Beats and Eats and Four EL‘s Chris Lapham sit down with Kevin Templeton, the man behind the scenes at barleymash, the Gaslamp restaurant that serves food that is hormone- and antibiotic-free, sustainable and so organic it would make a hippie blush. On the flip side, this amazingly gifted chef also expresses his music artistry with morbidly angelic guitar riffs in his death-metal band Godhammered. I like food. I like music. Let’s do this.

 

Mikey Beats: Beats and Eats, it’s about music and it’s about food. You are the perfect specimen because you have your band and barleymash, and I’ve had your food and it’s fucking amazing. So you’re a catch.

 

Chris Lapham: Did you put the menu together?

Kevin Templeton: Yes. The points that we try to stress are that all of our food has alcohol in it, and it’s definitely paired for beer and bourbons. All of our meats are hormone-free, antibiotic-free. The seafood is sustainable. We are pretty high on the organic produce list. We are big into all that. Everything is made from scratch. We bake our own bread, make our own ketchup, mustard and mayo, it’s all made from scratch.

Mikey: My mouth is watering right now.

Kevin [pointing at Mikey]: He is my ultimate ego booster. Every time he comes in, he makes me feel good about myself.

Mikey: I say you are the perfect catch! You cook quality food, everything that I have had here has been amazing. You’re in a death-metal band. Actually, is it death metal or hardcore?

Kevin: This one is a death-metal band.

Mikey: You’re a good-looking guy. Are you married yet?

Kevin: No, I work too much.

Mikey: Ah, you have that passion thing going on there.

Waitress comes up and asks if we need a server. All men pause and stare. Kevin signals for a menu, and the interview goes on.

Mikey: Did I mention beautiful staff?

Kevin: Yes.

Mikey: So, you are not just all food, you’ve got looks, too. Here is something I want to mention: The water here is the best water I have ever had in my life, which is kind of funny. Why is that?

Kevin: We have our own reverse osmosis filtration system here. I think we are one of the first places in San Diego to have one. It is supposed to be more pure than any type of bottled water, and it comes straight from us right here. All of our bread is baked with it, all the water you get at the tables is super filtered clean water that is filtered right here.

Mikey: Ooo, I like that. And it is brought in a … what do you call that?

Kevin: It’s like a growler bottle.

Mikey: You’re a growler. I am not a chef, I am not Anthony Bourdain by any means, but I am fat and I love food. So I ask a lot of questions.

Laughs.

Kevin: I consider myself a fat guy diner as well. I love it. My band members are big inspirations on the type of food I cook. We all love to eat. I have been cooking professionally for 15 years, and it’s little bits and pieces and ideas of all these other restaurants I have worked in on top of crazy ideas I’ve had at my house. Chef Matt Gordon of Urban Solace was a consultant for the company [Verant Group] for a little while and a good friend of mine. He helped in the very beginning with some ideas and we brainstormed on some stuff.

Mikey: Here we are, summer is around the corner, and I am trying to eat as healthy as possible. Is there anything I can eat here?

Kevin: One of our healthiest options is our Seared Tuna Salad. It’s chili-seared albacore, so it’s totally rare and it’s in a roasted tomato balsamic vinaigrette, so it’s extremely healthy. There’s really nothing fattening on there. It’s more of a Mediterranean style instead of the usual, Asian- themed ahi salad. It’s got kalamata olives, red onions and goat cheese; the flavors go really well together.

Mikey: You sold me on that. Is there anything not so sinful on the appetizer side?

Kevin: The Citrus Vodka Ceviche is very healthy. Our ceviche, like traditional ceviche, is a local fish, usually a white fish. Lately it’s been red snapper that’s cured in lemon, orange, grapefruit and lime juice with a little bit of chills and spices. The kicker is the Skyy Citrus Vodka that is in there as well. The lemon juices technically cook the fish so there’s no heat involved. We then add a small pile of our spicy guacamole, so it’s a really healthy dish.

Mikey: Yummy! I got a food boner right now! I actually don’t drink alcohol, but I am going to eat alcohol and that is OK with me! I have no problem with that at all.

Chris: You started the menu and recommended the staff; did they give you any kind of direction or was it a blank canvas and you went for it?

Kevin: There was definitely a direction. Joey Vaught, one of the owners, as well as Dave Jones, the director of operations, were very inspirational. And they love food.

Mikey: Dave Jones definitely loves his food.

Kevin: Yeah, Dave Jones shares my values on the sustainability of things and to do it on a scale like this is a huge challenge. Everything is made here, which is insane. Joey had to have a specific type of flatbread, and then we kind of specialize in our hamburger buns and our pretzels, so we had to make our own bread.

Mikey: You have all this fantastic food and you have to do it in mass volume because you’re in the heart of the Gaslamp, the heart of San Diego. That’s incredible all in itself.

Kevin: Baking bread on a scale like this is a huge challenge here. My pastry chef Jess and her girls have to bake 250-300 hamburger buns, 300 flatbreads and 40 orders of pretzels. And on top of all that, for lunch we are doing different types of sandwiches so we are baking sourdough daily. It is a big kitchen, but for the volume we do, it is a very tiny kitchen.

Everyone orders: Mikey has the Ahi Salad and all share the ceviche, Duck Puppies and the pretzels with beer cheese soup.

Mikey: I really want to touch on your band. What’s your band’s name?

Kevin: We are called Godhammered. There are five of us in this band. Instead of calling it hard core or death metal, we are calling it Defecore.

Mikey:Deaf-core? Like “Huh? What?”

Kevin: No, it’s d-e-f-e, like shitting, basically. We tune down to a drop A, which is a very low tune. It’s a cool culmination of Crowbar meets Cannibal Corpse where it’s just slow riffs with a really cool bluesy groove to it and then straight, absolutely the most brutal death-metal vocals you’ve ever heard. Our singer is this big, hairy Mexican guy with the most demonic voice ever. We call it Defecore because it makes you wanna shit your pants because it’s so heavy. Laughs.

Mikey: Oh wow, I love it! What do you do in the band?

Kevin: I play guitar. We all played together in a band called Awaiting Samsara for about seven years. Four of the guys started a side project, so when I moved back to San Diego to do barleymash, the timing was perfect because they just lost a guitarist. We are working on our first EP with six songs on it.

Mikey: Where do you play at?

Kevin: We have some strong ties at Brick by Brick.

Mike: Jaret! I’ve known Jaret since ’98.

Kevin: That place is kind of our home; we had massive shows with Awaiting Samsara. We had a record label for a short time; they were trying to tell us to shorten our songs and be more radio friendly and dress a certain way. We are all getting older and we all have careers so we do this strictly for fun and a reason to drink beer. We are unpretentious and we don’t have expectations. We just want to go out and hurt people.

Mikey: I absolutely love eating your food and soon I will go to your show and shit myself.

Kevin: That’s the goal. [Laughs] Hitting that brown note. [More laughs] It keeps me sane in the kitchen. Most people who wouldn’t like that type of music would still enjoy our shows. In between songs we crack jokes and have a good time, it’s definitely not all serious.

As the conversation breaks for Chris and Kevin to take pictures of the food that was laid down by the waitress…

Mikey: Oh shit, should I have taken a picture of this first? Haha, my bad.

After sitting with Kevin Templeton at barleymash for about an hour and sharing old stories of Soma Live on Metro Street, I also learned that he is from San Diego, which is great considering the wonderful things he’s doing for our ears and our palates. From barleymash to Godhammered, Kevin is a true artist expressing his passion orally and aurally to the city of San Diego.

 

 

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