ZEF BBQ Turns Lemons into Barbeque with a Twist
Logan Sandoval, who grew up in Simi Valley and “barely graduated from high school by the skin of his teeth,” graduated from the Art Institute of California—Los Angeles Culinary School with a 4.2 GPA. When he was a young boy, Logan would bus tables for the sports bar where his mother worked. One night, the fry guy didn’t show up and the kitchen manager asked if Logan would like to work the station. Logan asked for more pay, the kitchen manager agreed and the “rest was history,” Logan says.
After culinary school Logan worked at a couple fine-dining restaurants throughout Los Angeles, then began working in hotels and traveling across the country. “I’ve worked in some incredible places that have molded me into the chef and the person I am today,” he says.
After losing his job due to the pandemic, Logan had to find a way to provide for himself and his family. They returned home to Simi Valley and took a hard look at the demographic. ZEF BBQ, born in Sandoval’s Chicago backyard just a year ago, found a new home and a warm welcome in Ventura County.
“Zef is a term that was born out of post-apartheid times in South Africa,” explains Logan. “To me and many others, the term means that you literally don’t care what anyone else thinks of you; like, you represent yourself in your [cooking], in how you dress, in how you think, how you speak.
ZEF BBQ at its core is traditional Central Texas barbecue, cooked low and slow with back-to-basics cuts of meat—brisket, plate ribs, pork ribs, chicken—but with a different twist on each of their dishes.
“We use influences from cuisines all around the world. Everything from Latin America, the Middle East, Pacific Island cultures and even California cuisine. We try to keep our BBQ as unique as possible to try and not be like every other BBQ joint,” says Logan. “We’ve done everything from tacos to smoked fried rice to curry and even scratch ramen. We like to keep it ‘ZEF’!”
Logan’s dishes are not the only thing that has big flavors. His personality really influences the barbecue and other dishes he creates. “I like to call it ‘sophisticated stoner food,’” he says.
ZEF BBQ takes weekly orders every Wednesday online at 10am for Saturday pickup. Items are available for purchase on Saturdays until they sell out, which happens quickly, so they encourage everyone to order ahead of time.
Follow ZEF BBQ on Instagram or Facebook @zef_hawaiian.