Interview with Jonathan Van Sleet of MexiQ

Chef Jonathan Van Sleet

Jonathan Van Sleet
Executive Chef of MexiQ
3711 30th Ave, Astoria NY, 11103

Brief Bio Born and raised upstate NY, I’ve been cooking in restaurants since age 18. I came to NYC for employment opportunities and quickly landed a job in a new concept restaurant, MexiQ. Combining two of my favorite cuisines, Mexican and BBQ, with 48 draft lines of only craft beer.

Why is the pairing of food & beer important to you? Beer goes great with food. Not everyone realizes this and I would like to educate people about great beer and great food. Traditionally wine has been the dominate beverage choice to pair with food. I feel beer offers a wider range of flavor profiles and can hold up better to spicy foods. I don’t always like to drink wine, but I always like to drink beer.

What got you started on pairing food & beer? I’ve always liked a good beer with food, but when I landed this job at MexiQ, it was part of the concept all along. That’s when I started creating beer dinners; four course dinners paired with one brewery’s beers. This gives me an opportunity to show the different flavor profiles one brewery can offer. As I drink a beer I ask myself “what would I like to eat right now?” That is usually the beginning to a new dish.

Who are the chefs you admire? Julieta Ballesteros, Rick Bayless, Brian Molino

What are some of your favorite pairings? Smoked Seabass Flautas / Ommegang BPA; Churros with Blueberry Honey Sauce / Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’; Honey Lavender Cheesecake / Brooklyn Blast (Brewmaster Reserve)

Favorite style / beer to pair with? That’s like asking who your favorite child is.

Favorite all time beer? Ommegang Tripel Perfection

Feature dish in which you pair beer with food or use beer in preparing the dish? St. Louis Pork Ribs – hickory smoked and braised with beer and banana leaves; Cowboy Beans – Pinto beans cooked with bacon, chorizo, beef, jalapenos, onions and garlic, simmered in beer; Baja Fish Tacos – Beer battered and fried grouper served in a warm corn tortilla with guacamole and a side of grilled pineapple salsa; Beer Battered Onion Rings

Thoughts on the future of food & beer in fine dining? Beer, especially craft beers, are becoming more mainstream these days. The pairing with food is becoming more popular as well. As people are educated and exposed to great beers, the pairing with food is inevitable. At MexiQ we have 48 craft beers on draught and we offer tastings, flights, pints and growlers. Our goal is to turn people on to new beers and we offer suggested pairings for each menu item. I find that customers are very appreciative when a bartender or server guides them to a new beer that they enjoy.

Favorite restaurant in a city not your own? Ole – Boston


3# lean beef, cubed
1½# pork sholder, cubed
½# pork belly, cubed
1½oz kosher salt
½oz sugar
¼c Coleman’s dry mustard
1T fresh ground coriander
1T garlic powder
1pt beer, preferable a brown lager with medium hops

1. Grind beef and pork through small die into a bowl set in ice. Chill mixture immediately after grinding.
2. In a small mixing bowl combine all dry spices. Spread over meat and mix with hands until roughly distributed.
3. Transfer to mixer bowl and mix on medium speed with paddle attachment. Slowly pour beer in while mixer is running. Let mixer run for about 1-2 minutes until the sausage appears sticky.
4. Saute a small portion of the sausage and taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary. Thoroughly chill the sausage before you continue.
5. Stuff the sausage into hog casings. Twist into 6 inch links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.
6. Roast sausage to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F (65 degrees C). For added flavor, lightly smoke before roasting.

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