Interview: Mr. Q’s top grilling tips for Memorial Day weekend
The long weekend that unofficially marks the start of summer
Memorial Day means barbecues, picnics, parties, family time... but it’s a holiday that’s been celebrated for around 150 years. This year, celebrations might be a little different thanks to that pesky global pandemic, but there are plenty of ways you can still have fun.
One person who knows a lot about throwing a great party – especially if it involves a grill – is Mr. Q, aka Dave Quisumbing.
Mr. Q runs a Filipino barbecue company in New Jersey that not only caters to festivals, street fairs and other events, but also makes a delicious marinade his late Mom came up with when he was a boy. We had a very socially distant sit down (all the way across the pond) with Mr. Q to chat all things barbecue, Memorial Day and marinades.
What tips would you have for anyone throwing a Memorial Day party at home?
Provide some good tunes, serve up some refreshing beverages, and feed your guests some good grilled food using Mr. Q’s Barbecue Grilling Marinade. Most importantly, stay safe.
What are your top barbecue tips?
Always marinate prior to cooking. Make sure your meats are cooked at ideal temperatures. Allow your meats to rest before serving. I like to cover my chicken and pork with foil for at least five minutes before serving. Don’t forget to brush or baste with some extra sauce. We recommend at least 3 times a side for our Mr. Q’s Marinade. A trick my late mother taught me was to add three parts of Mr. Q’s with one part lemon lime soda and brush with that.
What are the big mistakes people make while grilling?
Forgetting to marinate or season before cooking. Also, I would have to say, over or undercooking meat. Having a thermometer handy is the simplest way to have your food cooked at ideal temperatures and tasting delicious.
What would you say are the best cuts of meat for grilling?
My favorites are pork shoulder, bone or boneless. I also love boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Regular thighs with skin and bone taste way better, but skinless is healthier. Skirt steak is amazing with my sauce, but nothing beats a juicy, properly-cooked ribeye on the grill.
What secret tips do you have for getting the best meat from your butcher?
I would just be friendly. Get to know the person. Bring them a dish of some of your best cooked meals, or give them a jar of Mr. Q's to try, haha.
Direct or indirect heat?
Both may be necessary depending on the thickness of the meat. Indirect heat is better for thicker cuts, so the inside gets cooked better and more evenly. But I like to finish with direct heat always, because the charred flavor using the sauce is so important.
Gas or charcoal grill?
I prefer charcoal because of the added flavor. When it comes to taste, charcoal is the way to go. Gas grills are easier to manage and quicker to start.
What are your tips for the best marinated meat?
Make sure your meats are marinated long enough. Overnight is usually best. I also recommend brushing on the leftover marinade while cooking for added flavor.
Marinade, baste or side when it comes to sauce?
A lot of meats hold their own water, and a lot of competitor marinades are very watery or runny. When you mix them together, the flavor gets diluted. Our Mr. Q’s Barbecue Marinade is very flavor-concentrated, so when it mixes with the waters of meats, it still retains all of the flavor – so I like to use ours more as a basting or brushing sauce.
Do you have a favorite barbecue dish?
Well a lot of people confuse barbecuing with grilling. I have so many favorites, but if I had to choose one, pulled-pork would probably be my go-to. As for grilling, I would have to say meat-sticks. Our Mr. Q’s Meat Sticks is how the sauce all got started.
What would you recommend as a barbecue alternative for vegetarians/vegans?
I have fans that put Mr. Q's on tofu and vegetables all the time. They also use it as a stir fry sauce.
What are your favorite barbecue side dishes?
I love corn on the cob, bacon mac and cheese and jasmine white rice – because I’m Filipino, and it is a Filipino barbecue sauce after all.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Mom prepping meat sticks for the first food festival where the sauce started. She didn’t even make it into a sauce, she literally just threw each ingredient separately on the meat by memory.
Growing up, what was your favorite food?
Ice cream, which it still is. I loved Filipino food growing up. My mom used to own a restaurant in the Philippines. Adobo, Sinigang, Lechon, Longanisa... Like any other kid, I loved McDonald’s as well. Always loved the barbecue. When I was younger, my mom would make meat sticks for all my friends when we would have birthday pool parties all throughout elementary school. My friends would literally have contests of who could eat the most sticks. My elementary school friends still order the sauce now.
Why and how did you start your food truck business?
We sold Mom’s famous meat sticks out of a tent at street fairs and festivals and people loved them. My late mother always wanted a restaurant here in the States. So why not open a food truck? Having a food truck is pretty much like having a tiny restaurant. I know she’s watching over me and hopefully I’m making her proud.
What have you learnt from doing it?
It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s fun. I can probably write a book on it. You really have to have a passion for it. Getting Mom’s sauce out there and feeding people, which she loved doing, is all the motivation I need.
Why did you decide to make your own sauce?
In college I wanted to be a physician’s assistant. I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in exercise science and a minor in business. During my senior year I decided I wanted to be my own boss and live a dream. Mom always had this sauce so I decided to wait tables and bartend until I was able to finally afford my first production.
According to people, it tastes better than anything out there. It can literally be used on anything – people have even used it on venison, shark and beef jerky – and you can use it to cook in any way, including air fryers and crockpots. Also, it’s made from love and it’s a great way to pass on and continue her legacy.
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