Chefs, Grub, and Rock & Roll

Top Chef champ Harold Dieterle talks Beastie Boys, red meat, and the most bastardized dish in the U.S.

Harold Dieterle, the chef/owner of Perilla and Kin Shop in New York, and the Season One champ of Top Chef, serves up his thoughts on snacks, grub and rock & roll.

What do chefs and rock stars have in common?

The hours. When you’re done working it’s after midnight, and then you go out to a dive bar until 3 or 5 in the morning, sleep til noon, and do it all over again. Although I don’t really feel comfortable sleeping till noon anymore.

First times: what’s the first record you bought? First meal you cooked?

The first album was the Beastie Boys License to Ill, I’m a huge Beasties fan. My mom would hear me singing about White Castle and sleeping with girls and smoking pot, and she was having none of it. So I had to get headphones. My first meal was when I was about 12 years old, and I helped make lasagna for my sister’s birthday. I totally burned the shit out of it.

Let’s talk starters: What’s your ultimate side one, track one, and what’s your ultimate appetizer?

Well, Grant Achatz stole “Welcome to the Jungle” when he did this, so I’ll have to go with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” For an appetizer, it could really be anything with crab in it. As long it’s not bad crab cakes. After risotto, that’s the most bastardized dish in the States.

Let’s talk seduction: what’s your go-to soundtrack for getting it on, and what’s your go-to meal for getting a lady in the mood?

Our wedding song was Ray LaMontagne’s “You are the Best Thing,” so I should probably say that. And my wife loves Italian, so I’d make a nice Bolognese, give her some flowers, and chances are that I’ll be in her good graces.

On the road: what’s ultimate road food and what are the best driving songs?

Taco trucks and reggae. Me and my buddies went on a big road trip, and had a nice reggae soundtack: Super Cat, Bob Marley, Barrington Levy.

Food and music pairings — can you pair a dish with:

Beastie Boys

I actually just had dinner with Mike D, and I’ve cooked for Ad-Rock. Right now Mike isn’t eating meat, so I’d do a really sick vegetarian tasting menu.

Guns N Roses

It would have to be something with so many carbs that they’d be so destroyed that they wouldn’t be able to fight afterwards. Just a barrage of various fried foods.

Lady Gaga

Because of her meat dress I’d probably say a prime meat tasting. But no grass fed! I know it’s better for the animals, but it tastes terrible. I mean, eating red meat isn’t good for you, so it might as well taste good at least.

Elvis Presley

Well, he loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so I’d do a riff on that using cashew butter and smashed deep-fried plantains.

Justin Bieber

I don’t know who that is. Is that like Miley Cyrus or something?

If you could invite all your favorite artists for a dinner party, who would you invite?

You know, I’d want to get Biggie and Tupac together to sort it all out over a good meal. I’d have Bob Marley there to act as a mediator, and Bruce Lee. I know he’s not a musician, but I want to make sure things don’t get out of hand.

What would you cook?

I’d make my grandma’s sauce with braised pigs’ feet. You cook it all day and the meat just melts off the bones. It’s pretty badass.

What makes certain music suited for cooking?

It can be almost anything. In my kitchens we listen to everything from reggaeton to old school alternative. Everything except country. I am not a country fan.

What about for eating?

At Kin Shop it’s mostly old-school hip-hop: Biggie, Jay Z, and my wife’s from the South, so I have a dirty South playlist as well.

And what’s the one restaurant you haven’t eaten at yet that you’re most looking forward to?

It would either be Barbacoa, the barbecue place in London that Adam Perry Lang and Jamie Oliver are opening, or Grant Achatz’s new place, Next.

What is your rock & roll fantasy?

From a personal level, it would be getting onstage with the Stones and going toe-to-toe with Mick doing the chicken dance. My chicken dance is badass.

And your food fantasy?

Probably going back in time to France and eating Escoffier’s food. We’ve all studied the book, so it would be nice to taste it from the master.

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