Top Chef Season 12 judge Richard Blais knows better than anyone that a great meal is about so much more than what's on your plate. One important element? Music. Richard, who operates three restaurants—Juniper & Ivy, FLIP Burger Boutique and The Spence—tells The Dish how to create the ultimate dining playlist.
"A music playlist is crucial to the dining experience, whether it's home or at a restaurant." says Richard. "In some of my places we actually chart BPM's [beats per minute] and correlate them to time of day or night."
Richard suggests a perfectly planned yet seemingly random mix of music, "The key," he says, "is mashing it up and presenting music throughout many genres and artists." Displaying his eclectic musical taste Richard says, "Having a Phantogram song back into a Paul Simon track and followed by Mos Def song is a good general example."
The best dining playlist will also serve as a conversation starter, says Richard. "I also love irony, because I'm obviously a wise ass. So setting the tone early with some Huey Lewis or even some yacht rock—Christopher Cross anyone? Is a great way to start a conversation over cocktails."
Although great pairs with great food as well as any wine, Richard warns against letting the music, and not the food, be the center of attention. "In the heat of the night, or kitchen, the music shouldn't be noticed as much as it should be a natural part of the evening," he warns. "You don't want your guests putting down theirs forks to ask if that's Donna Summer playing."
But once the meal is over, all bets are off. "After dinner, that's a different story," says Richard. "Always remember the golden rule and finish with Biggie Smalls. Just have bubbles around."
Sample tunes selected by Richard in the playlist below.
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