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 a culinary pro to talk less about stock and more about rock. Here, we chat with Sorella chef-owner Emma Hearst.
Sorella is a rare case, in that you play the same music in the kitchen and dining room. What's a typical mix?
I have four playlists, the largest one running about four days, and it's mostly running on random. It can go from opera and classical to CCR and The Crystals. I have them broken into "early" and "late."
What's an "early" playlist like?
Usually it's mellower music. We get an older crowd earlier in the evening, so I don't want music blasting then. I like strong music and bold music, like my flavors, but music that doesn't hurt your ears. I generally have an older taste. 1968 was an awesome year. 1977, awesome year. I love The Doors, Hendrix, Joplin, Steppenwolf. Cooking to CCR. is the best-they have a good feeling to them and make me want to move fast during service.
Do you ever skip songs you don't like?
All the time. "Heroin" by The Velvet Underground is not really a Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. sort of song.
You serve food until 2 a.m. What is playing then?
Heavier, louder songs. More bands from the ‘60s. We created this place as a spot that we would want to go to after work, so we try to attract a big industry crowd. And we do, which is awesome.
Who's stopped by?
Jack Lamb quite recently. Missy Robbins. Anita Lo was in once.
What was the last album you listened to in its entirely, track-by-track?
"The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. Before service (laughing).
Thank god it was before service. I was at JoeDoe once and they were playing that album at 7 p.m. Bad move.
Yeah, that's a little much. But you've gotta listen to the whole album to do it right.
What was your first concert?
I think it was Tom Petty, who I've seen like five times. It was back in seventh grade at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which is an outdoor arena. We chilled on the grass. Smoked some weed. It was amazing. I caught his last tour both upstate and in Jersey. That was before Sorella though. No time now.
A non-music questions. What's the story with Sorella's backroom—you've got a required two-course pre-fix, which is a bit different...
It's not required! That's the thing, it's been misconstrued. I don't understand. The deal is, we offer nightly changing entrees in the back and only small plates in the front. But you can do small plates only in the back.
Photos by Jori Klein Jacobs