makes Challa bread from scratch. It's an all day process from when she starts until it's ready. As long as I can remember she would have me help her make the bread. When it's done baking, if it's still warm when you eat it there's nothing like it. That and her matzah ball soup are fantastic in my opinion. That's probably my earliest memory. When I would stay with my Dad and stepmom it was always a lot of meat. Gamey and strange meat sometimes. I remember him feeding me lamb brains when I was super young. It's made me more adventurous though, I'll pretty much try anything. My step mother is British and she's a great cook as well. Her Cornish Pasties are off the chain.
You host some legendary beach BBQs in the summers. Tell us a little bit how they got started and what a typical menu would be for them?
Emcee Sick: As witnessed by the above, I certainly love BBQing, and in past years I have taken up smoking albeit that I do it in my own style - like most things with my particular self I guess. These epic BBQs on the beach here in Chicago have grown naturally from the love of gathering with good people around music, as well as the love of humanely-raised animals and great organic produce. Form, some close homies and I rent a truck and bring our whole turntable set-up, power generators, canopy tents, damn near a professional kitchen worth of supplies and food, seating, and much much more. We usually choose a warm weather holiday and those days are some of the greatest in our lives, albeit they're a ferocious load of work spanning like 60 hours at least when all's said and done.
DJ Form: Sick doesn't like to big himself up too much but at the BBQs his signature dishes in my opinion are his grilled and marinated portabellas and the steaks. Both are incredible.
Where did you learn to BBQ and what would say is your proudest dish you cook up?
Emcee Sick:Per the unabridged recounting above about watching my father cook and bbq, combined with years of trial, error and experimentation after his early passing, I've ended up with a very hectic, original, and creative style. I guess the most notable creation, asides from my forte of grass-fed / pasture-raised grilled medium rare steaks, is: My smoked Slagel Farms pork-shoulder tacos. I smoke these humanely-raised pork shoulders overnight every so often at the crib on a small smoker with my very specific smoking methods (developed by endless fuck-ups) using mesquite, other woods, and natural hardwood charcoal. After about 8-12 hours at steady lower temps with blends of dried herbs, roots, smoking aromatics, and steam components, I pull it, let it cool, slice up the cuts, and vacuum seal + freeze the shoulder to await it's fate on the kettle grill. Once finished with some freshly splashed spice additional these are garnished with organic cilantro, org onion, org fresh cut mango, and my own org hot sauce (I've jarred and sold) to be served on fresh grilled organic corn tortillas.
DJ Form: I learned the basics from my friend Marcel when we were in high school in Michigan but it was a crude operation sometimes. Once his cousin was spraying a crazy amount of lighter fluid on the fire and while he was squeezing the bottle it ran out of fluid and the flame shot into the bottle and exploded in his face, leaving him standing there covered in soot and smoke, looking like Wile E. Coyote after he got blown up by the Road Runner. I learned from that. I also refined my technique as I got older. Basic things like learning to let all the black on the coal burn off and letting stuff cook slow on the edge of the grill. As far as food I keep it pretty simple. Bratwurst, steak, BBQ chicken, maybe sometimes a pork tenderloin.
Have you got any favourite food references in rap?
Emcee Sick: "... I don't wanna, I gotta, we cookin steaks." - Slum Village "Players"
DJ Form: "When we do arise it's time for brunch, ham & eggs, 2 pig's feet and Captain Crunch" - Black Sheep "Gimme The Finga"
If the world runs out of meat – what are you cooking up?
Emcee Sick: Some organic vegetable soups maybe, definitely including seaweed, maybe with miso as well?
You moved from Buffalo to Chicago – how do the culinary scenes differ and are there any spots you miss in Buffalo?
Emcee Sick: Definitely miss Buffalo Wings, which many people don't know originated in the city actually, seems like a no-brainer but that fact seems to surprise folks way more often than I'd expect. My heart and health I'm sure don't miss amazing Buffalo wings as much as I do, but I still have a top 5 list going of wing spots here in Chi-town. Chicago is a GREAT food city, with many really amazing farm-to-table restaurants, as well as classic eateries. Not a big deep dish guy being from the Bronx, but I gotta say the highlight of Chicago food staples to me is the Char-Polish, most notably on Maxwell Street.
DJ Form: I love mushrooms as a meat substitute. That and kimchi. I'll put kimchi on anything.
Hardwood-coal grilled Mango Habanero Org Chicken Thighs
A few pounds organic chicken thighs, cuz they hold up real well on the grill at that singeing heat.
couple org. Habaneros, which are hard to come by but well wroth it, some regional farms here in IL have had em so we've been lucky.Two-three fresh org mangos, cut into thin strips and chunks, and don't let the juice get away.
A couple org yellow onions cut thick.
A healthy half a finger of fresh org ginger root minced real thin.
Couple small to medium handfuls of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
Some splashes of either good blanco tequila or clear rum to taste.
1/4 cup of fresh local honey.
2-3 fresh squeezed org limes.
A full bunch of fresh organic cilantro chopped, of course peeps either love it or hate it so you can have it in a bowl and add it once the thighs are plated, albeit I like it in there and believe that peeps just won't even know there was cilantro in it once the grill has had its way with em.
4 Tablespoons org paprika
2 finely minced organic garlic scapes, the green part only, def don't throw out the bulby part being those are amazing!
A few bags of natural hardwood charcoal, not crappy briquets, and why so much..(?).. cuz you won't be only bbq'ing only once a summer!
Get the chicken thighs in all of the above in a nice big bowl and let the flavor infiltrate em, move em around innit and appreciate all the vivid colors.
Get those hardwood coals nice and white hot, please use a starter chimney and no nasty lighter fluid, and depending on size of grill keep em to one side of it so you have a side that's not inferno temp.
Once coals're white hot, drop the marinated sweet and spicy thighs liberally on the grill to a pleasing sizzle, definitely let the heat sear em good, turning em here and there but not babying them being that thighs are more resilient than breasts ... nahhh mean?
You don't need to serve with anything really, except a cold, light summery beer sounds about right.. but they do go good with a fresh organic salad with org unfiltered apple cider and a Nunez de Prado olive oil, and some corn would be good too.
Enjoy and much love.