Gail Bellamy, executive food editor of Restaurant Hospitality
In a new column, Bellamy: Bean There, Ate That, Restaurant Hospitality executive food editor Gail Bellamy shares a personal take on food and the restaurant industry.
As a restaurant operator you’re not selling sounds, but have you noticed that music selections seem to be moving closer to complementing the food? Consider events such as wine and music pairings, or playlists that function like a dog whistle for a restaurant’s target demographic. Recently, Betty Hallock’s Los Angeles Times article “A little Jack White with your burger?” discussed restaurant playlists tuned to the food. Then, earlier this month, Tampa-based Bonefish Grill announced its “Taste the Notes” program running each Thursday until July 12. Customers taste the notes in half-glasses of 20 different wines (priced at $2, $3 or $4) chosen to pair guests’ palates with their taste in music. Wines on the list are described by musical genres. Examples include a folksy, floral Pinot Grigio as well as a white blend described as a bold, big band nine-grape ensemble.
In a way, this phenomenon is not surprising. Certain concepts of cuisine seem to draw on the language of music—phrases like “a vegetable medley,” “wine notes” and “harmonious flavors” come to mind. Terms like accompaniment and dolce have different meanings on menus and in music but are used in both situations.
In fact, the book The Recipe Project: A Delectable Extravaganza of Food and Music by One Ring Zero (2011, Black Balloon Publishing, $24.95) takes this idea one step further. In The Recipe Project and its accompanying music CD, the music group One Ring Zero has provided the songs, with lyrics coming from recipes by participating chefs like Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio and Michael Symon, among others. Also included are essays by food writers such as John T. Edge. In addition, the chefs discuss their restaurant playlists.
On June 10, when Chef Jam 2012 was held at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland’s top chefs offered specialties inspired by their favorite band or musician. Living in the hometown of the Cleveland Orchestra, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum has informed my musical tastes, but at this point music playlists aren’t what draw me to a restaurant. However, I find food music possibilities intriguing.
If you’re in the mood for some food music, check out the food songs online at All Mixed Up—Songs About Food. You’ll find a list of 525 food-inspired tunes, including Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp, Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie and Struttin’ with Some Barbecue by Louis Armstrong. But first, check out the harmonious flavors of recipes Restaurant Hospitality has offered from two of The Recipe Project chefs, Tom Colicchio and Michael Symon.
• Idaho potato pound cake with fresh berries and chocolate chantilly from Michael Symon
• Prosciutto di Parma with fava relish salad and pecorino from Tom Colicchio
Gail Bellamy is the executive food & beverage editor of Restaurant Hospitality. She is the author of five books and is an accomplished poet who often writes about her love of food.