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How Questlove Turned His Passion for Food Into a Great New Project

Questlove, with April Bloomfield, at this year's James Beard Foundation Awards.

Questlove, with April Bloomfield, at this year's James Beard Foundation Awards.Photo: Kent Miller

Questlove is the best kind of food geek: a champion of chefs and restaurants who just seems genuinely excited about everything that's happening in the community. He's a common presence at industry events, and he (briefly) ran his own chicken shop with Stephen Starr (the Underground Gourmet team were fans). Several months ago, he started another project: so-called food salons that he hosts at his home in lower Manhattan.

The idea is simple. Invite a bunch of chefs to cook while an eclectic group of people enjoys the food. A dinner party, in other words. So far, he's hosted two, with a third one planned for later this summer. Wylie Dufresne and Danny Bowien cooked during the first salon, and the night I went, earlier this month, April Bloomfield was in the kitchen with Brooks Headley and Wolvesmouth's Craig Thornton.

During that dinner, Questlove had a camera crew following him, and they passed the video along to Grub Street:

It's not really news that a famous musician can throw a good party. What's noteworthy is that Questlove appears to really want these dinners to be something more. Here's how he described the idea in an email:

They're personal but community-building. It's not like a sit-down dinner party would be. It's a walk-around of thought leaders in music, food, film, art who all can come together around a simple idea, food. I find myself gravitating towards a community of chefs. In music, musicians from different bands and genres will hang out and connect on ideas around music. At the salon, chefs are able to work together, they each stay on course, but the togetherness and their individual ideas about food create a meal that defines this community.

Typically, this is the kind of project that someone would try to turn into a cookbook, or a web series, or even a feature story in a food magazine. Maybe that will happen down the road, but for the moment, anyway, you get the sense that there isn't any kind of larger agenda. That's what makes these salons so intriguing: Questlove really is just the world's most famous food geek, someone who wants to channel his enthusiasm into a decidedly generous concept.

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