LoveFoodIbiza catches the legendary Carl Cox on rare night off at his Brighton home. He is in good spirits, an evening of “crappy television with my feet up” awaits him which he doesn’t do that often…and then there is the small matter of next week’s Isle of Man TT Races where his Carl Cox Motorsport sidecar team will be racing, a huge passion for one of the world’s finest DJs. Earlier this year we were lucky enough to take a peek inside his sprawling garage at his house in Australia where his proud collection of iconic motorcycles sit – Carl is a huge fan of track days, ride schools, motorcycle tours and even jumps behind the wheel of his V8 drag cars when he can.
“It’s another side of my life that I adore. It costs me about £100,000 a year to sponsor but it’s worth every penny. With my hectic lifestyle I need my motorsport to take my mind off all the music for a while.” But we don’t want to talk oil and leather with the great man, we are here to talk food, food, glorious food…another of Carl’s great passions. The island of Ibiza became aware of his commitment to the culinary world when he bought into Sands on Playa d’en Bossa a few years ago, a venture he recently sold to concentrate on London town.
“Yeah we’d been involved in Sands for four years. When we got involved where Sands was located on the beach was great, no one really knew we were there and people had to come and find us. It was a real destination spot. But that end of Bossa started to change really quickly and we felt it wasn’t really that special down there anymore. So when the opportunity came along to move on, we took it. Myself and my manager Lynn are now involved in L’Amorosa in London with Head Chef Andy Needham who was at the excellent Zafferano…and it is going great.”
What sets Andy apart from the rest we ask him?
“I have travelled the world eating at some of the finest Italian restaurants imaginable…but Andy’s food is the best Italian experience I have ever had. I was blown away when I discovered he was from Yorkshire, not the sort of location you’d associate with the cooking that he does. But he just steps out of the norm, he is so creative and worthy of all of the plaudits and awards he receives.”
As you say, you have travelled the world eating in the finest places known to man. What though is the most unusual food Carl Cox has ever eaten?
“A couple of dishes spring to mind straight away. There was this one restaurant in Tokyo which I was taken to by the owners of a club. Now I love chicken like the next man, but this was unreal. A big plate of cold chicken feet all chopped down to the bone – the only way I can describe it is that it was like trying to eat your own knuckle. All the skin was moving around, it was crunchy…really disgusting. The other place I have to mention is a restaurant in Mexico City. Another chicken dish but this time it was covered in a chocolate sauce, a load of greens and oil. The promoter took me back to the hotel in this clapped out old Beetle after the meal and I was sick everywhere. And I mean everywhere.”
So what about some of the more delicious eateries that you enjoy? “I love going to Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt in Singapore. What a treat.
It has nine different dining experiences all under one roof ranging from Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Western culture plates. Just amazing. All open kitchens, you can see the produce all laid out, there really is nowhere like it. The other place that stands out is Mr Chow in New York. Just talking about their chicken satay dish is making me dribble! It’s almost boiled, very soft, marinated and has this pink sauce which is just gorgeous. Try those two restaurants out if you are ever in those locations, you won’t be disappointed.
Closer to home you can’t go wrong with Francos’s in Hove on the British south coast. It only seats about twenty five people, a real family vibe going on and the best fish casserole you will ever have. When I ordered it I wasn’t too sure what I was getting, then up rocks this beautiful piece of cod, fresh prawns, clams and mussels all marinated and so tasty. I can honestly say it is the purest form of eating fish you can have.”
I mention to Carl that the DJ world is full of wanna be chefs. DJ Sneak and his barbecues are stuff of legend, Dubfire’s meals could get a Michelin Star, Claude VonStroke sizzles a great sausage and Timo Maas’s Sunday roasts are nothing short of miraculous. So does Carl ever don a pinny?
“Haha of course I do. I really enjoy having some time in the kitchen, my speciality I suppose is the old fashioned roast dinner. Lamb off the bone, roast beef or a nice chicken…one of my favourite parts of the meal though is my hedgehog potatoes.”
Now, I have travelled the world interviewing the biggest DJs around about their music and favourite clubs…but being on the end of the phone talking to the great Carl Cox about how he cooks potatoes has to rank way up their in the surreal stakes. So Carl, tell us about your prickly hedgehog spuds…
“So glad you asked Dan! So, a sharp knife is obviously essential. It’s all about the deep slashes length and width ways in each potato to make the criss- cross pattern. Drizzle some oil onto the potatoes, add salt and pepper, some rosemary and then a big knob of butter.
Once in the oven the potatoes start to crunch up and the butter melts into them…it takes some time to do this which is why I suppose no one can be bothered to do it. But it is a real taste sensation.”
So there you have it. Carl Cox’s hedgehog potatoes. Amazing.
But back to the music for a moment, one of my favourite stories about Carl dates back to his childhood when he used to take his record player into school…a true sign of what was around the corner…
“It’s true. My family had all of the finest records back then and when I was about 8 my mum used to let me play all of the vinyl just to keep me quiet. So I’d play these tunes, artists like Aretha Franklin, Booker T and the M.G.’s and Elvis Presley and off it went with my mum, dad, family and friends all dancing around the living room with me sitting on the floor choosing the next record. And I caught the bug. The next thing I knew I was taking a box of 45s and my little JVC multi player into school, one of those with am AM/FM radio, a tape deck and record player all built in. The word would get around school that Carl Cox had his records in today and he would be playing some new records in the refectory that lunchtime. So there I would be, buffing out some tunes with the guys in their soul shoes doing their spins, kids scrambling through my box of tunes to see what new records I had. And then bam, the bell would ring and it was back to double maths.”
So what are the dishes from back then that spring to mind?
“Pie and mash every time. There used to be this place in Tooting Beck where all us kids used to go, it was like an eating battle between all of us, who could eat the most food. I would try and outdo my mates every time – double pie, double mash, loads of vinegar and this amazing liquor sauce that was to die for. I don’t think I ever lost a food off!”
I tell Carl that I loved DJ Sneak’s barbecue at his house in Ibiza, a really special occasion. Who else DJ wise has surprised him in the kitchen I ask him…?
“Well let me start by saying that I have never eaten ribs like Sneak made that fabulous day. The sauce was just insane, his mum was there and she was telling me it is a recipe handed down generation to generation. Incredible. But the other DJ who is fantastic is Loco Dice. He came to my house in Australia for a chill and he said ‘Carl, you eat at all the best places around the world…tonight I am going to cook you the best spaghetti bolognaise of your life’. I was like, ‘Loco, it’s only a spag bol mate, how can it be so amazing? Here is my apron, take it away’. So I was sitting there and it took him hours, all the ingredients made from scratch and yes, hats off to him, it was absolutely spectacular.”
And if he fancied a masterchef lesson with a grandmaster, who would he choose?
“There is only one guy I would like some tips from and that’s Jamie Oliver. I’ve never met him and I am sure our paths will cross one day, but I bet he is a really great guy to hang out with. I love what he does with his food, nothing too fussy, just great plates.”
Which brings us to Ibiza where Carl is returning for another monumental residency at Space with his ‘Music Is Revolution – The Next Phase’ every Tuesday night where he will be joined by the likes of Carl Craig, Marco Bailey, Eats Everything, Kerri Chandler, tINI, Sasha, Uner and Marco Carola. It is an essential part of everyone’s week. When I bumped into you at the DJ Awards last year I tell him, you told me that 2014 was without doubt your best yet at Space…what do you put that down to?
“Primarily I think that 2014 was an amazing year for music. The DJs didn’t play the same music as each other which made a nice change and the crowd on the Space dancefloor last year was so knowledgeable, which for an artist means you can never rest on your laurels. We have such a special vibe on Tuesdays and we really get behind our DJs to simply go out there and play the music they really want to play. When a virtual unknown that we have booked shows out and shines out at the club, we know we have done our job. We walked away at the end of the season knowing we were still relevant on the island and that 2015 was going to be even better.”
Where do you love to eat on the island, Ibiza has really raised it’s game this year and there are so many places to dine…
“I have to admit I am a bit sentimental when it comes to my restaurants in Ibiza, you will always find me at Sa Capella and Las Dos Lunas. Sa Capella was probably the first ‘up market’ place I went to in Ibiza some 25 years ago and I love it to this day. The same staff who always welcome you with open arms, the incredible suckling pig and the monastery setting is just unreal. As for Lunas, I used to drive past the place and see all the rich and famous going in and think to myself, ‘one day Carl, one day’. It was so out of my price range back then and it is such a treat to go to now. The flowers, the twinkly lights, the aroma, I have seen so many guys propose to their girlfriends there over the years, it really is one of the most romantic places imaginable.”
And as I leave Mr Cox in peace and an evening of relaxation, I ask him for a tune that he always associates with an Ibiza sunset…
“You’ve left with me with an easy one Dan. Masters At Work ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’. The bassline kicks in, the girls are all singing along, it’s the perfect tune to begin another balmy, crazy evening on the white isle…”
Carl Cox ‘Music Is Revolution’ – The Next Phase, every Tuesday at Space from July 7th – September 22nd
Check the promo video here…