Q&A: Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains on “Chefin’” and Punk Rock Hot Sauce
By Pat McGuire; Photos by Darryl Jenifer on January 16, 2013
Washington, D.C.’s Bad Brains have been scorching eardrums for 30+ years now, so it only makes sense that they’ve moved on to torch the punk rock palate as well. Born out of their longtime love of Caribbean-soul, yard-style cooking, bassist Darryl Jenifer and guitarist Dr. Know have created a new, small-batch, scotch bonnet-based hot sauce called Fire Burn Babylon Hardcore Hot Sauce.
The band claims to have discovered the “perfect blend of heat and sweet” with its patented “Secret 77” recipe. Available at BadBrains.com, along with rare, numbered and signed prints of the bottle’s label designed by Shepard Fairey, Fire Burn is sure to make your next dinner party fit for I himself.
We asked Darryl to teach us about “chefin’” and “giving thanks” in the kitchen, the Bad Brains’ pregame meal routines and when we can expect a punk rock cookbook based on classic Bad Brains albums. “Quicheness,” anyone?
What's the secret to preparing a great feast?
Darryl Jenifer: The secret is 77! The secret to a good feast is lots of fresh organic veggies and a sweet, heaping pot of rice and peas, a tray of crispy snapper, a huge pot of lightly steamed kale, some fresh water, cold brews and high-end Tequila, good friends, roots music and an abundance of love in your heart, in the spirit of giving thanks. Yes I, we don't call it a "feast"—we call it "giving thanks."
When did you realize you had talent in the kitchen?
When my bredren Chinna asked me if my mother tasted my "yard-style cooking" then I knew my "hand" was "nice," but then again, I do caress my bass with the finesse of a watchmaker, a hippy masseuse, an arrogant sushi chef; I prepare my food as if I am a kosher sushi chef with OCD. Sometimes I feel I wash the nutrients outta my food. I like garlic stems and various seeds that most throw away. I feel the cure for most ailments is in the stems and seeds that most discard; hope I'm right because most of that stuff is bitter to the taste, but then you know the old saying, "What is sweet to the tongue can be bitter to the belly…”
Can you chef it up anywhere, or do you prefer to be on familiar turf in your home kitchen?
I am a "soldier Rastaman chef." We cook in restaurant-quality kitchens, all the way to one-pot-on-rocks-with-a-wood-fire. It's all about the love and finesse. I need fresh water, though; I can't chef without fresh water, unless we're stranded-on-a-deserted-island-type-shit, at which point I'd have to break out my roast fish and dread nut routine, Soldier- style.
What do the Bad Brains eat before and after a big show to get hype or calm down?
We usually don't eat before the show. HR likes his strawberries, Earl likes his snapper dinner, Dr. Know loves his Akee and Sal fish and before the show I love my three brews and shot of the best they got. After the show, I like Irish Moss, to maintain the strength. That is my back, nawmeen?
What is the most "punk rock" dish in your repertoire?
Lincoln Logs, a bag of Potato Stix, Diet Coke and bag of Skittles for desert. Punks like Slim Jim's as well: a warm, snapping Slim Jim, hehee.
What are your top secret ingredients to make a dish catch fire?
Fresh thyme, Scotch bonnett pepper, a few allspice seeds, fresh thinly sliced ginger, maybe a bay leaf if you know what you're really doing, but it all depends on the individual. There is a Rastaman style and there is a Bald Head style.
What's your go-to dish to impress your dinner guests?
I usually chef up some brown stew grouper, rice and gungo peas, steamed kale or collards and tahini dressing. Fresh water is vital and the key to goodness.
Is it true that you are releasing a dessert cookbook called "Pie Against Pie"? If not, you should.
Naw... “Crock For Tripe”...fiya bun! Hehehe. F