When Musicians Write Cookbooks: 10 Of The Most Peculiar And Hilarious Examples Reviewed By A Food Expert

Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor has announced the forthcoming release of a new side project with friend Ithai Schori. Twenty Dinners will be released in April on the Clarkson Potter imprint and will feature over 100 “seasonally relevant, fully coursed” recipes. Oh, didn’t I mention it’s a cookbook? Yeah, it’s a cookbook.

Looks good, too, or at least, Taylor talks a good game. Any home cook who has a fire pit is right by me, though at the time of writing his publisher has yet to give much insight into the recipes themselves.

He’s not the first musician to dabble in food writing. There is, in fact, a long tradition of musicians in the kitchen, from Ted Nugent’s Kill It and Grill It to Cooking with Kenny Rogers. Here is a Top 10. Of sorts.

Coolio: Cookin’ With Coolio (2010)

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“Five star meals at a one star price” promises Coolio on the jacket of his book. Some – traditional? Boring? – cookbooks open with soups or something. Not our Coolio. Chapter 1: How to Become a Kitchen Pimp recommends such ghetto kitchen “weaponry” as “a set of sharp-ass knives” a roasting pan “big enough to fit my nephew in”, and measuring cups. Any concerns about the quality of the recipes themselves should be allayed by his pledge that his food “tastes better than yo’ mama’s nipples”. If his YouTube channel is anything to go by cooking isn’t something Coolio takes all that seriously, though as cookbooks go this one makes for entertaining reading.

Isaac Hayes: Cooking with heart and soul (2000)

The voice of South Park’s Chef, he of Chocolate Salty Balls fame, Isaac Hayes could cook up more than a tasty rhythm in real life. This soulful offering hums with the flavours of the south such as gumbo, grits, and fried green tomatoes, and is bolstered by recipes of friends from the Scientology community and beyond, including John Travolta’s hamburger royale with cheese and Lisa Marie Presley’s banana pudding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w24Xd8fVlTU

Dolly Parton: Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s

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When she gets in from her 9 to 5, Dolly Parton loves nothing more than strapping on a gingham apron and getting to it in the kitchen. As is the way with most sleb cookbooks, this one seems mostly comprised of recipes from other people, though die-hard fans will be cheered to know there are plenty of ideas from Dolly herself. Like her Hello Dolly Bars, which she introduces with a story about how once she got “so fat, when I hauled ass I had to make two trips.”

Sheryl Crow: If it Makes You Healthy

After being diagnosed with cancer Crow realised food could, in part at least, aid her recovery. Along with her chef Chuck White, she created this well-meaning cookbook. One rule of hers is “to always eat the colourful version of a vegetable”. Another is the 10 per cent “cheat zone” that allows the cook at least a little leeway should they wish to add a cheeky spoonful of sugar to a dessert instead of agave and mashed avocado. It can’t be that bad.




The Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook

Imagine going for dinner chez Ol’ Blue Eyes. The rye, the risotto, the go-on-Frank-give-us-a-songs afterwards. He was a keen, if not accomplished cook was Frank, as shown in this YouTube clip. Not sure what the golfing outfit and the Lloyd Christmas hair are about. His friends were also keen cooks, it seems, as they’ve contributed not inconsiderably to the recipes in this book. There are three versions of pasta puttanesca, as well as Sinatra’s own recipe for aubergine with parmesan. Apparently when asked how he’d come up with the recipe it, he replied: “I did it my…” (sorry).

Liberace Cooks! Recipes From His Seven Dining Rooms

What, you mean you eat dinner on whatever clean surface you have in the kitchen? Pshaw! Liberace had seven – count ‘em – dining rooms in his house, each with a different theme. And it would seem he genuinely loved to cook. Here he is in his glittery apron cooking on Letterman, like a camp Keith Floyd. Sure, egg casserole doesn’t scream yum now, but this was the 70s. At any rate, other dishes sound much more up-to-date, or at least back in fashion – brains in black butter would slot onto the menu at St. John without raising a single coiffed eyebrow; braised oxtail couldn’t be more on trend if you added sriracha. A genuine collectible.

Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney: The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

Perhaps the most successful of musician cookbooks, The Meat Free Monday Cookbook kickstarted a commendable movement to get people eating less meat. It’s a beautifully produced book with excellent photography and I’m struggling to find anything arch to say about it. There isn’t even a single recipe that uses Quorn as far as I can see. Disappointing. Oh, look at that, I managed after all.

Boy George – Karma Cookbook

Boy George loves to kick back with a tin of chickpeas and an onion. Karma Cookbook, which wins the prize for the creepiest cover in this list (up against some whipped cream-stiff competition), is a collection of macrobiotic recipes like Chickpea Corruption (curry, to you and me). He’s still at it – here he is earlier this year on the Queen Latifah show making vegan courgette pasta, complete with parmesan substitute engevita – yeast flakes. Yum.

NME

2 Chainz: Meal Time

Hip hop star 2 Chainz put out a digital cookbook along with last year’s release ‘B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME’, with a recipe pairing for each track. As you do. The recipes look pretty good, given that they were written to be cooked on a tour bus – shrimp scampi, sauteed asparagus, erm, “Me” time sauce – but more entertaining were the instructions. Take the recipe for garlicky green beans. “1) Call Fergie. Invite her to watch a movie on Netflix. Once she accepts, start making green beans.” Or his guidance for teriyaki salmon: “Cook for 3 to 4 minutes while blasting ‘Hit It With Fork’ at an ignorant level.” Gold. Winner.

Lost in the Supermarket: The Indie Rock Cookbook

A book billed as being “full of the recipes of indie rock’s elite”, Lost in the Supermarket includes dishes from the likes of Animal Collective, Antony And The Johnsons and the Mountain Goats. There’s a polite-sounding Thai sweet potato soup from Belle and Sebastian, and an intriguing Chinese spicy cold celery by Silver Jews. But it doesn’t include any instructions that even come close to 2 Chainz’ “if wearing a four-fingered ring, carefully place it on a side table before starting to cook,” so to be honest I’m not that arsed.

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