For more than 20 years, Marc Weiss, better known as DJ Chef — “The Chef That Rocks” — has developed a simple business recipe: “spinning the beats while cookin’ the treats.”
He continues to successfully merge his two passions — cooking and deejaying — into a unique brand of hybrid entertainer who simultaneously cooks and DJs for special events on Long Island and far beyond.
“Giving people a high-energy experience with both great food and great music just makes sense,” says Long Beach native Weiss, whose great grandfather Poppy was an inspiration and motivation throughout his life.
He says that his great grandfather opened a King Kohen [not King Kullen] in Long Beach in 1935, and that he always ran green markets.
“I would always visit the fresh fruit and vegetable market every day and Poppy would explain the benefits of each piece of produce … that would help give me the passion for food,” he recalls.
Asked about how he got started as a DJ, Weiss says when he was 15, he got his first turntables and taught himself to DJ, starting out at local house parties.
“Eventually, people wanted to pay me to do their celebrations and events,” he recalls, and then a local bar asked him to DJ weekly.
He says he was going to college when he nabbed a job with a caterer for some extra cash.
“I became a good cook, so the owner kept urging me to go to culinary school and make a career for myself,” he says.
Weiss enrolled at New York Restaurant School in New York City and “found structure and new motivation.”
He then landed a job at Time Cafe in Soho where he would “immerse” himself in the world of Manhattan fine dining, read cookbooks and food magazines, and offer to help at charity culinary events.
Weiss counts high-profile chefs such as Bobby Flay, Matthew Kenney, and John Tesar among his mentors while he worked a string of jobs at highly rated restaurants and caterers on Long Island such as Jem Caterers, George Martin, Coyote Grill, Tuscany, and Duke Falcons.
He explains that after working hard, almost 70 hours per week for nearly a decade, he started to experience burnout. So he took a job as a corporate chef with Sodexho-Marriott during the week, where he ran the food services for big companies such as Pfizer, McCann Erickson, and Cablevision. An added plus was having weekends off.
“Executives started asking me to do dinner parties at their homes and it gave me new inspiration,” he says, noting that after almost a year he realized that a key element was missing: music. That led to his development of the DJ Chef concept where he plays music while cooking.
Later, he would add cooking lessons as an ingredient, which would prove highly popular at events.
“I put together a website and within a year the Food Network called and said “This is great, we want to feature you on a new show — What’s Hot! What’s Cool! — which reveals all the latest culinary trends,” he recalls.
Following the Food Network show, Weiss embarked on a series of guest and media appearances including Party Planner with David Tutera, MTV Spring Break with Lindsay Lohan, Fuse TV, News12 Long Island, Fox 5’s Good Day New York and MSNBC Entertainment Hot List.
DJ Chef says that after fine-tuning his experience, he became highly sought-after for special birthday parties of all ages, weddings, and even bachelorette parties.
“Bachelorette parties and bridal showers are some of my most popular private events,” he says, adding that for more than a decade he’s been in the Hamptons entertaining at bachelorette parties. “One week,” he says, “I had as many as 13 parties.”
Weiss has also done his share of private chef gigs for numerous celebrities including for P. Diddy, as well as events for Jessica Alba, Christie Brinkley, Guy Fieri, and Joe Namath, among many others.
No stranger to cooking competition shows, Weiss won the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen competition and continues to travel nationwide cooking and hosting corporate events, trade shows, and a variety of food-related festivals including The Chocolate Expo on Long Island, the Food Network New York City Food & Wine Festival, The Toronto Hot and Spicy Food Festival, World Food Championships Las Vegas, Philly Cooks, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and many others.
Known for updating classic dishes with a modern, creative, and often healthier twist, DJ Chef can cater his menu to almost any preference. Some of his signature and crowd-pleasing dishes include fish tacos, crab cakes and eggs Benedict.
“But,” he says, “I’ll make whatever you want, from quesadillas and pastas to a variety of chicken and beef dishes.” In fact, some of DJ Chef’s rave reviews have praised his quesadillas as “among the best” they’ve ever had.
On the DJ side of events, Weiss says that when selecting songs, he “reads the crowd” and plays music appropriate for the guests, spinning newer tracks for younger groups and classic hits for others. He adds that while he has his own playlist, he’s always open to what people want to hear.
DJ Chef also gives back to the community by working with various charity organizations and community events. He is on the board of the Marty Lyons Foundation and performs at their annual Celebrity Golf Classic that funds wishes for terminally ill children.
Weiss says, “You can’t always take, take, take, you have to give back.”
He also performs for the New York Knicks’ John Starks Foundation, the New York Jets’ Victor Green Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Long Island Suicide Prevention Association.
On the horizon, DJ Chef is currently shooting his own television series with Bungalow Media + Entertainment.
“Stay tuned,” he says. “I’ll have more to share soon.”
For more information on booking DJ Chef, he can be reached at 516-263-CHEF or 516-263-2433, or visit djchefrocks.com.