All you need to know about Snacky Tunes
Discover the delicious and unexpected interplay between stove and stereo in this tasty new overview of great chefs and their love of music
What’s the hidden element at play in today’s great kitchens? Some rare, foraged herb? A fancy piece of high-tech cooking equipment? A peculiar technique, picked up at some elite catering school, or via a staging session at a multi-Michelin-starred restaurant? Perhaps not. Our latest book demonstrates just how great a role music plays in the life and work of many of the world’s best chefs.
For this insight, and much else besides, we should thank Darin and Greg Bresnitz. The twin brothers behind the hit US podcast Snacky Tunes have been bringing together musicians such as Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Erika Spring of Au Revoir Simone, with chefs, including Massimo Bottura and Dominique Crenn, for over ten years, to talk about the crossovers between the culinary and musical arts.
Darin and Greg’s new book, Snacky Tunes, keeps that conversation going, with 77 fresh new interviews with top chefs including Alex Atala, Sean Brock, Ben Shewry, Nina Compton, Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon, among many others. Subtitled Music is the Main Ingredient, Chefs and Their Music, the book features deep, candid interviews as well as bite-sized recipes and playlists.
Read these frank and revealing transcripts and you’ll discover how, concerts, clubs, vinyl and CDs, playlists, and quite a few side-hustle stints DJing and playing in bands, has informed the lives and influenced the careers of these titans of the contemporary kitchen, while accompanying recipes and playlists enable readers to recreate the experience behind their own stove.
Sean Brock, the James Beard Award-winning chef, shares his love of Southern Appalachian culture, with a list of tunes featuring Merle Haggard and The Drive-by Truckers, and a sweet recipe for low-country crab rice; Matt Abergel of Yardbird and Ronin in Hong Kong offers up quail karaage with sansho peppercorns and orange, and a flawless jazz-funk mix (Cymande, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock); while Selassie Atadika of the acclaimed Ghanaian restaurant Midunu, picks out a Pan-African playlist featuring artists such as Brenda Fassie, Daddy Lumba, Hugh Masekela and Lagbaja - the perfect accompaniment to her dish, mushrooms with wrewre sauce.
Meanwhile, in the more in-depth interviews, Snacky Tunes readers get to discover the surprisingly links between these wonderful chefs and some of the world’s great recording artists. Sean Brock explains how he came to cook for Jason Isbell’s wedding; Alex Atala recalls hanging out with Nick Cave in Brazil; Ben Shewry describes his run in with Yo La Tengo; Fabián von Hauske Valtierra tells the authors how a profile in Vogue enabled him to meet up with O'Brother, the Atlanta band he admired so much; and Pía Leon remembers Mick Jagger coming to eat at Central, the restaurant she runs with her husband Virgilio Martínez, in Lima, Peru.
Designed by the acclaimed US design studio, Omnivore, the book’s progressive text layout is remarkably easy on the eye, enabling you to follow, say, the recipe for Ben Shewry’s Bolognese of Kindness recipe, while also, allowing you to drop down, and perhaps learn how Shewry’s dad was such a hi-fi fan, he built his own speakers.
Both a practical companion, and an engrossing, curl-up read, Snacky Tunes will satisfy anyone who knows how our tastes for food and music change over time. Take, for example, Lee Tiernan of London’s Black Axe Mangal. In the book he describes his early love of heavy metal, his more recent preference for grime, and his surprising appreciation for the Spice Girls. “There have been occasions on which we have played them in the restaurant, and the whole place has gotten up and danced,” he says.
While you’re unlikely to find many other chefs in the book revealing Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby or Ginger Spice as the secret ingredient in their cookery. Nevertheless, Snacky Tunes does demonstrate just how wide and deep the appreciation for music is within highly creative kitchens across the world.
Of course, this book will appeal to culinary pros, curious to find out more about the music that motivates the chefs they admire, as well as DJs, singers and musicians, eager to see how their work has influenced a very different creative sphere. Yet the book really goes out to food and music lovers, who always knew there was common ground between aural and gastronomic arts, but weren’t quite sure how it all comes together.
Anyone with a well-stocked kitchen cupboard, a great knowledge of local restaurants, take-out places and food trucks, as well as a nice stack of records, loads of carefully curated Spotify playlists, or even a battered old boombox beside their hotplates will love the way Snacky Tunes connects these two, commonly shared cultural enthusiasms. To find out more and order your copy, go here.