Make it funky: "What's on your current playlist?"

For chefs, music is often as important as the knives they cart around. While chefs tend to avoid music during restaurant service, prep is another matter. The right mix can help pump up the necessary energy when readying for a big Saturday night crowd, or soothe the soul at home, following a night of dealing with a demanding clientele or moody kitchen staff. For some, electronica does the trick, while others prefer the beat of hip hop. One thing is clear: the playlists created by these 10 chefs are as eclectic as their culinary expertise. 


Lloyd Carter, executive development chef, Jumeirah Restaurants, which opened its first noodle house menuing wholesome food and an energetic ambience in 2002 in Dubai, and is now in 19 global locations, including Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait, Riyadh, Lahore and Cyprus. 


What's on your current playlist?
"At home, on my iPod now is The Killers, Kasabian, Snow Patrol and Foo Fighters, to name a few. I don't listen to music in the kitchen, but while traveling between kitchens I will listen to a range of stuff—everything from the Rolling Stones to Faithless to Groove Armada. I would have to say my most played playlist on my iPod is one built of UK dance club classics from the late 1990s and early 2000s—"Born Slippy" by Underworld; "Rip Groove" by Double 99: and "Red Alert" by Basement Jaxx. This is the music I used to listen to when I was in the early years of my career and I have so many memories attached to them. We don't listen to music in the kitchens in Dubai. We like to keep the guys focused and it's easier to keep everyone happy in our mixed nationality teams."


Simon Stojanovic, executive chef of Altamare, a Miami Beach dining mainstay, locals' favorite and must-try destination for serious foodies and the "culinary adventurous," brings a combination of masterfully executed farm-to-table cuisine, unfussy but elegant service, and a warm, welcoming ambiance.


What's on your current playlist?
"When I'm in the kitchen, I enjoy listening to my iPod playlist of early nineties, hard house music and especially British DJ Tony De Bit; it inspires my creativity and sets the mood in a bustling kitchen."


Dan Smith, chef/co-owner, Hearty Restaurant and Hearty Boys Caterers Chicago, offers seasonal food and design evocative of the warmth and comfort of mid-century America, while contemporizing the menu for the modern palate.


What's on your current playlist?
"As any of the young guys in my kitchen will tell you, I'm tragically unhip when it comes to music. I try to be otherwise, but what's that they say about a leopard changing its spots? "That said, when I feel like torturing my kitchen staff I'll make them listen to 'Sweet Baby James," by James Taylor; "The Promise" by Tracy Chapman; and, for a little extra pain, the soundtrack to "Glee."'


Gene Kato, chef of Sumi Robata Bar, a brand new Chicago restaurant focusing on robata grilling, and featuring traditional Japanese cuisine in the "takumi" or artisan spirit in a chic, design-focused multi-concept space.


What's on your current playlist?
"My iPhone stores all my music and is now over 90% children's songs from my two-year old son. I don't have a favorite playlist, but the music I do listen to is world music like Andrea Bocelli, La India, and Eros Ramazzotti; and music from 50 Cent and Eminem, among other rappers. I do not play music in the kitchen when I am working. However, when I am at home my wife, Jessica, always has pop Latino music playing throughout the house, which I now enjoy."


Tom Pizzica, owner/chef of Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers, astreet food craze located in San Francisco, serving 100% fresh ground pork belly burgers with a variety of innovative, fresh gourmet toppings. 


What's on your current playlist?
"I actually do listen to a lot of music in the kitchen and I like it to be a balance of chill and mellow with some shots of rap and rock n' roll. It has to be like a perfectly put together dish, or in my case a perfectly executed Belly Burger! Balanced, flavorful and exciting! Here's a sample of what I'm listening to now: "Modest Mouse" by Dashboard; "Tell It to Me" by Old Crow Medicine Show; "Rally" by Phoenix; "Chin Up, Cheer Up" and "Halloween Head" by Ryan Adams; "The Wild Hunt" by The Tallest Man on Earth; "Impossible Germany" by Wilco; "Xxplosive" by Dr. Dre; "State Police" by Brothers Past; "Towers" by Bon Iver; "Get It Out" by Blind Pilot; "Love Like The Movies " by Avett Brothers; and "Joeline " and "Winter War Games" by American Babies."


Michael Holleman. director of culinary developmentof Indian Harvest, a provider of rice and rice blends, exotic grains and legumes to top chefs and restaurants  based in Bemidji, Minnesota.


What's on your current playlist?
""El Cerrito Place" by Kenny Chesney; "Springsteen" by Eric Church; "Dirt Road Anthem" (Remix) by Jason Aldean featuring Ludacris; "Photograph" by Daughtry featuring Santana; and "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna."


Christain Regano, executive chef for New York Central, located in the Grand Hyatt, N.Y., across from Grand Central Station and featuring fresh seasonal ingredients for hearty and healthy contemporary cuisine, served in an open, airy layout looking out over the Big Apple.


What's on your current playlist?
"I typically play music while I butcher in the pantry area on a daily basis. I chose music that has a tendency to help me focus, nothing too heavy, mostly with a little electronica background. I like to butcher to Radiohead, UNKLE, Battles, Portishead and lately early 90's hip hop and rap like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Craig Mack (highly underrated in my opinion). On my current playlist, my top 5 are: "Little by Little" by Radiohead; "In the Fade" by Queens of the Stone Age; "Skin Graft" by Silversun Pickups; "Six Foot Seven Foot" by Lil' Wayne; and "Dare" by Gorillaz. My favorite playlist is my run playlist. I like working out and taking care of myself, but there's a catch. I have this switch in my brain. I'm either full bore into it or the polar opposite. I put on 15 pounds since May and just recently threw the switch back. So my run playlist is filled with songs that range from high energy hardcore to motivational."


Dave Martin, chef, currently working non-stop with Kitchit.com doing private events, promoting his Flavor Quest line of books, rubs and sauces along with representing brands like Tabasco, Johnnie Walker, Nueske's and Certified Angus Beef Brand.


What's on your current playlist?
"My favorite playlist is actually on Pandora. I have a station called Groove Armada after one of my favorite DJ style groups that plays the best mix of everything, from Thievery Corporation, Groove Armada, Supreme Beings of Leisure, Kaskade, Deadmau5, Flight Facilities, Zero 7 and other great smooth electronica tracks. The beauty of this station is that it's perfect for the kitchen, home or in the restaurant because you can tune in and groove with the music or tune out since it's not over bearing or obnoxious with lots of ambient beats and limited vocals. Second in line is my Curve Station which plays harder grooves, like Bloody Valentine, Curve, Nero, Elastica, Veruca Salt, and some mellower tunes by Ivy and AraabMuzik, mixed in, which makes for a great balance based on my mode that day or evening. Either way it's a win-win for me, and although I still have hundreds of CD's and purchased songs on my iPhone and iPad and other devices. I'm more of a Pandora junkie as long as I have an Internet connection. I am a big music fan and I have music playing on my iPhone while walking thru (NY) city, while on the subways at the gym and always while prepping in my catering kitchen, since it keeps me on track and focused. In the restaurant environment, I don't play music during service as it's distracting for everyone in the kitchen and really not the place for it. During restaurant prep it's possible but everyone has different tastes, so it really depends on the crew I'm working with as to whether I will play my tunes or just keep it quiet and productive."


Fabrizio Carro, chef of Quattro Gastronomia Italiana, which delivers to Miami's Beach South Beach and new Mexico City locations the authentic cuisine, beautiful wines and enchanting décor of Northern Italy, to create an Italian trattoria that feels plucked from the streets of Alba. 


What's on your current playlist?
"Music is always on in my house. My all-time favorite play list is made for running and is a combination of Italian, international and disco music. My favorite play list right now is the one we have in Quattro and it's all Italian! We listen to music during prep, but not during service..."


Will Hewitt, executive chef of BIN 36, a destination spot bringing unpretentious and accessible wine and cheese experiences, and seasonal new American cuisine, to the forefront of Chicago.


What's on your current playlist?
"My all time favorite play list would be the album 13 Songs by Fugazi. I actually don't own an MP3 player, but on the way into work I stick with NPR (National Public Radio). We don't play music in the kitchen at BIN."


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