Ben Kaplan: When did you realize you had the magic touch in the kitchen?
Chef QBone: I grew up in a down-home style kitchen and saw my grandmother work her touch. I think I didn’t realize it was something until I started cooking for Snoop Dogg.
BK: And where was home?
QB: South Central L.A., East Side.
BK: Tell us the story of how you really began to cook.
QB: It wasn’t until I was an adult and went to prison. Truth is, I learned to cook in the culinary kitchen while I was incarcerated.
BK: Prison food has a bad rep. Is it not terrible?
QB: Naw, you make it work. The dining hall is the food that they feed you, but you go to your commissary and you get store food: Ramen noodles, box chicken, fish—like mackerel, and sardines in a can, crab in a can, tuna. You heat the noodles up, season it with salt and pepper from the kitchen, add hot sauce and tabasco and chips—like Fiesta chips or even regular Doritos.
BK: So from there, how’d you meet Snoop?
QB: This was ‘88, ‘89, I didn’t meet him until 1992.
BK: What happened?
QB: The gang truce started after the riots and Snoop Dogg had signed with Death Row Records. Suge Knight used to give away toys and turkeys in the community. There’d be 80 kids each taking home a turkey and my grandfather, he’d deep fry the turkey.
BK: Snoop was there? Helping Suge?
QB: Yeah, it was ‘92 and we became close. Not even cooking, just hanging out together.
BK: Those were big, big days for west coast rap.
QB: I didn’t really run the streets no more and I’d moved to the Bay Area. Snoop used to call me a lot and one time he just called me up: Bone, man. I need you to be my personal chef. Man, we need to go on tour.
BK: What did you say?
QB: Fuck you think I said? I said, Man, I got no problem—let’s go!
BK: What’s he eat?
QB: Hamburger Helper. Eggo waffles with scrambled eggs. Toast, jelly. Fried fish. Fried chicken. Shrimp. Crab legs.
BK: What about edibles?
QB: Back in the day my brother played in the NFL and I ate an edible and for 30 minutes, I didn’t feel it, but, before the game, I started hyperventilating, sweat was pooling on my forehead. I said, ‘What is this?’ That’s some strong brownies that my uncle made and I said, ‘Man, I ain’t never doing this no more.’
BK: I know you’re cooking at the Emerald Cup. What do people at cannabis festivals eat?
QB: Most want regular food because they already have the munchies. They’re hyped on the fact that I’m Snoop Dogg’s chef. They’re like, “Whoooooooooh.”
BK: And it all started in jail.
QB: My life turned around in jail. And when I got out, Christmas 1989, I haven’t been back since. I made a change and during the six years I did, and nine months, I said I can’t come back here again, and I never did.
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