A musician talks about food and creativity with prominent American chefs. How can that not be great?
I read a lot of food books. Fiction, nonfiction – I read pretty much anything that is related to food. And yet, I’ve never found anything quite like this book. It’s about food, but it’s not. It’s about music, but it’s not. It’s mostly about creativity and the genesis of ideas. From the musical mind of Questlove comes an interesting look at why we do the things we do, through the vehicles of food and music.
I knew the name Questlove and I knew that he was that drummer guy with The Roots because I’ve seen him on TV playing with Jimmy Fallon. I didn’t realize that he’s done a bunch of other production work for big names like D’Angelo, John Mayer, and Erykah Badu or that he grew up with musical parents. I was also unaware how into the food scene he was.
Questlove began this project after eating sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. Jiro is one of the last true masters of sushi and he inspired Questlove to dig further into why chefs search for perfection. (Tune into the Popmatic Podcast on July 27 for more fun with Master Jiro. I love when things come full circle.) When Questlove returned to the states he sought out some of his chef friends and had conversations about their food and food choices.
Questlove has long enjoyed great good, so he knew quite a few of the bigger names working today. Folks like Nathan Myhrvold (father of the Modernist Cuisine empire), Ludo Lebvre, and Daniel Patterson to name a few, sat down with Questlove to ponder life. They chatted about their first restaurant experience, who cooked in their houses growing up, to what they would change in the food world today. No one talked about the best way to poach an egg. It was great
I thought this book was really beautiful in how it presented the ideas. Both fields – music and food – are highly subjective and highly critical and yet these chefs were unapologetically real. Maybe that’s why they’ve had so much success. My only complaint was that sometimes Questlove put a little too much of himself into the interview, but the chefs seem to roll with it. Also, he only talked to one female chef, but each chef mentioned the need for more diversity in high-end kitchens.
If you are looking for a great book about creativity, you have to check this one out. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for these conversations, and I guess this book is the next best thing.