Interview: Tittsworth

It's DJ Week at Food Republic, which means we are talking to some of our favorite clubland characters — but more about Serrano than Serato. And boy are they happy to tell us about their food adventures. It makes us jealous. DJ's live the life, and they eat very, very well.

As Washington D.C. DJ/producer/club owner/food fanatic Tittsworth writes us, he's surrounded by the smells of his roommate sizzling up a fresh batch of Dominican fried chicken. "She can cook her ass off." And from what we can tell, Tittsworth (Jesse to his relations) can eat his ass off.

Whether it's tearing into live octopus legs in Seoul, brewing a pot of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee or finishing the night off with a plate of smoked meat poutine in Montreal, food rules this guy's life. At least when he is not destroying it from behind the decks. But he's likely eating there too.

In terms of food, what is your favorite city to visit while on tour?

If a city has live octopus, I'm usually down with. In Tokyo you might get a glass with a chopstick in it and a small octopus might wrap itself around the stick and you eat the whole thing like a lollipop. It's very clean and very Japanese. In Seoul, the octopus are generally bigger and USUALLY cut up and served on a plate with its pieces looking like worms, crawling and sticking all over. There's a video of me going straight to the source, raw and uncut.

What are three staples in your refrigerator?

I have a set of toys that are always in my fridge: a plastic octopus with a missing limb and a rubber piece of bacon and tofu. Also, I generally have a ton of ma la on me—it's a Szechuan spice that will actually numb your mouth. Very weird feeling that accentuates salt and spice but makes water taste metallic.

Last meal you made at home was...

My roommate Izumi is Dominican and can cook her ass off. The last time she cooked for us we had rice and beans, smothered pork chops and fried plantains. She's frying chicken as we speak.

Do you have any quirky (or strange) dietary habits?

There was a point where I was a completely infatuated with sushi etiquette. I'm talking making sure the fish always touched your mouth first, using ginger to brush on soy, making sure my chopsticks rested parallel to the sushi counter, all that.

The first food to hit your lips in the morning is...

If I'm at home and on my regular steez, it might be a cup of pour-over coffee (Yigacheffe from Ethiopia today) and something simple like toast with a weird preserve (Champagne pear for example) and/or cereal with almond milk. If I'm traveling, I'll go for whatever is good, usually on the lighter side of things unless I'm splurging and getting a full force brunch or Southern breakfast.

Do you have any pre-show food rituals/habits? Food or drink requirements for shows?

I love Japanese, especially sushi and sashimi. It's not too heavy before playing and you can throw in some carbs if you're expecting it to be a big night. Whiskey and Red Bull sometimes help—but sometimes you don't need it. For festivals especially, a nice fruit and cheese spread is always nice, but I don't expect or require it.

If you're eating after 3AM, you're likely eating...

My favorite used to be eggs Norwegian, or if I'm in Montreal, maybe some smoked meat poutine. I normally try not to go too hard that late, but sometimes that pizza comes a-calling. My favorite thing is to show up to the late night spot, not order anything to make myself feel better about not eating late, but then consume just as much food (if not more) off of other people's plates. If I'm at my club (U Street Music Hall), I'm eating a pho dog for sure.

What's your favorite music to cook to, or to have in the background while eating?

I listen to a lot of bass-heavy, active music when I DJ so when I'm in chill mode, I likely go the other way—whether Jamie xx, James Blake or a pop ambient compilation. Or thugged-out rap music.

Name another DJ or musician you've worked with who is really into food.

Drop the Lime, Stretch Armstrong, Will Joy.

Can you give us a playlist of songs you cook to?