If you haven’t heard, Fitz and the Tantrums area a super hot soul/pop/rock band from Los Angeles, made popular in part by the killer singing of co-vocalist Noelle Scaggs. If you’ve seen or heard Noelle perform, you know that she’s the kind of person to give her whole self to things — and this is true of food as well as music. A true food enthusiast, Noelle does a blog called Adventures with Scaggs and was recently asked to do a doughnut collaboration with Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago. She created a limited-run doughnut called Sweet Heat, which was a maple old fashioned with candied Fresno chilies. In Noelle’s words, “I wanted to come up with something that represents my personality on and off stage: Sweet with a hole lot of sass.”
The Sweet Heat is no longer available, but Noelle’s love of food is forever. I called her up in Los Angeles earlier this summer to talk food:
Rolling Spoon: Have you always been into food?
Noelle Scaggs: When I was growing up I came from a family of caterers and pretty much everyone in my family cooked for themselves. When my mom when to work I was basically cooking for myself and was really trying to prepare really good food for myself so I wasn’t relying on junk food all the time. As I got older it would just get better and better. I love entertaining as well and throwing dinner parties. In the last two years or so when I have time when we’re on tour to find a great restaurant or get to know a neighbourhood that way, it’s kind of become a routine.
In my travels, going to France was a massive influence on the food blog I created, because I was basically writing down a journal of my travels. When I started going through the journals I realized everything was related in food some way.
I love having an outlet outside of music that I can put my energy into. I’ve met he most incredible people — Jeff Mahin who I partnered up with on this project with and his chef Francis Brennan who I met in Chicago though a friend of mine. I’ve met all of these amazing chefs through my travels and all of these people who are very very successful at what they’re doing and they’re really fascinated by the fact that I have this love of food and actually know what I’m talking about. I love food in the way that it brings people together. There’s always a love in a community around food that I really really enjoy.
It’s a great connector. As is music. Do you see a connection there?
Oh, absolutely. I really kind of pair food and music and the creation process as being something that is very similar. If you think about a chef who goes in and tries to master a particular dish, the hours spent creating that one particular dish is the same thing that you do musically when you’re creating a song. They’re very paralleled in very cool way and so are the sacrifices you have to make in order to be successful at what you do. That’s very very similar. I know a lot of my chef friends who hardly ever see their houses.
What about at home? What are some restaurants you love in L.A.?
I’m a huge fan of anything in the Nancy Silverton category, there’s the Pizzeria Mozza and then the higher end Osteria Mozza. And the food is just amazing. Here and Mario Batali have just gone 125% with what they do there. And Petite Trois is another one, just sitting behind the counter and sitting in a 25-person room and you can actually see the chefs do their thing. But I currently now live in Nashville — I just moved there three weeks ago.
You mention that you cook too! What are some of your specialties. If I came over for dinner tonight, what would you make me?
I’m a huge meat person. I enjoy roasting chicken. I made dinner for some friends of mine and I roasted these chickens and dry brined one and wet brined the other one for several hours to see the difference in flavours and they were both phenomenal. And doing something like that with a very simple potato salad on the side and a green salad. Anything that’s slightly Italian or French based. Or keeping a steak very simple, doing a dry rub on it or marinating it for 24 hours and just putting butter in a skillet and throwing I on there and letting it caramelize. I enjoy doing that. Anything you can eat off a carving board.
What is your favourite kind of pie?
Apple, hands down. And it’s gotta be done right. There’s a place in Los Angeles called Jones Bar and they have the best apple pie in the city. I would put up their apple pie against any other in California.
Since Noelle talked about how much she loves roasting chicken, I’m going to share a recipe I whipped up the other night. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but this simple roasted chicken (with veg) is coated in a an Indian-spiced yogurt paste. Let the paste fall onto the meat as you carve the chicken, for a bit of extra kick.
Indian Spiced Roast Chicken
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, cut in wedges
1 tsp olive oil
1 lemon, halved
1 whole chicken
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put the yogurt in a small bowl and add the garlic and spices. Place the vegetables in a dutch oven. Cut one half of the lemon into thin slices and add to the vegetables. Pour the olive oil over top the veg, sprinkle wih salt and pepper and toss.
Smear the yogurt mixture over the chicken and place the second half of the lemon in the cavity of the bird. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and put the lid on the pot. Cook for one hour and remove the lid. Cook for another 30 to 60 minutes, until chicken is completely cooked. Serving size depends on the size of the chicken.