By Deana Korsunsky
Tanya’s Table released its inaugural episode, marking the occasion with a conversation between Tanya Holland, and special guest, Questlove.
Questlove has made massive strides in the music industry, from his beginnings in the Philadelphia hip-hop scene to his long-standing position as musical director for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. Questlove’s band, The Roots, serves as the show’s in-house band. Questlove also boasts numerous musical roles and accolades. In addition to being a renowned drummer, DJ, producer, entrepreneur, and New York Times best-selling author, the 5-time Grammy award winning musician has produced recordings for artists such as D’Angelo, Eminem, and Jay-Z.
While Questlove boasts a large and intricate resume in the realm of music, he also has a professional and personal involvement in the food industry. Author of best-selling books Something To Food About and Mixtape Potluck Cookbook, Questlove has long-had a voice in the culinary world. He has hosted a series of Food Salons, invested in several “future of food” companies such as JUST, Inc. and Right Rice, and appeared as a Guest Judge on season 11 of Top Chef. Questlove touches on some of his culinary involvements in the first episode of Tanya’s Table, expanding upon his experiences with cooking and personal rediscovery through food.
Throughout the episode, Questlove offers his take on the food industry, but also finds overlap between that and his experiences as an artist. “I consider culinary arts, comedy art and music expression to be in line with each other,” he tells Holland. Each medium, he explains, carries an element of creativity and artistry that can reflect and define our society. “What we all share,” he says, “is that we define culture in so many ways. Music, food, and comedy. Comedy challenges it, and music [and food] dictate a lot of trends or capture what’s going on in the moment.” Like other art forms, food has the ability to record humanity’s values and choices.
Questlove elaborates on the commonalities between music and food as he compares the traditional aspect of making music with that of recreating recipes. He recalls the process of using the SP500, a specific type of drumming device, to make music in the late 80s to early 90s. “We move further away from this machinery in that time period because we don’t need it anymore with the way that tech moves,” Questlove explains. He then compares this to the development of ideas that are passed down within cooking, questioning whether there is a “language that is lost” in the process. His version of ‘70s soul food, he states, is almost certainly different from what was considered soul food in the ‘50s and what it is considered today.
Tanya’s Table’s first episode intertwines Holland’s cooking and restaurant management expertise with guest Questlove’s thoughtful insights on the music industry and his own cooking experiences. From his meetings with sushi master Jiro Ono, to his connections between making music and cooking, to his favorite hot sauce, Questlove brings unique perspectives to the table. Holland and Questlove touch on food activism, how the pandemic affected the food industry, food as a means of holding on to one’s past, and the experiences of being successful black entrepreneurs in the food and entertainment business.
Tune in every Tuesday to listen to Tanya’s Table episodes, which promise to be full of laughs, industry insights, personal stories, and various guests with fascinating takes on food and life!