From reggaeton to Swedish death metal, music fuels the glory (and drudgery) of the chef's day-to-day existence. Kitchen Radio explores this special relationship by asking culinary pros to talk less about stock and more about rock. Here, we chat with Bobo chef Patrick Connolly and the restaurant's music-obsessed owner, Carlos Suarez.
You are probably the only restaurants in New York City to actually play vinyl during service.
Carlos Suarez: We only get 28 minutes a side, so we are constantly changing up the mix. I'm sure people can dispute this but the sound with vinyl is much richer and has a lot more personality, which fits with what we are trying to do at the restaurant.
Do you ever have to run to the player after the record has finished?
CS: It's far from a perfect system and there are times when nobody can get to it in time. We are working at getting better at it.
What have you been playing recently?
CS: Taj Mahal, The Kinks, Spoon, Van Morrison. We've listened to the entire "Joshua Tree" a few dozen times. It's hard to find some of the more contemporary stuff on vinyl. It's more expensive and a longer process than say downloading on iTunes. But we did buy a lot of records upstate for a dollar. All of our furniture came from antique stores in the Hudson Valley, so we bought a lot of music then.
What's a band that has inspired your cooking?
Patrick Connolly: The food I like to do needs to have equal parts creativity and familiarity, so there has to be a bit of nostalgia to it. One of the bands that does this for me is Wilco. They're from near my hometown, so when I listen to them I think of the Midwest.
What is your Wilco-inspired dish?
PS: I've been developing a menu specifically for the bar that takes approachable ingredients that people have grown up with. Take something as simple as ribs. We cook them slowly in duck fat and put a mixture of spices and sugar and melt it on. We also have a dish that is like tater tots and ketchup, which is something that I ate once a week for dinner. It's dauphine potatoes, which is a delicate French fried potato, with bone marrow and a ketchup spiced with coriander.
What's playing on your kitchen radio?
PS: We play music mostly during prep. Clinic is one of my favorite bands. It's really good for chores that require concentration, like cleaning a lobe of foie gras. Interpol is great for busy knife work. You let your knife go with the rhythm of the drums. Today we had Dominican maranga blasting.
Have any musicians come into the restaurant?
CS: Bono came in for dinner. That was pretty exciting.
I assume "Joshua Tree" wasn't being played...
CS: No, but I think I bowed to him when he was leaving.
Photo by Melissa Hom