Chef The New Rock Star Renowned Minneapolis Chef Doug Flicker Discusses Food and Music

There are many similarities between incredible food and amazing music: the emotions, the textures, the vibes and the soul. It’s no secret that the once oft-forgotten chef is now lead singer in your favorite restaurant’s band. So to best understand this relationship between food and music, Magnolia sat down with James Beard semi-finalist and rock star chef Doug Flicker.

M: What do you see as the similarities between food and music?

Doug: Food and music are incredibly alike in their ability to get you to focus on a specific place and time. A strawberry might remind you of a summer day the same way a song you were listening to while driving around in the summertime can transport you to that moment in time. Geographically, there’s an east coast sound and west coast sound, just like there’s east coast food and west coast food. Places, because of what’s around them, musically and food-wise, resonate in a certain way with people, and stir those memories of that location.

I also think that going to a restaurant is a lot like going to a concert. You make your reservation or you buy your ticket, you have anticipation about what it’s going to be like; in the beginning you might be a little anxious, but as you get more comfortable you just enjoy it. And the dessert is like the encore. Plus, with mobile phones, people tend to capture these events in a similar sort of way. People take videos at shows just like people go crazy taking pictures of food. Some people even follow chefs the same way others follow bands.

“Cooking food is about love and sharing it's very emotional and intimate, just like music.”

M: What roll does music play in your restaurant Piccolo?

Doug: We are lucky enough to have a wait assistant who was a DJ at a local radio station. So every time the menu changes, she does a new mix for the restaurant. It really makes a difference.

M: How does that influence the eating experience?

Doug: I think it depends on the person – on how they pick up on things; a lot of it is subconscious. We play music loud enough where you can hear it but not so loud you can’t have a conversation. So in a way it’s just a background note, but it is a detail, and all details are important.

M: What do you listen to in the kitchen?

Doug: Since digital music came out, we can listen to different stuff every day. Sometimes it’s just great to have a beat and some noise; sometimes it’s great to have a feeling. We can even manipulate a feeling for the day; like if we’re busy, and everyone needs to work a little faster, it’s easy to put something on that’s higher energy.

M: Wine pairings are popular, is there certain music that goes well with certain wines or foods?

Doug: I think that comes down to personal preference. There’s no perfect way to put a dish together, there are nuances. And wine pairings and food pairings are kind of the same way; there really are, in my opinion, no perfect food and wine pairings. Cooking food is about love and sharing that, it’s very emotional and intimate, just like music. I spend a ton of time figuring out ways to manipulate food, but at the end of the day, it’s just food. What’s important is the memory you have of it, not the food itself. I want the food to have a lasting memory, visually, texturally, with smells—and music helps to complete all of those senses.

Create your own food memory

If food truly is like music, then the concert that Doug creates in his restaurant is a symphony for all your senses. Welcome to his 40-seat concert hall, and dig into the experience that this rock star chef has waiting for you.

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