Food News

What Dallas Chefs Listen to While They Cook

Food and music have always been inexplicably linked. Maybe it's because cooks and musicians are generally the same sorts of surly, creative types, or because everyone regardless of profession loves great music. Either way, there's a huge overlap among music nerds and people who spend their days cooking in the city's best restaurants.

In the kitchen, which is generally a loud and tense kind of place, music is occasionally a necessity. We asked some of Dallas' finest to tell us what they've got playing back in the kitchen, and some of their answers are genuinely surprising.

Danyele McPherson, Remedy Now that she's settled into her groove at her old-school soda shop Remedy, McPherson is cultivating some pretty music-snob-friendly playlists for her back-of-house staff. Aside from the obligatory rocking out to '80s classics like Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper, you'll find the kitchen staff at Remedy tuned into the Pandora stations of the xx, Phantogram, Heiroglyphics, Atmosphere and Ratatat. We always knew that McPherson was a quirky type, but who could have predicted such a well-curated and upbeat selection of indie tunes?

Blythe Beck, Kitchen LTO Beck is an unabashedly serious New Kids on the Block fangirl, and that's what you'll pretty much always hear when she's alone cooking and prepping in the kitchen. When the rest of the staff is in the house, you'll hear Tejano and rap classics playing in the background. We don't know about you, but we'd just about kill to see Blythe Beck laying down a few bars from "Gangstaz Paradise" or "California Love." Maybe that can be the theme for any of Blythe's upcoming reality TV shows.

Oliver Sitrin, Blind Butcher Sitrin might have his hands in everything in the kitchen at Blind Butcher, but he's happy to pass off DJing duties to the rest of his hard-working kitchen staff. On any given day, should you walk by to inspect that sausage-case up close, you will hear everything from hip-hop and metal to the oldies. Also a fan of gangsta rap, Sitrin says that "basically everything but country music is bumpin' in the Butcher."

Cody Sharp, The Standard Pour Sharp might be new to The Standard Pour, but he's had plenty of time in the kitchen to figure out exactly what keeps him in the zone to crank out his complicated dishes. Like most other kitchens, Sharp's staff likes to keep it real with old-school hip-hop, and mix things up occasionally with a little Daft Punk radio. Most surprisingly, Sharp has a special place in his heart for classical music, which makes him just a little bit classier than the rest of the chefs on this list.

Brian Luscher, Luscher's and The Grape Sometimes, between the busy work of making sausages and running two great restaurants, Luscher just likes a little silence. "There is so much noise in kitchens -- the timers, sautéing, pots, pans, hoods, phones and the dishwasher. I crave silence," says Luscher. When he isn't playing the quiet game, Luscher's favorite tunes depend on his mood, and there are plenty of Texas favorites on that list, like The Old 97's and Lucero. You'll also find plenty of Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and Alabama Shakes, sprinkled with a little Sam & Dave and Otis Redding. When he's feeling a little more intense, only Fugazi and The Stooges will do. "Nothing too crazy," says Luscher. "Just to keep the party going."

John Tesar, Knife & Oak Even someone as talkative as John Tesar occasionally has to pipe down and get in the zone, for which the Red Hot Chili Peppers are perfect. "Music in the kitchen makes life sexy and soulful," says Tesar, even if his own personal in-the-zone choices are less than sexy. His favorite song, "Cold Hard Sun" by Pearl Jam, is also generally in pretty heavy rotation. We're guessing that considering that both of his restaurants have open kitchens, he can't exactly go too heavy on the gangsta rap.

Brian Zenner, The Mitchell & On Premise (Formerly of Oak, Belly & Trumpet) Despite one entire kitchen shift at the now-closed Belly & Trumpet dedicated exclusively to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry -- "I do what I want with my body," he says -- Zenner is generally trying to drive his staff insane with his music choices. "Ween, all day. It drives the staff crazy, and so does Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson," says Zenner. When he isn't trying to torture the rest of the kitchen, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye are playlist standards.

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Amy McCarthy

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