Friday’s Foodie: 10 Questions with Jason Rees

With a mighty penchant for BBQ and a grill brush in hand, Toronto’s Jason Rees (aka the Pork Ninja) can’t stop himself from grilling, smoking and saucing up some great meats… only he gives most of the credit to his love of pork!

Jason has been all over this great country and the South for years, winning a number of BBQ competitions and a reputation that has earned him the greatest of all titles, the Pork Ninja.This pitmaster has made it his duty to spread the goodness of his recipes to all BBQ-loving folks through his meat-packed blog, Home of the Pork Ninjas. Although Meatless Mondays isn’t a Jason favourite, he tries to embrace the vegetarianism by putting his tastebuds to the test and also reviews a local vegan or vegetarian diner every now and then… a risky venture for a meat junkie like himself.

So what does it take to be an award-winning competitor of BBQ? Let’s find out…

When and why did you start writing about food?
Back around 2006, I decided to start writing down my recipes, and publishing the odd one that I felt like sharing on a BBQ blog, Home of the Pork Ninjas.

What do you love most about food?
Jamming it into my mouth! Also, it’s an endless journey of exploration; you will never taste everything in your lifetime. Case in point: I fed my grandparents duck for the first time this Christmas.

What do you do when you aren’t writing about or eating food?
Generally I plot my world domination along with my day job as an IT Manager.

Do you cook? If so, what’s your speciality? If not, why?
I love cooking with fire, my specialty is cooking over hardwood, aka REAL BBQ.

What’s your favourite type of food(s) and where do you go to get it? 
My first love is pork. I cook hundreds of pounds of it every year for BBQ competitions.

What’s your hidden gem? 
I can cook just about anything which seems to be a rarity in the BBQ world. I’ve met lots of award-winning BBQ chefs that can only cook BBQ.

What’s your go-to restaurant?
I don’t think i can pick just one, however, there are so many great restaurants in the city! Some of my favourites are Caplansky’s, Golden Turtle, and The Stockyards.

What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
That’s a really tough one… I think the first time I ever cooked a decent piece of meat (lamb leg) over real hardwood. It was a makeshift BBQ constructed of an old steel tire rim, an oven rack and cinder blocks, and I fueled it with an apple tree that I had chopped down. I was so scared my makeshift BBQ was going to produce an inedible meal that I cooked a “back up” lamb leg in the oven. Yet instead, the wood fired lamb leg was to this day the best meal I’ve ever cooked.

Eating the left side of the menu (all the apps) and little piggy entree at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal with a few friends rates pretty high, too.

What’s the one restaurant you have to try before you die?
Another question that’s just too hard to pick only one. I need to give the American BBQ belt another tour, with more focus on Texas, where they cook lots of beef brisket. I’m not totally convinced that beef could ever be better than pork for BBQ, but this is where i need to go to prove myself wrong.

What’s your biggest restaurant pet peeve? (play nice) 
Restaurants that don’t make their own food; they re-heat food from some food supplier that comes vac-sealed and ready for the microwave or broiler.

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