Beats and BBQ - recipes from food loving DJs

Claude VonStroke, DJ Sneak, Paul Oakenfold and Tom Trago give us the low down on their relationship with cooking plus their ultimate BBQ recipe.

Becca Frankland

Last updated: 1st Aug 2018

Claude VonStroke


How did your relationship with food and cooking begin and develop?

When I was a kid I knew next to nothing. I could boil water and make hot dogs. I could use the microwave. Cooking wasn’t a valued asset in our family dynamic. As I grew older I started cooking a bit more but it wasn’t until we started the Dirtybird BBQ that I started getting into actual delicious cooking.

Do you think you can draw parallels between your relationship with food and your relationship with music? 

I feel like the two things are so closely related. A chef is like a musician; they have a palette and an audience and they can create a mood, it's really similar to what I do.

Unfortunately unless the chef comes out to introduce themselves they might not get the same kind of real time feedback like I do as DJ but still - the chef knows when things are going well and when they aren’t. They can “play” to the audience or choose to educate them. They can go for the easy kill or go for the more finesse move. It’s all very similar. 

You've been running the Dirtybird BBQs for a while now, how did the idea come about and why do you think people enjoy them so much? 

A lot of elements make up the party, it’s now the same as a single day festival. I think people enjoy being outside listening to house music and also having access to great tasting food and drinks at the same time. The idea came from Christian Martin 15 years ago. He was a big fan of all the big outdoor San Francisco based collectives like Sunset. 

Then our great friend Chris Wilson (rest in peace) really brought the BBQ element to life at these parties. He was always grilling and making the food portion of the event part of the experience. It just kept evolving until he became known as Grillson and the whole thing was a big BBQ instead of just music.

Your favourite condiment? 

Guacamole - is that a condiment? I love avocados so much. I eat one every day out in California. We even have an avocado tree that we planted about 10 months ago in our back yard. No fruit yet but I’m hopeful.

Your ultimate BBQ recipe?

This is a recipe I borrowed from my friend Greg who is the owner and head chef at departures in Portland. 

Chipotle Apricot BBQ ribs (serves 4)

For the Chipotle-Apricot BBQ Sauce

10 oz apricot jam

10 oz ketchup

2 chipotles, chopped fine

4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 tablespoons honey

8 oz tamari soy sauce

4 oz red wine vinegar

2 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.

For the beef ribs

5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning

Vegetable oil for cooking

3 medium onions, chopped, fine

10 cloves peeled garlic, chopped fine

2 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350°.

Season short ribs well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Working in batches, brown short ribs on all sides until golden brown. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Cook onions and garlic in dutch oven. Season gently with salt and cook until golden brown and tender.

Add beef ribs to Dutch oven and cover 3/4 way up beef with Chipotle-Apricot BBQ Sauce. Save any remaining BBQ sauce. Fill rest of Dutch oven with beef stock. Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2½ hours. With a slotted spoon, transfer short ribs to a platter and let cool completely. Place Dutch oven on burner and reduce all cooking sauce and any remaining BBQ sauce until thick enough to glaze. Check for seasoning. 

To Grill Beef Ribs -Heat a grill to medium heat. Very lightly oil beef ribs and with a brush start glazing with reduced BBQ sauce. Glaze well. Ribs are ready when lightly charred. Enjoy!

Paul Oakenfold


How did your relationship with food and cooking begin and develop?

I studied for four years to be a fully qualified chef when I left school.

Do you think you can draw parallels between your relationship with food and your relationship with music? 

There are no parallels between music or food. You can like one or the other.

Having worked with Pork & Mindy's, a creative BBQ concept, in the past, what did you learn about that type of food and cooking?

I’m a big fan of BBQ food. I often eat it when I go to Texas and go to garden parties. Over the years, food has become a lot more technical and I’ve grown to become a great lover of world cuisine. I’m open to trying many different things.

Your ultimate BBQ recipe?

Perfectomundo Reposado with salt and pepper.

You let the meat sit in it for about an hour then put it on the grill. It gives it a great kick.

DJ Sneak


How did your relationship with food and cooking begin and develop?

It started at a very young age, I loved to be around the kitchen watching what grandma and my mom would be prepare for supper. As you can all imagine the skill set was grand. My family are from Puerto Rico, we love to cook and eat, for all the family. I can honestly say I was helping my mom out daily from around 8 years old, I took to it very fast as I loved the dishes, especially from my grandma.

Do you think you can draw parallels between your relationship with food and your relationship with music? 

One hundreds percent. I am often inspired by food and music at the same time. I usually think about what to prepare for the day and dinner while I’m listening to music or even making music, your food should be prepared with love. A happy chef or cook can deliver a beautiful spread of food and it will make you feel good. 

You started your own range of House Gangster Sauces & Rubs, how did you work on creating those flavours? 

Well, I have a recipe ready for IAHG Dry Rub with a formula to make BBQ sauces in the future. I need to make the connection with the food world to support a solid BBQ rub with great sauces. I just blended a few ideas together like I do with music. My rub is dry and  includes nine spices and three secret ingredients. 

I’m still very involved in DJ and music life which takes a whole lot of my time. Everything will come together soon and will be available for all to buy and try. Check out @TonyGrillington for an idea of what's to come.

You've previously hosted BBQs in Carl Cox’s back garden in Ibiza, if you could go B2B cooking with another DJ, who would join you on the grill?

I would totally share the grill with others, I know there are a few really good grill enthusiast around Ibiza. I know a couple of German DJs who are good on the grill, Timo Maas and Reboot are my top picks. I have grilled in the island for years, I am keen to have a great time whilst cooking, if anybody wants to get down, holler at the chief! 

Your ultimate BBQ recipe?

I cannot share my top secret recipe to the world but I will share a simple lamb grill recipe that anybody can do. 

1 kilo Lamb chops 

3 cloves garlic (chopped)

Mint (bunch)

Parsley (bunch) 

Paprika (3 tablespoons) 

Cumin (3 or 4 tablespoons)

Salt (2 tablespoons)

Pepper (1 tablespoon) 

For the sauce:

1 serving of plain Greek Yogurt

1 Garlic clove

1 small cucumber 

1 cup of mint 

Season the lamb

Lay all chops season them with the salt - pepper - paprika - cumin  on both sides of chops 

Add the chopped garlic - chop up the parley small as well as the mint

Sprinkle on top of chops both sides

Let them sit for at least 10 mins while you get your grill ready, I am a charcoal man so I prep the coal whilst I’m prepping the lamchops so when I’m ready I go right over to the grill to get the grillin’ on point. 

For the sauce

Drop yogurt in bowl, chop the mint and garlic small as you can

Chop cucumber even with skin to small pieces 

Blend all together by hand and bingo! Fresh sauce for the chops.


I usually work by cooking on coals but you all can do gas too 

Place all chops in medium to low heat, give them an average of three mins per side and turn them until they're nice and golden brown

They do not take more than 10 mins to cook, take them off heat when ready

Let them sit for three-five mins

Sprinkle any left over parsley and mint on top

Serve it up with the sauce 

Tom Trago


How did your relationship with food and cooking begin and develop?

My parents and family always cared a lot about food and sitting at the table and taking time to enjoy meals and conversations. I also remember my father used to take Sundays out to make rabbit stew, I used to dislike the smell of that a lot. The whole house used to smell like wild animal.

As a travelling DJ visiting many countries I came across so many different cuisines that I started to develop my own preferences. Also becoming older and more aware of the world around me, I chose to go vegetarian around 10 years ago. I really started specialising in finding interesting dishes without meat or fish. Although I do eat meat when travelling or as a guest at a dinner party, I would like to go completely vegetarian. 

There are two countries that really changed my perspective on cooking - Japan and India. The dedication that the Japanese put in their food goes beyond just preparing something with care. It comes from a belief that this is the right way to approach life, and it's rooted in the culture. You can see it and taste it. I don't know if I will ever have the patience myself, maybe one day.

And in India especially the Area Kerala, where my friend Maxi Mill has a family house. I learned the basics of making Indian curry. I love the mixture of intense flavours, it's fulfilling. Especially for vegetarian food, this was a big eye opener.

When I became a father about a year ago I think the cooking thing really went next level because now it's my favourite thing to do when I'm home, as well as making music. It's actually pretty hard to get my own own space in the kitchen because my girlfriend is an amazing chef. 

Also my friend San Proper was and still is a big influence on making crazy combos of styles. He really showed me how to freestyle in the kitchen with a few basics.

Do you think you can draw parallels between your relationship with food and your relationship with music? 

Absolutely, it's both about adding ingredients that eventually create something new. It's about experimenting.

Another thing I've been working on at home, is a kitchen garden. I think that I love working in the garden so much because it kind of balances out the fast pace of DJ life. I can be quite restless after touring. But you can't hurry up the plants, and it takes dedication to maintain the garden. 

What is the best soundtrack to accompany a BBQ?

For me that would be Donuts by J Dilla. Or any Steely Dan album.


Your ultimate BBQ recipe?

A nice and easy BBQ recipe is green asparagus with an orange sesame dressing.

Use about 2.5 kg of green asparagus

6 strings of spring onion

4 oranges

Six gloves of garlic

Sesame oil

Olive oil

Sesame seeds

Salt and pepper

Cooking instructions

Roast green asparagus on the BBQ with olive oil and salt and pepper

Meanwhile prepare a dressing to pore over the roasted asparagus using chopped garlic, olive oil, salt pepper, sesame oil, chopped spring onions orange zest, and squeezed oranges

Fry the garlic in a frying pan, add the chopped spring onions, the orange zest, sesame oil, salt, pepper and juice of the oranges, heat them up all together. 

Place the roasted asparagus in a oven dish and pore over the sauce, then sprinkle some sesame seeds