On my 12th birthday, I was gifted an album that had dropped a few months earlier. It was called Nevermind and would usher in a rock wave from the Pacific Northwest that still resonates to this day. Long story short, Dave Grohl has been part of my musical life since I hit puberty. Nirvana gave way to Foo Fighters for Grohl, which eventually led to the drummer-guitarist-lyricist becoming the king of rock ‘n roll and its greatest champion.
Meanwhile, I devoted my life to travel, food, booze, and writing. Turns out Grohl likes a few of these things too. So I wasn’t too shocked when — 27 years after Nevermind changed everything for me — our worlds finally collided in real life over some barbecue a few weeks back.
“You take that pulled pork,” Grohl says before we’re even introduced.”Put it on a white bun with some coleslaw and it’s the best fucking thing you’ve ever had in your entire life.”
His wrists mimic chopping meat the way a drummer rips into a jam and his eyes roll back in his head. Clearly, the man has a passion for Carolina barbecue.
As far as passion points go, pulled pork is a good one. The succulence of the low-and-slow pig, with smoke meeting salty, fatty, unctuous flesh is a delight… when done right. Standing next to Grohl’s huge, custom-made smoker — full of about 20 pork butts — it seems like he’s doing it right. The smell is downright heavenly.
Grohl had been in New York for the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame vote the day before our lunch. He hopped a plane back to Los Angeles and arrived just in time to start smoking some pork around midnight. Ten hours later, he was still in the parking lot of the Sportsmen’s Lodge in sunny Studio City, California. The moving truck Grohl and his buddies use as a base of operations is a testament to the time and effort it takes to live the low-and-slow life. An empty handle of Seagram’s vodka sits next to empty Domino’s pizza boxes and wings containers — a good night was definitely had in that parking lot as they worked the vents and stoked the fires.
All of this was part of the opening of the Valley Urban Market — a weekly food bazaar held in the parking lot of the famed hotel. The market was co-founded by Grohl’s wife, Jordyn, as a chance to celebrate craft food, artisans, and people coming together. On September 20, the day of the market’s grand opening, a few journalists got to hang with Grohl as the first set of pork butts came out of his smoker. Grohl, literally the nicest man in showbiz, started holding court immediately, rattling off stories about how he got into the barbecue scene.
“So when Nirvana became popular, the first thing I did was buy a beach house in North Carolina and I just spent years there,” he tells us like we’re all old drinking buddies. “I ate pulled pork fuckin’ from the time I was 22 ’til about 25-years-old.”
Like many of us, he’d found a food he loved and gotten hooked. But it wasn’t until an about three years ago that Grohl really got into cooking the stuff for himself. He tells the story of when he broke his leg on stage and the downtime that injury forced him to have. He’d sit in his backyard with a Big Green Egg, figuring out how to make one of his favorite meals.
“You’re basically sitting there staring at these fucking thermometers all day long,” Grohl says. “I’d just sit there for nine to 12 hours at a time just … oooommmmm … meditating and watching these temperature gauges.”