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What's On Your Cooking Playlist?

By Kelly |

People have a lot of opinions about the kind of music they like to listen to when they cook.  Sometimes it’s none at all, of course, as was the case with a very serious-minded French chef I once interviewed who demanded total silence in his kitchen. That approach seemed a little stuffy to me, especially when I compared it to that of the Swedish pastry team, guys who spend their time performing the most minute tasks like dipping individual leaves of mint into simple syrup and hanging them up on a makeshift clothesline; now, those dudes liked to listen to super loud, super throbbing techno music while they worked. “Music and food go together like blues and barbecue,” my friend the great food writer Colman Andrews once put it, and I think he’s right… These days in the kitchen, my iPod is as important to me as any cooking instrument. Rather than find music distracting while I cook, certain songs seem to compliment the mood that I’m in and even inspire me to get more creative, to have more fun, and not to see the act of making dinner as an arduous task. I take my food-and-cooking philosophy very seriously because the music I listen to affects my cooking rhythm, from the way I put flavors together to the speed at which I chop garlic.

I have certain songs that I like to listen to for certain tasks: Etta James (especially the song “Stop the Wedding,” which kills me every time) for baking but especially pie crusts; Journey’s “Escape” album (yeah, so what) for long-project savory things like lasagna or stew; anything Gwen Stefani for dinner on a busy weeknight….

I’m always looking for new kitchen tunes to get me going in there. So, tell me: What’s on your cooking playlist?

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19 thoughts on “What's On Your Cooking Playlist?

  1. Andrew D says:

    Good question! I’m curious to see other people’s answers here.

    When I am cooking in the kitchen, I have too much chaos with the kids to really listen to any music. When I am grilling outside, however, on a nice summer afternoon, I am generally cranking one of the classic rock stations on the XM radio. I might mix it up with some blues now and then as well. Something about outdoor, open flames and music with a driving beat really seem to go together.

  2. Jean Brown says:

    I totally agree, music is essential in my kitchen! But Journey? You must like your food extra cheesy. My favorite band to cook (and sing) along to is the Goo-Goo Dolls.

  3. anonymous says:

    Whenever I cook, I enjoy listening to classics like Frank Sinatra, Etta James…all the romantic standards. It makes cooking that much more peaceful and therapeutic.

  4. Rick Stedman says:

    I find myself wanting to hear R-E-S-P-E-C-T because it reminds me of my mother’s kitchen…

  5. Sarah says:

    I love anything by Zero-7 as it feels so smooth which is how I hope my cooking will be. I think music and food are a perfect combination and one that is a fine art to master. I love this post and look forward to reading all your posts.

  6. Jenny says:

    I am so with you on this one. I would add that having a glass of wine while you are listening and cooking is probably the best combination of senses out there. The cooking song i was really into recently was “Oxford Comma” by Vampire Weekend. Really upbeat and fun — but there’s a really fast F-bomb dropped early on. The kids will miss it if they aren’t paying attention, but I usually bang on a pot really loudly during that moment if I think they are. Love this post!

  7. Constellation says:

    For me, it is either Etta James, Santana, or June Carter Cash.

  8. Susan Davis says:

    I would have to cook to add my list, HOWEVER, I do a lot of dishes and I have favorite cds for that. After brunch I like “Celebrity Skin” by Hole turned up loud and after dinner, particularly if its late, I listen to “Oh My God Charlie Darwin” by The Low Anthem. Emptying the dishwasher requires NPR, of course.

  9. Susan Davis says:

    oh, and I’m thrilled to see Kelly blogging here. I’m a fan of her work on North Carolina Public Radio’s “The state of Things,” and her book, “Hometown Appetites.”

  10. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef says:

    I love this post! I am a U2 fan, rocking to classic Bono always creates an upbeat atmosphere for me. :)

  11. Heather says:

    Have a great 70s mix that keeps all dancing about and singing along…We are Family…Brick House…Must say Taegan prefers Blondie and the Go Gos…but we do agree on a good jazz mix! If we are in the kitchen- tunes are playing! :)

  12. ccampion says:

    I have actually been a big fan of Pandora lately–so depending on what I’m cooking or the mood I put on the Neko Case or Fleet Foxes (melancholy but lovely) or if my family gets control of the sound system it’s the Ting Tings or Michael Jackson. If I’m feeling old school I’ll put on The Band or the Graceland album. And for Sunday breakfast preparations it’s always Edith Piaf…whether my kids like it or not.

  13. [...] (Note: I listen to Mary J. Blige’s “No Drama” when I make this casserole; for whatever reason, this dish and that song go so, so well together. Don’t forget to share your own cooking playlist with me here.) [...]

  14. Kitchen Roadie says:

    Love this post as I also listen to music all the time when I cook! I actually ended up writing a cookbook around this very topic. These days I’m cooking mostly to the sounds of the ’80s. Bands such as New Order, Book of Love and Yaz are consistently on my cooking playlist!

  15. Alicia Altmueller says:

    When it is just me in the kitchen – it is all about Regina Spektor…. When I am with the kids, we play the sound track to Mamma Mia and when it is the whole family it is all Projekt Reichtum.

  16. Bonnie says:

    Danny Stiles’ Music Museum on WNYC or KCEA, which both play REAL oldies from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s–Artie Shaw, Jelly Roll Morton, Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter. I like to sing AND swing when I cook.

  17. [...] It’s no secret that I love bundt cakes, that the very cozy, snug shape of them warms my heart and makes me feel the love. These days I think bundt cakes are wrongly perceived as tacky and old-fashioned, especially in this era we’re living in when cupcakes are so aggrandized. (Nothing against cupcakes, but must we worship them so?) I’d rather have a bundt cake any day: There’s more to love, more to share, and has anyone else noticed that they’re cute, too? This cake is dark chocolate and rich, but it’s also enlivened with buttermilk and vanilla so it’s not too sweet and has a pleasant depth and tang. I would take a slice of it over a cupcake any day of the week. Note: I put on Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” an old favorite that I won’t apologize for, while I assembled this cake. If you like, share your favorite cooking music with me here. [...]

  18. [...] P.S. We listened to “Car Talk” on National Public Radio while we made this dish; if you’d like, share your favorite cooking music with me here. [...]

  19. Heidi says:

    Making the brisket and listening to Windham Hill artists.

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