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Austin Chefs Play DJ

Austin chefs reveal the music that gets them cooking, from Otis Redding to Wu-Tang Clan

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Events_Soul Night_Jan 10
Otis Redding is a favorite at Lenoir. Courtesy of Peter Lucas
Wu Tang Clan
The key to getting on Bon Appetit's List of Best New Restaurants is listening to a lot of Wu-Tang Clan, just like chef Tatsu Matsumoto of Ramen Tatsu-ya. Wu-Tang/Facebook
Austin Photo Set: News_pages_acl day 2_oct 2012_neil young2
You can expect to hear Neil Young coming from behind the bar at Justine's. Photo by Jessica Pages
Events_Soul Night_Jan 10
Wu Tang Clan
Austin Photo Set: News_pages_acl day 2_oct 2012_neil young2

Editor's note: In this first installment of a multipart series, CultureMap reached out to chefs around town to find out what they listen to while they toil away in the kitchen. In this series, you will find out who hates The Beatles, who has met Jay-Z and who plays Wu-Tang to mellow out.  

It's no secret that music and cooking often go hand-in-hand. Cooking is an art that creates constant noise: The sizzle of steak frying in a cast-iron pan; the subtle, consistent tapping of a chef's knife on a worn cutting board; bubbles dancing around in a pot of boiling water; and, of course, the catchy, chef-created playlists blaring in the background.

CultureMap asked chefs around the city to share what music they prefer to play in their kitchens and in their dining rooms, what songs get them pumped up and what bands they just can't stand. Below, you will find a playlist of a few of the chefs' favorite songs so you can rock out in your own kitchen.

 

JUSTINE GILCREASE, Justine's Brasserie

CultureMap: What genre of music do you listen to while you cook?  

Justine Gilcrease: We have a turntable and listen to everything from Charles Mingus to the soundtrack of the Prokofiev opera Peter and the Wolf to Francoise Hardy. Casey Wilcox, our head chef, and all the cooks in the kitchen at the restaurant listen to everything from Public Enemy to NPR News.

CM: Who are your top five favorite artists or bands? 

JG: John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, Neil Young and Lou Reed. But these are just the top five today, and it doesn’t even amount to the cream of the top; there's too many to isolate it to just five.

CM: What type of music can't you stomach?

JG: The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch said in an interview that he likes the top 5 percent of material in any and every genre of music. There's not a single type he doesn't like. We love that idea and are open to every single thing.

JESSICA MAHER, Lenoir

CultureMap: What genre of music do you listen to while you cook? 

Jessica Maher: I listen to almost everything you can think of. The stations I find myself frequenting the most are probably Polyphonic Spree, Gorillaz, Hall & Oates, Ryan Adams, Otis Redding and Neko Case. It's all over the place.

CM: Who are your top five favorite artists or bands? 

JM: That's too tough to answer because I feel like I'm always finding new music to love. Here are five, but it's just not enough choices: Ryan Adams, the Mavericks, Jenny Lewis, White Stripes and Sam Cooke.

CM: What is your go-to song while you cook?

JM: That's tough. For awhile I really loved Gnarls Barkley's version of Gone Daddy Gone.

CM: What type of music, artists or songs do you play for your diners?

JM: We play our musical taste for the dining room too, but we try to keep it upbeat. If it gets too moody, I feel like it seeps into everyone's mood. If it gets too raucous, the tiny room can feel very claustrophobic. I've had to change it up a lot over time to find the right balance.

CM: What type of music can't you stomach?

JM: There isn't a specific genre of music that I would rule out, but anything too frenetic, like metal or punk, seriously agitates me. I know that works for some people because it has such a driving beat, but I feel like a boppy song can do the same thing for me without making me tense up. 

TATSU AIKAWA AND TAKUYA MATSUMOTO, Ramen Tatsu-Ya

CultureMap: What genre of music do you listen to while you cook?

Takuya Matsumoto: Wu-Tang Clan!

Tatsu Aikawa: If everything is on schedule, jazz or anything mellow is playing. If we're behind and rushing, Misfits and the first and third Metallica albums are blasting.

CM: Is this type of music different than the type of music you listen to when you're not cooking?

TM: Wu-Tang Clan forever!

TA: While I'm creating recipes or brainstorming ideas, I prefer silence. When not at work, I listen to everything.

CM: Who are your top five favorite artists or bands?

TM: RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck and Raekwon the Chef.

CM: What is your go-to song while you cook?

TA: "Bring da Ruckus" by Wu-Tang Clan.

TM: Too many to name.

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