Sound Opinions’ Eat To The Beat fundraising events are always big to-dos, and the one happening tonight at Nellcôte, Jared Van Camp’s new restaurant, is no exception. Van Camp and Girl And The Goat chef Stephanie Izard will be going head to head cooking foods inspired by The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, respectively, as Sound Opinions listeners chow down and listening to the whimsical ramblings of hosts Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis.
The event’s sold out, which is sad for all of us latecomers, but The A.V. Club talked to Van Camp and Izard about their participation in the event, as well as just what makes their food so Stones or Beatles.
The A.V. Club: Jared, your new restaurant, Nellcôte, is inspired by the mansion where The Stones recorded Exile On Main Street. I assume that’s why you landed the Rolling Stones side of the menu?
Jared Van Camp: I might be at a little bit of an advantage, naming this place Nellcôte. We’ve focused a lot of the aspects of the folklore and myths surrounding the album, and that’s inspired the restaurant. I’ve been thinking intensely about The Stones for a couple of years now, so my food is from that area where they were at that time—that sun-drenched area of the Mediterranean and French Riviera. So, for me, the Stones menu will be more inspired by the time period and that era than really getting literally into the album. I think we prefer overall, as a group, to be a little less literal and less heavy-handed.
I also wanted to do this dinner, though, because I’ve been a big fan of Sound Opinions for six or seven years. It was a flattering opportunity, and I jumped at it. I listen religiously every week, and to be able to combine two of my favorite things—music and food—is a great opportunity.
AVC: How does Nellcôte really capture that Stones era?
JVC: The myth that surrounds that album really provided the initial thought for the group with the concept, even design-wise. I think there’s been a big push in the last couple of years, or especially the last three years, away from anything very glam. Everything’s very casual and pared down. Every new restaurant has Edison bulbs and a reclaimed wood butcher block. We were guilty ourselves of that with Old Town Social, which we opened three years ago. No one’s been going back to luxury, though.
Now, I think there’s been a seismic paradigm shift in the culture of people who want that, but it’s not very attainable because of the price point. I think people want artisanal things and touches, so our idea came from that concept overall. I was joking and geeking out about the album, and one of our partners was like, “That’s it. That’s the concept.” It’s this luxurious mansion in the south of France where guys without shirts on are playing guitars. There are candles burning and wine bottles around. It’s this Bohemian aspect within glamour and opulence.
AVC: And are you definitely Stones over Beatles, then?
JVC: I love The Beatles, but there’s no question. When it comes to Beatles vs. Stones, it’s The Stones. If you put a gun to my head and say either/or, I’m going with The Stones.
JVC: A lot of it for me happens to be the time span of The Beatles’ career vs. The Stones’. The Beatles wrote some of the greatest songs ever recorded, but The Stones were grittier, nastier, and around longer. It’s about a 20-year span of good records instead of a seven-year span. I think that underbelly side is just more appealing to me.
AVC: Stephanie, why did you go with The Beatles?
Stephanie Izard: I was assigned The Beatles, really. I ended up looking at The White Album, and there are a few songs that jumped out pretty easily, though, like “Glass Onion” and “Blackbird.” We can easily make food that sounds like that. My menu’s pretty literally translated, a lot more than Jared’s.
AVC: Why did you decide to use The White Album?
SI: Jared said to use The White Album, but I liked the direction of it. We do this soup we like for events that’s a sweet onion soup with brown butter, crab, and crispy sweet onions on top. For “Back In The USSR,” I thought I could make something with Russian dressing, so we’re doing goat belly, crispy lentils, and playing it up with some kimchi on there instead of sauerkraut to go with that corned beef idea. For “Blackbird,” we just got a new smoker that we can cold smoke in, so I’m doing smoked duck breasts.
AVC: Do you think you’re more Beatles than Stones anyway?
SI: If I was stuck in a room with just one album, I’d rather it be The Beatles. I know more of the words, and I can sing along to it.
AVC: How did you end up doing the dinner? Are you a big fan of Sound Opinions?
SI: Jared asked me to help out with the dinner. He’s our new neighbor, and we’ll be the first people to cook in his new kitchen, so that’s a draw for me. It just sounded fun.
AVC: Do you have any smack talk for Jared, even though you guys are friends? Are you looking at this as a competition or as more of a harmonious menu?
SI: I think we’re trying to have fun, especially since ours is a literal translation and he’s showcasing his new menu. I think I’ll make fun of him at the dinner for that, though, about how it’s hard to find a connection to the songs in his food. I’m sure he’ll come up with some roundabout way to sell it, though.