Tuesday, February 26, 2008 

Taste Of Chicago w/ Rock & Roll Kitchen LIVE

After being contacted recently by the organizer of the Taste Of Atlanta about doing their event next October, I used that as motivation to cut some old video into a new piece (below).

If the piece looks dated, that's because it is; and you'll notice that shooting video in a tent pretty much always makes everything look green (yecchh). That said, I have done the Taste Of Chicago with a full band twice, with a strange bit of musical trivia: I'm probably one of the few musicians (outside of the members of the band themselves) to have featured both the original AND new drummer of Chicago rockers Styx with my cooking/music show - the late/great John Panozzo and his replacement, the very badass Todd Sucherman.

Speaking as a musician and chef, I'm not lying when I say my live show takes a LOT of work to stage. When you play with great musicians like the drummers from Styx, bassist Chip Znuff and Professor John on keys, that does take a lot of pressure off the musical side, as those guys make everything look and sound easy; but the culinary side isn't so easy, as oftentimes I'm creating recipes for a sponsor's product or service, doing shopping & prep before the show, figuring out refrigeration, water sources, overhead mirrors vs. video mag... all the while trying to keep the pacing alive to keep folks interested for the 30, 45 or 60 minutes I have to kill onstage... plus be the MC of the whole thing.

FYI, it's amazing to me how many producers and festival buyer try to get my show for no more than the "exposure" (i.e., F R E E), including the Taste Of Atlanta. And what do I tell them? "You could DIE from exposure!" Granted, if it was just me cooking without all the other stuff... maybe. But there's a few things I've learned the hard way, and some rules I won't break. First, I NEVER appear as the Rock & Roll Chef unless I'm playing guitar - when I've done it, people ask "Why are you the Rock & Roll Chef?" Good question. The second: It's damn near impossible for me to get quality musicians, equipment, etc. for free - and a hell of a lot of work. And so, even though I could be a lot busier if I broke those rules, I'd rather do nothing to do it half-assed.

On a final note, after having done the Taste Of Chicago twice, a few things started to sink in: 1. Even after doing all the work I put into it, the most amount of people who were going to see my show was well under 200; 2. Nobody I know was even the slightest bit interested in going to the very touristy/overpriced/crowded TOC (sorry, it's true); and 3. These cooking demo tents are almost NEVER set up to accommodate a full band; it gets a little tough for me to ask these great musicians to set up & play on the dirt to the side of the stage (!). And so, I passed on it the next time the TOC folks asked me to do it, and haven't pursued it since. BUT... now that live streaming video is a viable medium... who knows? Enjoy the video...

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