LOS ANGELES, February 6, 2014 — Joe Doherty is best known for his vocals with the Los Angeles punk band, Jughead’s Revenge. What some might not know about him is that he can smoke a mean brisket, among other meats. Wells On Music caught up with pit master Joe Doherty at Smoke City Market, where you can find Joe on most weekdays and nights.
Kevin J. Wells: When did you getting into cooking?
Joe Doherty: I started really barbequing over the last 15 years. I started working here about a year and a half ago and it definitely knocked me up to the next level.
KW: What do you think is the best thing you smoke here?
JD: The brisket. It’s the most popular item here, but it’s also my favorite, that and the pastrami. We do Texas barbeque, which is different than barbeque in the south. We serve everything without any sauce on it because we feel it tastes great without the sauce. You can do whatever, but that’s how we serve it. Texas barbeque is like that. We have sauce at the tables for you to use at your own discretion, but we encourage people to just try it and eating with their hands too. We encourage that.
We focus primarily on brisket, but we do beef ribs and pork and turkey and pulled pork. We do an array of things here, but our most popular item here is the brisket. With brisket, the cut on the cow itself was not the easiest part to cook, but German immigrants, hundreds of years ago, figured that out. They did it low and slow and it just turns out awesome and that started in Texas.
KW: Do you use the same rub for all of your meats or do you have specific rubs for specific meats?
JD: Yeah. We use the same rub on the brisket and the pulled pork and the pork ribs and the beef ribs. The pastrami is covered in mustard and black pepper and thrown in the smoker with Texas white oak for about 17 hours. It totally makes a difference. I was never a corned beef fan my whole life, but the pastrami here changed my mind about all that.
KW: Why do you only use white oak?
JD: Flavor, definitely. Some people like using hickory, some like white oak. We have the white oak brought in from Texas. It totally makes a difference. We get a lot of transplants from Texas who live out here. They come from Carpentaria, Laguna, all over the place. It’s hard to find Texas barbeque in California. A lot of people do tri-tip here. That’s California barbeque. We don’t do tri-tip, we just do brisket.
KW: Do you ever bring a grill or anything on tour with you?
JD: I wish [laughs]. Dave Grohl was in here a couple weeks ago and he was showing me this band he was producing out in Nashville right now. I forgot what they’re called, but they’re making a country album. He was showing me they have a semi-truck that they converted into a kitchen and that’s all they do; barbeque all the time. He showed me a video of a full roasted pig stuffed with sausage and bacon. Oh, it was awesome. I wish I could do something like that. I cook on tour, sometimes. When we were in Australia a couple months ago or so, I did a lot of cooking out there.
KW: When you first started, was it more trial and error?
JD: Yeah, I’d cook up stuff here and there. My girlfriend showed me a lot [laughs]. I picked up stuff from there and started doing my own thing and just going with it.
KW: What made you think that you were good enough to take your talents to the big leagues?
JD: Just from doing barbeques and parties and stuff, but then when I came to talk to the owner here, he knew how to do it from his family in Austin, Texas. So, then he taught me what they learned. When it comes to smoking, it’s a whole other thing than just throwing something on a grill. I don’t know. I’d say I was good before, but I’m a lot better now.
KW: Have you given any thought to starting a food truck?
JD: We’ve talked about it here, but it would be kind of difficult to do because when it comes to smoked meats, you just have what you have for the day and that’s it. So, I don’t know that it would be very practical. The meats take 15 to 17 hours to smoke here. I don’t know. I don’t see it being very practical.
KW: Is this your first time being a professional in the restaurant business?
JD: No, I was a baker for several years. I actually went to school for cake decorating and did that for a while, but for professional barbequing [laughs], yeah. I was just having lunch here one day and thought it would be a cool gig to just barbeque all day. I talked to the owner and they were hiring. I came back and now I just barbeque all day. I’ve had way worse jobs [laughs].
KW: Which city or country has the best food for a touring band?
JD: Well, you know, each place has its own thing. Like in Eastern Canada, for example, their poutine, which is basically just French fries with gravy and cheese curds on it, is incredible…incredibly bad for you, but they’re delicious. In Quebec, that’s where they’re the best. In Germany, like Bavaria, they have a lot of really good ham there. And, of course, in Italy, they have a number of good things there. It just depends on where you go and what you’re into. I’d say the Mexican food is better here than it is in Texas or in New Mexico, but that’s just my preference. It changes a lot in that distance. In Texas, there is barbeque all over the place.
KW: Is there a restaurant that you always look forward to when touring a certain city?
JD: Yeah, but I can’t remember the name of it right now. There is one in New Orleans where I would always go and get a fried shrimp po’ boy sandwich. I always remember it is by the place we always played. I probably should know that.
Joe Doherty can be found at Smoke City Market in Sherman Oaks on most week days. The latest info on his band, Jughead’s Revenge, can be found at their Facebook page.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News and also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music, and food. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball