I'd venture a guess that no one in this town knows the frosting tipped appeal of hand-mixing music and food more than the couple behind Turntable Kitchen. What started one year ago as a simple (yet highly aesthetically pleasing) website mashing up recipes and records, has grown into a celebrated multi-headed creative output machine, with food+music news, event sponsoring, giveaways, and the newly added physical pairings boxes – on top of the drool-inducing/stunning posts.
Last week I caught up with the duo to find out, among other queries, what ingredient you simply must have on hand – and the records every collection should include:
San Francisco Bay Guardian: For people who have never heard of Turntable Kitchen, can you give a brief rundown on how the concept came together?
Matthew Hickey: Turntable Kitchen is a website combining food and music. We do that by pairing recipes Kasey creates in the kitchen with some of my favorite albums. I try to find albums that share the same characteristics as her recipes, pairing them together the way a sommelier would pair wine with food. The idea to start the site was Kasey's, but we were pairing food and music in our own foggy Inner Sunset apartment long before we launched the site. I've always been obsessive about music and Kasey loves to cook. Part of our evening ritual involved her explaining the recipe we were going to make and me then hitting my record collection to find an album to compliment our meal.
SFBG: What is it about food and music that goes so well together?
MH: For us, a good meal is about more than just consuming food. It is about creating an experience that pleases all of your senses. We believe that the soundtrack to that meal is a hugely important element of that experience. In fact, a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychology demonstrated that when people consume wine while listening to music they perceived the wine to share the same characteristics as the music. The result is something that Kasey and I instinctively felt to be true whether drinking wine or enjoying a good meal.
SFBG: How did you come up with the Pairings Box idea?
MH: We liked the idea of sending goodies to our readers in the mail, but we weren't sure what form that would take. Whatever we did, we wanted it to stay true to the theme of our site. Speaking to the music specific elements: they just made sense for me. I love vinyl records and have an ever-growing record collection. With the ease of digital distribution, though, some of my favorite new music isn't yet available on vinyl. So the singles we release feature music that I wanted for my collection, but which didn't already exist on vinyl. I've been making mixtapes for my friends for as long as I can remember, so the digital mixtape we include gives me yet another opportunity to share music I love with our supporters.
Kasey Fleisher: I have always thought that a big barrier to cooking for many people is having a pantry. A lot of times, a recipe calls for a lot of expensive and/or hard to find ingredients and when you don't cook often, it's hard to think, "why not give this a try?" The concept of giving people three recipes and one to two premium dried ingredients gives them that nudge to experiment (and a reason to invite a few friends over to share the experience.). As for the sustainability of the Pairings Box, we think there's still room to expand, but no matter what, we want to keep it limited. So far, we've sold out of every month's box.
SFBG: What's in the November pairings box and when does it go out? Is it sold out yet?
MH: The November Pairings Box had a harvest theme. We featured three new, original recipes; a hand-numbered, limited-edition (250 copies) 7" vinyl single featuring Evenings (a.k.a. Virginia-based Nathan Broaddus); an exclusive digital mixtape; and our premium ingredient for the month was a French Grey Sea Salt and French Lavender blend.And, yes, we're all sold out.
SFBG: December pairings box orders can start coming in Nov. 15, correct?
MH: Yes, we'll start accepting new subscriptions for the December Pairings Box on November 15. We have a sign-up form on the site where you can enter your email and we'll drop you an email to notify you of when we're ready to start taking payments.
KF: We'll have additional boxes available for the holidays.
SFBG: On the site, what have been the most popular pairing(s) so far?
KF: Some of the most (recent) popular pairings have been our Multi-Grain Pumpkin Donuts, paired with St. Vincent and Creamy White Grits with Chanterelle Mushrooms paired with Iron & Wine.
SFBG: What are your own personal favorite pairing(s)?
MH: One of my recent favorite pairings has been Kasey's Fig, Mint and Honey Galette, paired with Brazilian artist Jorge Ben.
KF: One of my favorite pairings was our Wild Mushroom and Crescenza Pizza, paired with Revolving Birds. Matt loves mushrooms and pizza, and we're both really into good
cheese...I could totally see myself cozied up on rainy day making this pizza and listening to Revolving Birds...what could be better?
SFBG: What's the most important ingredient to keep in your cupboard?
KF: That is a tough question! But I'd probably have to say salt.
SFBG: What's the most important album to keep in your record collection?
MH: That is a tough one. If you are going to listen to it by yourself then you'd want your favorite album - whatever that may be. If you want versatile music that sounds great and
can be played on any occasion, I highly recommend owning a few Motown records. I don't think I've ever met anyone - young or old - who hates The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Al Green, etc.
SFBG: You both have day jobs, correct? How feasible is it for you to cook together every night?
MH: Yes, we both have day jobs that can be relatively time consuming. Nonetheless, I'd say we normally find time to cook together at least five days a week or more. No matter how tough my day was at work, when I come home and start a record, open a bottle of wine and start cooking in the kitchen with Kasey, I feel great.
KF: I agree...Even though I like my day job, there's nothing more that I love than making something with my hands after sitting in front of a computer. It's a nice break until I
have to get back on the computer to work and/or blog/edit pictures, etc.
SFBG: On an off cooking night, what's your favorite restaurant in the Bay Area?
MH: I have many favorite restaurants, but a few favorites are: Koo, NOPA, and Aziza.
KF: I would add Outerlands, Delfina Pizzeria, Lavash, and Contigo to this list.
SFBG: What are your future goals for Turntable Kitchen?
KF: Our goal is to continue producing great content, expand the food and music experiences that we're offering offline, and grow our audience organically. In our opinion, food and music are some of the best things in life, and we think we're making the two more fun and accessible to a broader range of people.