NEW YORK (AP) — If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a dinner party hosted by Questlove, be aware that nothing has been left to chance.
The guest list has been carefully chosen, as have all the dishes. The music starts off with piano-heavy tunes and then builds as the evening goes on. The amount and quality of the booze is also carefully staged.
“I think now I have it down to a science. You have to start off mellow and go to your climax,” said Questlove. “Usually my parties start at 7 o’clock. By 10 o’clock, it’s at its height. And then when it’s filtering out around 12:30, then usually the 10 of us left go out to get pizzas and burgers.”
If you’re one of the stragglers, there’s a good chance you’ll be hanging with a celebrity. Questlove attracts an eclectic fanbase, from musicians like Q-Tip and David Byrne, to foodies like Padma Lakshmi and Eric Ripert, to actresses like Gabrielle Union and Zooey Deschanel, and artists like Tom Sachs and Dustin Yellin.
Now the drummer of the hip-hop group The Roots, as well as a DJ, a producer, author and radio host is revealing some of his secrets in his new book, “ Mixtape Potluck.” It includes crowd-pleasing recipes from more than 50 friends and advice on how to organize the music, food and guests.
“For me, the whole goal of ‘Mixtape Potluck’ is to serve as a guide to have better social functions. Oftentimes, I meet artists that are islands on their own and I tell them all the time, ‘Find your flock, gather your flock,’” he said. “We live in such a singular society now that really doesn’t encourage the idea of collaborating or even social gatherings anymore.”
The hope is that the party’s guests will mingle and learn about each other, sparking partnerships and alliances. He likens it to high-level speed dating.
“For me, the result is when people the next day say, ‘Hey. I exchanged numbers with this particular artist or this particular singer, this particular writer or this particular architect, and now we’re going to work and collaborate together,’” he said.
Included in the book is Marisa Tomei’s grandmother’s recipe for charred red peppers, Carla Hall’s pimento cheese dip, Jessica Biel’s blueberry cake and Carol Lim’s Korean fried chicken. A mac and cheese from Q-Tip contains no less than five cheeses. “In most black households, if it’s less than five cheeses, it’s not legit,” Questlove jokes.
Questlove, born Ahmir Thompson, said the seed of the book sprouted more than 20 years ago when The Roots were trying to lure musicians to collaborate in Philadelphia. The best bribe turned out to be food, “the proverbial pie on the windowsill that drew everyone in.” They even convinced their record label to add a chef to the budget.
“For me, music and food and creatives go hand-in-hand. So, some 20 plus years, later, I just now call them food salons. And instead of using food to attract musicians to create music, I’m kind of doing the opposite where music is now in the background.”
To inspire his “Mixtape Potluck” celebrities on picking out their recipes, Questlove sent along a song that he felt best captured their unique creative energy. Martha Stewart got a Snoop Dogg tune, while vegetarian Natalie Portman got “Vegetables” by The Beach Boys.