As the frontman for the Foo Fighters and the former drummer for Nirvana (not to mention his stints in Queens of the Stone Age, Probot, Them Crooked Vultures, and myriad other bands), Dave Grohl’s resume certainly isn’t in need of any padding. But the erstwhile rock star’s adding an unlikely new entry to his CV: assistant pitmaster for The Beached Pig, a BBQ joint Grohl was slinging meat for this past weekend at Valley Urban Market — a new outdoor food hall in Studio City (he’ll be reprising his role by the smoker next Sat, Sep 29).
Of course, there’s a bit more explanation for why Grohl, wearing glasses to make sure he could see the specifics, was checking the temperature of pork butts and brisket roasts this weekend: his wife Jordyn is one of the market’s founders, and certainly Dave’s presence — laughing, answering questions, and taking photos with anyone who asked — didn’t hurt first-weekend attendance numbers. But he could have just shown up to do that: instead, he was the first line of defense with the smoker all day, running meat to and from the food truck that was doling out pulled pork sandwiches and tacos, and even making a run to the supermarket down the street to pick up tortillas in the early afternoon.
Turns out Grohl is a bit of a BBQ nerd — and one of his favorite things to do is throw backyard smokeouts at his home in Encino.
“When Nirvana became popular, the first thing I did is I bought a beach house in North Carolina and spent years up there, and I just ate pulled pork like f—ing crazy from the time I was 22 to about 25 years old,” Grohl said in between temperature checks. When he broke his leg on tour a few years ago and was holed up at home, he really dove into making it himself.
“I became totally obsessed [with the Big Green Egg smoker] — it was therapeutic because it’s not an automatically functioning piece of cooking equipment. You have to balance the vents to make sure that you get and hold temperature for a low and slow cook. You’re just basically sitting and staring at these f—ing thermometers all day long. For me I couldn’t walk and so I would just sit there for nine or 12 hours at a time just like ‘ohmm,’ watching these temperature gauges — and I started getting good at it.”
Eventually, Grohl met up with The Beached Pig’s Billy Terrell, who became his BBQ guru; though he’s the more recognizable face, Grohl specified that Terrell was running the show at Valley Urban Market, where the team’s pulled pork was salty and smoky, and the brisket flavorful and moist.
When asked what the secret to great BBQ is, Grohl joked, “I’m not gonna f—ing tell you that” — and then immediately told us. “I think one mistake a lot of people make is that they just over season their stuff,” he said. “Pork loves salt. Salt loves pork. You get nice salt on a good piece of pork and let the smoke hit it right and then it’s f—ing delicious.”
Hardcore Foo fans may not be surprised by Grohl’s BBQ obsession after all. It was rumored that in 2002, when Foo Fighters played Coachella, Grohl took over the backstage grill and made burgers for anyone passing by, an account he confirms threefold: he did the same thing when he played the fest in later years with Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. “If you’re backstage and you start smoking something or grilling something and stinking up like a quarter mile radius with really delicious s—, every band’s gonna want some,” Grohl explains. “Like, Nick Cave will come up and ask for a burger.”
Of course, that means Grohl will likely be busting some BBQ backstage at the Foo’s upcoming Cal Jam Fest Oct 6 in San Bernardino as well — after all, just because the band’s got stuff to do doesn’t mean he can’t tend to the meat.
“We did a gig at Hyde Park in London with Motorhead,” he says. “I was literally cooking until it was time to go on and I got on stage and I smelled like barbecue. It was f—ing great — and then we finished the show and I went right back to the grill and kept going.”