It is not always obvious, but food and music are quite similar. They evoke the same visceral reactions in us, whether it is good or bad. The process of creating a great dish is like the process of creating a great song. You take sometimes disparate ingredients to create something bigger and more cohesive than just the sum of its parts. Being surprised by what you are eating is even better, much like a DJ set that goes on an unexpected, but very welcome turn.
Food shows by musicians have existed in the past, but Berlin-based Kevin Knapp is doing things a little different with house music. He is launching a new series Beats N’ Eats with Mario Münster that takes him around the world on his DJ travels to explore various food cultures and the people behind them.
The appetizer episode, which was recorded in Costa Rica earlier this year during Ocaso Underground Music Festival, features the chef Renè Deleon as well as DJs Andreas Hennberg, Sacha Robotti, and Doc Martin. Following this appetizer video, a first full episode recorded in San Francisco is due to release in September.
Start watching the video now, but you will need a snack nearby because the food looks damn good. The episode was filmed and edited by Funk Visuals Production Company.
What inspired you to make this show?
Kevin Knapp: As a DJ and music producer I’m traveling a lot and wherever I go, I want to eat and check out interesting places. I love to cook probably more than I love to eat and I’m always incredibly curious about local cuisines. My mom is an insane talent in the kitchen and having dinner parties at our home growing up in the Bay Area I was exposed to a lot of high-level cuisine at a very young age. This show is part of me wedding all the things that inspire me in life into one medium. Music, film and food are kind of the trifecta for me. Food connects us…
Mario Münster: We first met at a dinner party in 2014 in Berlin and we immediately connected over food and music and soon became friends. Beats and eats are literally part of our friendship DNA, so to say. A year ago we met to discuss options to add the food topic to Kevin’s professional life. And at one point we came to the conclusion “wait a minute, let’s document and tell all the stuff that is going on about food in Kevin’s professional life.” And ta-dah, “Beats ’N Eats“ was born.
Why did you start in Costa Rica?
Mario: Let’s call it a lucky accident. Kevin was playing at Ocaso Festival in January and late at night Berlin time he texted me that the festival is organizing a dinner event and that Renè Deleon, a former sous chef at Chicago’s Alinea (a place that was for years named one of the best restaurants in the world), will be there to cook and also a videographer was hired to document the festival and the dinner party. I guess that was maybe 24 hours before the video shoot…
Kevin: … yeah, and I was like: OK, we haven’t planned it like that but this is the moment to kick it off. So we had an intense couple of hours going back and forth on WhatsApp trying to figure out what to do with this option and we managed to nail down some talking points and possible settings for the shoot. Costa Rica was a great backdrop and we were lucky to have Gabriel Santos on board, the videographer for the festival, who did an amazing job in impromptu shooting the material. I guess we couldn’t be happier to have had this chance. Also, because some of my close DJ homies were there too, so it felt like good support.
Do you feel a connection between working in the kitchen and DJing, notably how to mix together sometimes disparate, opposing elements into something new that works really well?
Kevin: Absolutely. I often talk about my sets in terms of adding textural tracks and needing to achieve some level of balance the way a great dish does. I think the same can be said for approaching dishes in the kitchen and putting one’s self on a plate so to speak. You need some bangers, you need some bridging elements you also need some set up elements to stimulate and prepare the pallet. I was just talking about this to Jamie Rial from Audiojack this week in Ibiza, and he finished the description of how my set at Hï Ibiza with a food analogy. It was an exercise in linguistic economy. There are so many parallels I honestly don’t even know where to begin.
What type of food were you raised on and how has that impacted your taste now?
Kevin: My taste in food and my music are pretty much the same: Press the gas pedal, big flavors, big impact; it’s the punk rock in me I guess. As mentioned before: My mom loves to cook. She has a taste for Chinese among a myriad of other cuisines. So, heat, fermented beans, savory stuff, spices were always a part of my life. I grew up for a bit in Austin, Texas too so central Texas BBQ is a bit of a passion of mine as well. I’m curious, and I like my cuisine bold and nuanced for sure. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect minimalism in the kitchen :).
Mario: … speaking of minimalism….Kevin and I are coming from pretty much the opposite direction. I’m purist, minimalist, lowest intervention possible in produce etc. I was offended when Kevin talked about marinating steak when we first met. I grew up at a small German countryside village. We had our own small piece of land so we always had fruits and veggies on hand. My mom’s cuisine was inspired by her grandma - classic post World War II recipes. Simple, poor, but made with love and creativity. My father’s mom was from Bohemia, a rich cuisine with dumplings, delicious slow cooked roasts…I guess those flavors and techniques stay with you forever although my taste developed when I started traveling and moved to Berlin as a young adult.
What is your plan for the future of this show? Where would you like to see it go?
Mario: I would love to see it grow without losing its authenticity. I’ve a lot of faith in Kevin as a natural charmer, someone who is able to translate his excitement and his love for people and food to the screen. I think we live in the golden age of on screen storytelling. A show that is going to present the sweet spot where music meets food should resonate with many people. It would be amazing if people feel entertained by it. I’m usually careful in terms of expectations but somehow with Beats 'N Eats I feel comfortable to think big.
Kevin: I personally want to shine a light on food as a part of DJ culture. So I would love to see some impact in my industry. And I agree with what Mario just said. From what I see, the narrative frame of the show is unique and I would love to see it grow. For now we plan to release four shows per year. I’m just back from San Francisco, where we shot the first real episode and it’s going to be super exciting to release it. I’ve a feeling we are on to something meaningful - not only for ourselves and the people involved in project but hopefully for an audience with a big appetite for cool stories.
What are some of your favorite local cuisines around the world?
Kevin: San Francisco – Seafood and Chinese.
France – Basically everything, I’m really excited about the post traditionalist movement in French cuisine where younger chefs are using classic techniques but are doing 60 euro tasting menus with fresh ideas. Amazing stuff.
Italy, Tuscany – Until touring Tuscany I held the French in the highest regard for global refined cuisine. However, essentially every plate I during my 2 weeks in Tuscany changed that opinion but I have to say that the gelato and salami ice cream I had Chianti blew me away. It’s not supposed to work, but man, I mean, I miss it daily.
I also remember this dish in Central America with local shrimp garlic and chili, which I just, can’t stop thinking about. I love so many cuisines but those are a few of my favorites
Mario: Sicily. No doubt about it. You have Greek, Italian, and Arabic influences there and it’s surrounded by water - so you have amazing produce, breathtaking wines from the slopes of Etna volcano etc…. Give me a glass of Catarratto and red shrimp from Mazara del Vallo and I’ll die happy.
What is your favorite dish to make now?
Mario: I recently figured out that homemade Ravioli with a salmon stuffing work amazing with Vermouth, saffron, garlic, and cream sauce. Can’t stop making it these days… Actually, I want it now.
Kevin: I’m really enjoyed making brined, bone in chicken quarters with fresh herbs right now because it’s summer. They are perfect for our new grill. They eat light but are so damn tasty. I’m also itching to make grilled shrimp brochettes, with cheese jalapeno and bacon as well. Grilled oysters with truffle butter are always a crowd pleasers too. I think I know part of the menu for our next dinner party.
Mario:… see?! Perfect example of how different our taste buds are.