August 4, 2022

The leader lives for real fire | Coeur d’Alene Press

POST FALLS — Self-proclaimed “barbecue chef” Joshua Lozano is largely self-taught. Over the past eight years, he’s explored just about everything: pastry, baking, fine dining, Mexican and Asian cuisine, farm-to-table, and even pizza.

And now? Lozano focuses on his passion for cooking over a wood fire.

Forced to come up with a different plan after a sous chef job he accepted failed due to COVID shutdowns, Lozano launched his cell phone business at an inopportune time. However, the pandemic has not shaken business.

During a season of exploring the art of baking, Lozano began experimenting with baking over high heat.

“I was doing everything on live fire,” Lozano said. “Cakes, pies, cupcakes, cookies, tres leches, wedding cakes, muffins and pastries.”

Unable to afford professional chef training but eager to learn all he could about the art of cooking, Lozano threw himself headlong into the cooking industry.

For the first three years of his career, he worked two full-time cooking jobs, one morning and one evening. Between shifts, he would go along with his wife’s demands, doing “anything she wanted from scratch,” Lozano said. She would see ideas on BuzzFeed and Lozano would create the recipes.

“The first time I baked bread was for her,” Lozano said. “It was awful. It was dark and we couldn’t even cut it.

Through trial and error, he finally mastered the skill, he said. He also spent several hours a day poring over cookbooks, soaking up as much knowledge as possible.

To find out the flavor profiles of the spices, Lozano would “try every spice in the basket.” One at a time, he ate cayenne pepper, red pepper, black pepper, mustard and absolutely “everything,” Lozano said.

“Now I know what the flavor profiles are,” Lozano said. He can taste salad dressings or sauces and easily recognize the spices and flavors they contain.

With his massive bespoke barbecue, Lozano has traveled across California, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho offering pop-up dining experiences and making temporary residences with brick-and-mortar venues.

He has received requests to visit the East Coast in the spring, he said. For now, he works with local venues and catering events. Lozano and his two partners are also studying a building for a full-time restaurant, he said.

The Lozano barbecue was specially designed for a whole pork roast. It has the capacity to feed 400 people.

“She’s a big mamma-jamma. If I flutter the pig, it can hold two,” he said.

On Sunday, Defiant BBQ will team up with Selkirk Abbey Brewery in Post Falls to host a beer pairing event, something owner Jeff Whitman has never done before.

“I sent him a cold email and he responded right away,” Lozano said. “We met the next day and hit it off immediately, personality-wise.”

The two bonded over a mutual love of beer, cigars, food and history, Lozano said. Serving a five-course dinner, each course will include a carefully matched beer to complement the flavors.

Tickets for the event are available for $99. They can be purchased on site at 6180 E. Seltice Way in Post Falls, or by phone at (208) 292-4901.

Lozano and his team have experience catering for paired events. They did a whiskey pairing menu at Sedlmayer’s Resort and Restaurant in Spirit Lake on a monthly basis last summer. Tickets for the six paired courses sold out within a week and a half, Lozano said.

“It was a wild menu,” Lozano said. “At each course, we offered something that was smoked. We had charcoal roasted oysters, elk and pheasant risotto and served buffalo steak.

Defiant BBQ will premiere at Winterfest in Moscow later this month. They’re hosting an event at the Racketeer Cigar Lounge on January 25, and in February they’ll be teaming up with Coeur d’Alene Cellars for a wine-pairing dinner.

Lozano and his wife, Jessica, have been married for 10 years and have two children, ages 4 and 2. Expecting twins in April, their household is busy, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

When Lozano quit his old job to focus on cooking, his boss congratulated him on finding his passion.

“I’m definitely pursuing it,” Lozano said. “A lot of people never take the leap.”

Customers can connect with Lozano on Facebook.