What was your first concert?
When I was 13 I went to my first two concerts back to back: Ratt and Bon Jovi on a Friday and Alice Cooper on Saturday. This was 1985 at the Providence Civic Center, and the weekend completely changed my life. Since then, I’ve seen thousands upon thousands of shows.
Which band or singer best represents your cooking style?
I take food that is approachable and recognizable in the public realm and put a little twist on it. So maybe Queens of the Stone Age? Their arrangements are a little off-kilter, but they come from a classic ‘70s, hard rock, Sabbath school.
And your Queens of the Stone Age dishes?
We came up with these soup dumplings, crispy dumplings that are filled with hot, delicious French onion soup skewered with a garlic crouton and melted Gruyere cheese. We also serve corndog crab cakes dipped in a Coney Island–style batter and fried on a stick. These are fun, irreverent dishes.
What musicians have you cooked for?
A lot, actually. Anthony Kiedis, Death Cab For Cutie, all the guys in Pearl Jam. There is this MTV pop-metal band called Avenge Sevenfold. They came in, and I ended up drinking with them all night at the bar. Their bass player actually passed out, and we ended up dressing him up in a chef coat and chef hat and took all these photos.
And I hear Michael Stipe comes in a lot.
He comes in quite a bit and usually sits on our mezzanine level, which is situated under the second-floor lounge. We have had a history of parties in the lounge, but only one brought a karaoke machine. And on that night, almost on cue as Michael Stipe is being seated, somebody decides to start singing “Man on the Moon.” I don’t think he was too thrilled to hear a jackass sing his song.
If you could hire any artist to play your restaurant’s opening party, with money not an issue, who would it be?
She is not somebody I listen to every day, and you might raise your eyebrows to this, but Juliette Lewis is so amazing live. She channels Janis Joplin and Iggy Pop.
It’s a really loaded question: What is your favorite band?
There is this heavy band from Baltimore called Clutch. They are so great! They self-produce their own records and have this rock heaviness to them, but also with this bluesy groove there. I’m also into all the Mike Patton projects like Tomahawk, Faith No More and Peeping Tom.
So what’s playing on your kitchen radio?
I make playlists for my iPod and throw it on random. The breakdown is 30 percent Latin: salsa, Gipsy Kings, the songs that my cooks listen to. And the other 70 percent is what I want to listen to. Early ‘70s bands like T.Rex, Kiss, Blondie. Some more upbeat rock like Buckcherry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse and The Killers. But I won’t put on Slayer or Cannibal Corpse. I would lose my staff with that.