Meet John Hurkes, Metal Chef Extraordinaire

If you frequent metal blogs, and for our sake we at Decibel sure hope you do, you might remember the Slayer pizza that attracted some notoriety last year. Hell, the “raining blood from a lacerated pie” line still cracks me up. Anyway, the mastermind behind the most metal pizza ever, Minneapolis-based Chef John Hurkes, has taken the notion of metal themed cuisine to even crazier extremes. Having teamed up with Rice and Bread magazine, he’s since put together a wickedly cool collection of dishes that draw inspiration by his favorite metal albums: a tournedo steak inspired by Destruction’s Eternal Devastation, venison heart poutine inspired by Sacrifice’s Canadian thrash classic Forward to Termination, and my own personal fave, Nuclear Assault Nachos – made with a flamethrower, I might add – that mimic the cover of 1988’s Survive album. Yikes, is anyone else hungry?

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We caught up with Chef Hurkes yesterday, who was more than glad to answer a few questions. Be sure to see more of his metal-derived “Perfect Pairings” over at Rice and Bread.

Heavy metal and cooking have been colliding more and more in the past decade, but you've taken it to an entirely new, more creative level. How did you personally get the idea to combine your love of food and music?

Chef John Hurkes: Metal is a lifestyle, so it seemed natural to combine the two together. Food and metal are two essentials of life. It's also been inspiring seeing places like Kuma's Corner in Chicago creating their metal fare and the sort of feedback it gets. It's a medium where each dish can be written like a song or lyric, so you will almost always come out with something unique.

The dishes inspired by Nuclear Assault, Sacrifice, Destruction, Down, and of course the Slayer pizza, all look incredible. Have you done any other similar ones since?

Hurkes: Not yet. However, I've got some different dishes to attack in the future with Rice and Bread Magazine. I've done a lot of thrash metal dishes and hope to hit some other metal genres soon. Maybe a delicious Spring time Deicide salad or something.

What was the trickiest one to make so far?

Hurkes: The Exodus "Blood Feast" or as I also call it, the Exodish. It was basically a bric-a-brac of metal food components and cooking technique. It was very technical, representing the complex guitar riffage and lyrical content of the album. I like to think the seared orange represents Kirk Hammet's guest guitar solo from the track "Salt the Wound." It's that California sunshine shredding over the top of the track.

How about the one you're proudest of?

Hurkes: Definitely the Slayer Pizza. I mean seriously, it was like meat, cheese, tomato sauce, and 350 stone ground communion wafers rolled into one giant communion wafer. It was finally chopped into a pentagram and covered in its own blood, a la altar wine gastrique. Pizza does not get any more metal than that. The food-cost analysis was only one soul.

Have you had a chance to serve your creations to any members of those bands yet?

Hurkes: Not yet. I've cooked for a few different bands like High on Fire and Corrosion of Conformity. I am the Chef de Partie at a gastropub in Minneapolis, MN called The Bulldog N.E. The metal food is not on the menu, however I do occasionally contribute to rotating seasonal specials. I've also worked on a few evil menus for special events. But if Slayer wants to come in and eat the unholy pizza, I’ll make it for them.

What's the one big metal-themed dish you want to create? The ultimate combination of food and your favourite band or album?

Hurkes: Black Sabbath. It goes straight to the very beginning. Just like heavy metal, the recipe will start from scratch. I've also got some other ideas like a Venom "Seven Courses in Hell" dinner with ingredients picked from the regional routing of a tour.

Will you ever compile all these creations for a book? I bet it'd go over well with metal fans and foodies alike.

Hurkes: Yes, Jason Schreurs over at Rice and Bread and I have discussed the possibility of collaborating on a book. But in the meantime, we've got a lot of great dishes planned for the website. I'm sure some day they will make a great tabletop metal food compilation!

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Thanks to Chef Hurkes, and special thanks to our own Adem Tepedelen for the tip!

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