At the Grill with Ron John Sendejas
December 8, 2011
Thanks to everyone for visiting the Kingsford Facebook fan page. To celebrate the growing grilling community we’re featuring fans in different parts of the country. This week we travel to Gilroy, California to talk to Ron John Sendejas about his love of outdoor cooking.
Gilroy is known as the Garlic capital of the world. Is garlic a big part of the cooking in your area?
Everyone uses a lot of garlic. That’s signature Gilroy. It smells like garlic all the time.
Tell us about your BBQ train.
I have a custom made BBQ trailer that’s the size of a car. It looks like a steam train and has two different grills. I use it for parties and can grill for up to 150 people. Once I retire, I’m going take it on the road.
You have a full-time job AND you’re starting your own dry rub company.
It’s called RonJohn American Dry Rub BBQ. I have nine rubs so far, and I’m working on three more. I have two traditional dry rubs—one has brown sugar for beef or pork and the other has white sugar for chicken or fish. I’m Hispanic so there’s some hotter stuff—jalapeno, chipotle, Serrano chili, habanero, and one using Korean chili flakes.
How many times a week would you say you cook outdoors on average?
On average two to three times a week. I’m always experimenting with the rubs. I go to work in the afternoon, so I’ll get up at 7 am, get the grill going, do a quick BBQ and take the samples to work for the guys to give me input. The guys at work are always asking me for BBQ.
Any tips you’d like to share with the community?
Watch your temperature. Always use Kingsford charcoal because it burns the best and the longest. I’ve used other brands in the past and my BBQ never turned out that well. So I’m sold on Kingsford, and that’s all I burn on my BBQ train and at home. Prep your meat one or two days ahead of time. Take the meat out of the package and wash it. Make sure surfaces are clean and wear gloves. Trim unnecessary fat, make sure it’s thoroughly clean and wash the meat one more time. Put the dry rub on, and then one more time before grilling.
Do you have a signature dish?
For family parties, 99 percent of the time, it’s pretty much BBQ or pizza on the grill. I have two grills so I can do two large pizzas at the same time.
What’s your earliest memory surrounding barbecue and grilling?
I remember my grandmother cooking on a homemade brick barbecue in the backyard that my grandfather built for her. The BBQ chicken was to die for. She made her own sauce and it was amazing. I got close, but never could get to the recipe that she used. Eventually, I’d like to build my own brick oven in the backyard but haven’t gotten around to it.
Are there any dishes that you haven’t tried but hope to soon?
Sushi. Most sushi has raw fish or fried shrimp added to it. I would go one step further and grill the fish or shrimp to give it a smoky flavor. Dare to be different. And who says you can’t add BBQ chicken to a roll?
Thanks, Ron John. You can join the grilling conversation on the Kingsford Facebook fan page, and from time to time we’ll be asking if you’d like to be featured on Grilling.com so stay tuned!