Eat to the Beat: Jose Andres

The award-winning D.C. chef advocates caviar and oysters, discourages driving and eating, and reveals his David Bowie fantasy (which is not as dirty as we just made it read).

José Andrés is the 2011 James Beard Award-winner for the nation’s Oustanding Chef, and owner of Minibar by José Andrés in Washington, DC, The Bazaar by José Andrés in Los Angeles, and Jaleo and China Poblano in Las Vegas. Here, he serves up his thoughts on snacks, grub, and rock & roll.

What do chefs and rock stars have in common?

Your parents would not be happy if you came home and said you wanted to grow up to be a chef or a rock star.

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

I have been cooking as long I can remember, always helping my parents, the most memorable meals probably were the ones I’ve cooked for my wife when we were dating. First record might have been Supertramp’s Breakfast in America.

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

That is a tough one to answer. Does anyone over a certain age think that way about music? Especially in an age of iTunes and Pandora? The simplest things are the best to start a meal, some jamon Iberico, some caviar.

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?

Oysters, caviar, maybe something grilled, champagne is very classic. For food to be romantic it should be light. Too many times people plan a romantic meal and the food is too heavy. I guess you can also go with the classics music-wise: Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding or maybe some cool flamenco-jazz like Ojos de Brujo, Django Reinhart and Stephane Grappelli.

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

In America, diner food or roadside barbecue is the best road food but I am not a fan of eating while driving, too messy. Bruce Springsteen, Robert Johnson, Counting Crows.

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

U2: Maybe something Irish, like lamb stew.

The Beatles: Fish and chips.

Eminem: He is more of a drink, like beer in a bottle.

Counting Crows: A hamburger.

Supertramp: Breakfast of course! Olive oil pancakes with maple syrup or fried eggs and bacon.

If you had all of your favorite artists over for dinner, what would you cook?

I would cook dishes from my vintage cookbook collection. Brillat-Savarin, Escoffier, a cookbook from the court of Phillip IV of Spain, a first edition Joy of Cooking.

What makes certain music suited for cooking?

I don’t like music in the kitchen. Cooking is serious business and I need to concentrate. Sometimes my guys try to sneak music. If I like it, I might pretend I don’t notice.

What about for eating?

The right music can enhance the experience. I work with companies like Audiostiles to put together mixes for my restaurants. I even created a soundtrack for my television show.

Who is the one artist out there now that you want to see live?


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

I don’t even know the name of it! Right now I am researching and cooking a lot of American food for America Eats Tavern. America has a fascinating gastronomy! Much of it lives in small out of the way places. Probably some little place by the side of the road somewhere that serves amazing barbecue!

What is your rock & roll fantasy?

To see any artist in concert at their height, for example David Bowie back in his Ziggy Stardust days, Nirvana in the early 90s, Otis Redding.

And your food fantasy?

To meet the first guy to fry an egg. Think about how important that person is!