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G FORCE | SAM MASON

Encores in the kitchen

Rufus Wainwright (left) mixes things up under the supervision of Sam Mason, executive chef at Tailor in New York, for an episode of “Dinner With the Band.’’ Rufus Wainwright (left) mixes things up under the supervision of Sam Mason, executive chef at Tailor in New York, for an episode of “Dinner With the Band.’’
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Correspondent / April 27, 2010

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Sam Mason isn’t a musician, but he has collaborated with a wide array of artists including Rufus Wainwright, Les Savy Fav, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Andrew W.K. The twist is that Mason, the executive chef at Tailor in New York, takes the musicians out of the studio and into the kitchen on his IFC series “Dinner With the Band.’’ For the 13 episodes to come, Mason, who also moonlights as a country music deejay on East Village Radio, will whip up treats like “Sharon Steaks and the Dap Rings with Gravy’’ for soul shouter Jones and her band and the “Party Hard Brisket’’ in honor of hard rock madman W.K. Although they aren’t forced to sing for their supper, the artists do play a few numbers and talk about their favorite foods.

After a six-episode primer last year, the series reboots tonight on IFC at 10:30. We met Mason at a press event in Pasadena, Calif., recently and he dished with us on “Dinner.’’

Q. Where did you get the idea for the show?

A. It was actually the brainchild of a friend of mine, who at that time was not a friend of mine. He worked for the Food Network for a while and he had this idea to combine music and food and, as embarrassing as it is, he Googled “tattoo’’ and “chef.’’ And I came up and he called me. Very embarrassing.

Q. I can’t believe you were the only one that came up.

A. This was six years ago, when there weren’t that many. [Laughs.] We met and it sounded like a great idea. It was one of those harebrained kind of things. We shot a pilot in my apartment. It got picked up by an online network out of Austin and we did that for a couple of years. And then IFC out of nowhere swooped in and picked it up. It was really awesome.

Q. What determines the menu for the episodes?

A. [We] interview the bands as extensively as possible and via anecdotes from the road for allergies or if they’re vegetarians, I kind of build the dish around that. It’s all something to engage them and get them out of their comfort zone and start talking and they end up saying some of the most amazing things.

Q. What kind of stuff do you play on your radio show?

A. Early Merle Haggard, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, obviously, [he points to his Waylon Jennings belt buckle and laughs]. It’s ’40s to ’70s. I’ve always been a country music fan. My next tattoo is going to be a Grand Ole Opry microphone.

Q. Clearly you’re a music fan. Do you play an instrument yourself?

A. Terribly not. I own a banjo. Maybe someone will teach me how to play it one day. I would be tambourine guy. Or maybe cowbell.

Interview was condensed and edited.