I started Food Punk to create a space to celebrate food and music. Where else could I herald the magic of both Ramps and Pusha T? Cooking, like music, is an art. Both can be visceral, sensory experiences that transport, inspire and even define us. I’ve often found that those who play with knives are also into ‘deep cuts’ of another nature. It is in this spirit that I bring you this series: HEARD! highlighting the music enthusiasts behind the line, the bar, the pass and the pen.

Justin Keith is a proud father, and food, beer and music enthusiast.
He is executive chef at Food 101. He is only the 6th guest of the HEARD! series but perhaps the most dedicated. (He even included an all food music playlist!) Settle in and take a listen!

What was the first live music performance you attended?

My mother took me to see Alabama in the early 80’s when I was about 6 years old. I think she couldn’t find a baby sitter at the time & REALLY wanted to go. I remember loud music, lots of people singing along to what I later discovered was their recent hit ‘Mountain Music’ as I was dozing in out of sleep.

One of the earliest ventures out on my own was a road trip to Lollapalooza in Atlanta featuring Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, George Clinton, Tribe Called Quest, Black Crowes, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, among others. Being a high school kid from a small town, I was like holy shit!! I remember a thick fog of smoke, a mosh pit and I think I got a braid in my hair.

What was the most recent?

Widespread Panic – 04/27 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre-Atlanta, GA

What album/artist changed/defined/etc your life?

Space Wrangler – Widespread Panic

Ironically, in much of middle and high school, I listened to a lot of hip-hop/rap. People who know me now would laugh at that. I remember one weekend when my older brother was home from college and I came across his CD Case. I was curious to see what his current music interests were, and he played this CD for me. I was instantly hooked. It had Rock/Blues/Soul/Jam – everything. It was a transition moment for me into the world of music breaking away from the hip-hop/rap genre I was in.

Do you have a musical equivalent to a guilty pleasure?


Not that I feel guilty when I listen, cause they are great albums, just not part of my normal rotation.

What album is your go to for when you wanna smash stuff and life is sticking it to you?

Would have to be something with upbeat tempo & loud guitar as white stripes, Black Crowes, Allman Brothers, My Morning Jacket, Black Keys and such.

What album is your go to for fist-pumping-this-is-the-best-
ever-happiness times?

Usually, when Im in a good mood, I listen to Bluegrass bands like Del McCoury Band, Hot Rize, Greensky) or Funk like The Meters, James Brown, Greyboy Allstars

What is on your turntable at home right now? Or the last album you listened to on computer MP3 etc?

This morning was Steve Earle’s newest album Low Highway on Vinyl over coffee. Solid album start to finish & a nice way to ease into the day

Guess I have always been interested in music. My old man sung in a band in high school called ‘The Southern Sounds Of Soul’ – Beach/Oldies music. I think they even cut a 7” single.

My Uncle probably turned me onto music the most. He was a photographer in NY back in the 70’s and has tons of stories of photo shoots — small clubs hanging the likes of Blondie, Elvis Costello or sneaking his camera gear into Rolling stones concerts. His vinyl collection is the size of my walk-in cooler, wall to wall.

Being a Georgia native, we have had tons of artists evolve from home: R.E.M, B-52’s, Allman Brothers, James Brown, Widespread Panic, Black Crowes, Ray Charles, Bloodkin…..just to name a few. Atlanta has a great music scene with several great venues and good acts come through town all the time so I get to stay in the loop.

Once I was off to college, I discovered the world of DAT (Digital Audio Tape). I became submerged. I bought the gear, the decks, and hit the road taping favorite bands and trading tapes. I’ve still got boxes and boxes of these things in my closet. I’ve seen Widespread Panic alone, close to 200 times! Some may think that’s crazy. It’s really not much different than hard core sports fans who load up, travel, and tailgate every weekend to see their favorite team play.
Weekend before Christmas in NYC few years back, my brother scored us tickets to Neil Young at The United Palace Theatre We began at Momofuku’s noodle bar then the show, then out on the town bar hopping. Great night! Only to awake the next morning to begin work on a multi-course, sold out dinner at the James Beard House!!

Last few years, things have slowed down a bit and those road trips are less frequent. I have recently gotten into the world of vinyl and I love the retro nostalgia of it all. Now I enjoy hitting the local record shops and thumbing thru to see what I can find and don’t download as much. I enjoy coming home from work at the end of a long, hard day, pouring a drink and throwing on a record to unwind.

Something is usually always playing. I keep personal favorites loaded on my phone. I am a playlist geek. I’m the guy who sends mixtapes for Christmas cards. But as mentioned before, I enjoy the vinyl sound, because you have to really sit down & commit your attention to it.

Lately, I am into a lot of singer/songwriter easy listening stuff:

Justin Townes Earle (favorite), Darrell Scott, Guy Clark, Ryan Adams, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine – These guys write great songs.

I pretty much like anything except for Heavy Metal & ‘NEW’ Country. Do NOT get that confused with REAL country (Waylon, Hank, Cash, Willie)

Desert Island albums:
Off The Top Of My Head – some personal favorites I don’t grow tired of

Some specific personal favorites
Phosphorescent – To Willie
Rolling Stone – 40 Licks
Midnight at the Movies – Justin Townes Earle
Heartless Bastards – Arrow
Grateful Dead – Dick’s Picks 33
The Band – The Last Waltz
James Brown’s Funky People
Darrell Scott – Long Ride Home
Black Keys – El Camino
Blue Note Various Artists – Back Down To The Tropics (Jazz Compilation)
Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits

In the kitchen if it’s an easy going day, usually some background stuff. Might be instrumental jazz like Grant Green, or easy listening folk music like The Band, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, or even bluegrass like Chatham County Line, Steve or Justin Townes Earle.

If it’s a full work load and a little more intense, would lean towards more hard / alternative rock with loud guitar.

Just in my itunes library alone, I’ve got enough music to play for 298 days, 14 hours, 39 minutes & 31 seconds so there is plenty to choose from.

Here’s a playlist of mine that relates to the love of food & music. The songs are all about food we often put in on in the kitchen. A nice mix of all genres!

Food For Thought – Songs About Food


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