Music and food are combined all the time. You can usually hear it in the background wherever you may be dining out at the moment – it’s sometimes subtle, sometimes blaring. Rarely, if ever, are they a perfect match for each other.
Chef Nick Brune, co-owner of Local Habit in San Diego and Executive Chef of Eco Caters, has brought a new purpose to the confluence of music and food through his SoundBite series of collaborative dinners featuring local music artists and chefs. The purpose: Create meal pairings that enhance or are enhanced by the tracks of the artists in the same way that a wine pairing would do.
In his latest installment of the series, Chef Nick engaged Grampa Drew for the music. Drew’s folksy, indie style of country music, self-described as “depressing” by the artist, is more aptly described as lamenting and melancholy, conveying soulful messages that certainly have the capacity to reach the darker places of the spirit and invoke feelings of longing and loss. But, by reaching those places, don’t we also find the inspiration and the innate driving desire to make the next moment, the next day, indeed the next “bite” better than the last?
Chef Nick brought together a rock star team for this event. Chef Kurt Metzger of Kitchen 4140 in Bay Ho, where the event was also hosted and Chef Rodney LoveJones of 2Good2Be Bakery and CafÃ© in Encinitas banded with Chef Nick to pair the food with the music.
It became pretty clear, pretty quickly, that the food was going to have to be a safe haven for the evening. Grampa Drew’s music plumbed the depths of the psyche, pretty much leaving everyone feeling like they needed a hug. Enter, comfort food. The menu consisted of two courses each from Chef Nick and Chef Kurt, with Chef Rodney providing a trio of desserts. Offerings of blackened catfish and a “duck dog” from Chef Nick intermingled nicely with the duck confit and braised short rib provided by Chef Kurt. Batting cleanup, Chef Rodney competed with record heat to put out a dessert plate that was as stunning in its presentation as it was in its diversity.
Here’s the Rundown:
Ambience/Location — Kitchen 4140 has a beautiful event room decorated with
wine bottles, barrels and assorted related sundries which is perfectly suited for this kind of intimate event. Parking is easy on the street or in the adjacent lot. Beware of traffic – it’s moving fast!
Value/Price — At $55 per diner for what amounts to a mini, private concert with great food, this is a steal, especially when considering the overload of similar type dinner events in the area that have a substantially higher cost.
Food/Service — Service was fine, unobtrusive and simple. There were, periodically, empty water glasses and un-cleared plates, very much in keeping with the mood that this was more like a large dinner party than a formal event, with the obvious difference being you couldn’t exactly get up and grab your own water or take the dirty dishes to the sink yourself.
The food was good and accomplished the mission. It was definitely executed at a well-conceived level, featuring full flavor profiles, nice seasonings, interesting touches and perhaps even some experimental ingredients in an attempt to match with the nuance of the music. There were some execution issues such as dryness of a few components that might have been attributable to the warm weather.
The Takeaway: This is an event well worth experiencing, especially considering that the venue, chefs and music artists change with each installment. The value of this event, in terms of experiencing unique and creative dishes and understanding how they are affected by the accompanying art of the music, is one of the best available in San Diego. Cheers, my friends!