Milwaukee is filled with amazing people. And some of those people are wild about food. 8 Questions is a series that focuses on food lovers in our midst. They aren’t chefs. They don’t work in the food industry. But, they know a thing or two about eating. And that’s part of what makes them awesome.
Most Milwaukeeans know Tarik Moody as DJ at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. Maybe you’ve caught him on in the evenings, or during Rhythm Lab Radio on Friday nights.
But, if you haven’t sat down to talk with him about food, you’re missing out. Moody is passionate about what he eats. And he’s a fantastic cook, to boot. That’s why I sat him down to chat about some of the things he loves about food here in Milwaukee.
But first, a little background:
Born in Louisville, KY, Moody has lived in numerous cities including Houston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Charleston, and Birmingham. He spent his formative years living in Atlanta, GA and then headed off to college at Howard University in Washington D.C., where he earned his degree in architecture.
Moody worked in commercial architecture for a number of years after graduation, serving as design manager for Northwest Airlines and working on the trade terminal in Detroit. He moved on to work with a Kuwait-based developer, and then for RSP Architects in Minneapolis, where he also picked up a gig volunteering for a local independent radio station. Volunteerism turned into co-hosting. And eventually Moody had his own show. In 2006, he came to Milwaukee to join the team at 88Nine.
Along the way, he ate a lot of great food.
What inspired your love of food?
When I was nine or ten my parents said "Watch your little brother, we’ll be back in 30 minutes." Since they were gone, I decided to make cookies. They were sugar cookies, and they only took about 20 minutes to make… but I burned them. And then I tried to get rid of the smell with Lysol. That didn’t work.
Seriously, though -- I loved watching my parents and my grandmother cooking. And when I was looking at college, it was either architecture or culinary school. But, at the time, architecture seemed more legitimate, more cool. After all, architects wore turtlenecks.
And back then, there was no food network. Had there been something like that, I might have ended up as a chef.
Do you cook? If so, what are some of your favorite things to make?
Korean and soul food. I’ve actually started calling it Seoul Food because it’s a fusion between my love for Korean food and my history and culture as an African American.
My best friend Ellis Lee, a Korean-American, introduced me to the cuisine of Korea. I couldn’t believe the complex flavors of kimchi, banchan and Korean BBQ and various soups and stews. I remember going to Ellis’ house once when his mom was making kimchi. And from there, I just became a kimchi addict. From there, I developed a love for Korean barbeque.
And I’m gradually getting back into my roots. There are actually three cookbooks written by African Americans that were featured recently on NPR. And I’m working my way through right now.
What’s your favorite food city?
It’s a toss up. Atlanta because of Buford Highway and the Buford market. You can get international groceries you can’t find anywhere else. And D.C. is cool. There’s no major city I look to as being the food city. They all have something I like.
Right now, Chicago’s also really interesting to me. I’m a dim sum freak. So, I start with the Phoenix Restaurant in Chicago… the barbeque… and I go there to find things I can’t find here, at H-Mart and places like that. I’m more connected to Chicago right now than to Atlanta. But, if Atlanta was closer...
Do you have a secret food spot in Milwaukee?
La Canoa. It’s one of those places where I go to eat Mexican seafood. I go there and I never see anyone I know. It’s like no one else knows about it.
There’s also Paulee’s Barbacoa. They served at Brady Street Festival and they make this amazing mustard sauce. I don’t go there very often, but I love that sauce.
Actually, barbeque is something we really don’t have here. I think it’s something you have to have in your DNA, in your culture. No one can do cheese like Wisconsin. But, we just don’t have barbeque. What’s here is edible, enjoyable, but there’s nowhere around here I would take people.
As a food lover, are there things that frustrate you about Milwaukee?
We say we are so about American food and local foods; but there are so many things you can’t get here. I can get fancy prosciutto from Italy, but I can’t get a good country ham here. I’m on a mission to find country ham. Or figure out a way to get someone to make one for me.
What’s your favorite thing about the city, food-wise?
It’s the restaurants I know I can’ get anywhere else. Like Polonez -- I mean, this is Milwaukee. The pierogies, the music. Every hipster in town should be going crazy over that place right now.
I also love the Mexican restaurants on Lincoln Avenue. And the food trucks. You can get chitterling tacos, tongue tacos. It’s a little like little Mexico.
And Real Chili - I can’t make that. It gets me every time. If there’s anywhere I would miss if I moved, it would be Real Chili. I just can’t figure out what they do to make it taste the way they do. And I’ve really tried.
Do you have a favorite dish at a restaurant in Milwaukee?
Ramen at Red Light Ramen. The broth… it’s just… I’ve never finished food so fast. I can finish the bowl in like five minutes. And it’s special. You have to wait all week long for it. You have to stay up for it. It’s an event.
Another one would be at Vanguard -- the Killig They’ve really impressed me with what they’re doing over there. Oh! And Jake’s Deli… and not the one at Grand Avenue.
Tell me about your latest food adventure:
I made cabrito. Kid goat.
Lizzie, a coworker of mine, works part-time at Afterglow Dairy Farm in Port Washington, where they raise goats. And one day she comes into the office and asks me "Do you want some goat?" And I said, "Sure."
She brings it in, and it’s a whole cooler full of goat. It was a whole half a goat! So, I called around to Bavette to see if someone there would cut it up for me. When I heard it would cost me $50 to get it butchered, I figured maybe I’d try it out for myself. I mean, I can butcher a chicken, so how much different could it be?
I put it on the kitchen table, took off my shirt so I wouldn’t get it dirty. And I did it. I’d watched some videos, but they weren’t all that helpful. So, I just dug in. I took my boning knife and I went through and butchered it.
I made the ribs first. I have a Cameron’s indoor smoker, so I brined them in a vinegar brine with sugar, and then put a rub on them and smoked them.
I brushed the legs with a mixture of butter, lime, oregano, rosemary, salt and garlic and roasted them. And then all that was really left was the backbone. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I wrapped it in aluminum foil and roasted it. And then I picked the meat off the bones.
Oh! I cooked the kidneys too -- sauteed in butter and garlic with smoked paprika and salt and finished with sherry. The flavor was good, but the texture. Eh.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.