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3-course interview: Todd Pulsinelli, chef and rapper

The Restaurant August chef releases another rap album

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Restaurant August Executive Chef Todd Pulsinelli has more than just impressive kitchen skills up his sleeve. On Sept. 9, the Ohio-bred chef, aka Warbucks, dropped his third hip-hop album Side Dishes, a record full of heavy beats and explicit lyrics, including the songs "Dirty Rice" and "Cheese Gritz." It's available on Apple's iTunes store and at Coutelier NOLA and Turkey & the Wolf. Pulsinelli talked to Gambit about his creative process and how he got rapping.

When did you start rapping?

Pulsinelli: It all stems from skateboarding, watching skateboarding videos and being into hip-hop. Since I was 13, I've always been in bands. In Ohio, around that time, I started getting into hip-hop from watching skateboard videos, because I've been a skateboarder my whole life. My friend Chuck and I, we just started recording using a boombox in the living room. We started getting more into it when we started using a four-track tape cassette recorder, which were relatively cheap back in the day. As I got older and got a job and started making money, I could buy better equipment. For this (album), we used Logic (Pro recording software), and I also have an old digital eight-track recorder from 1995 that I recorded two of the songs on. (My influences) are from the mid '90s, East Coast mostly: A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep, stuff like that.

What's your creative process like when recording?

P: It was hard to find time to record stuff, but I made it with my brother-in-law — after work we would mess around with beats. He'd made beats in the past, and so we would work together on the music. I usually like to make the beats first and then write words to them. It kind of depends on what the beat is, what comes to mind while you're doing it.

  (The name Warbucks) is because I'm going bald and I'm white, and I just thought it was funny. Really, rappers always boast about being rich and I thought it was funny because I'm definitely not rich at all, but I am white and going bald.

  (For the album) all the songs we were making were like side dishes, so it seemed like a good name. That was the concept of the album. Every song comes on and I just start rapping ... so there's no real chorus or hook. It's just beat, kind of like a side dish. I like the second song — that's really fast, "Baked Jalapeno Cheese Mac" — and I like "Collard Greens and Fish Sauce." I think that turned out pretty good too.

  Some of it is just from experience and funny things that happen (in the kitchen).

  It's definitely an outlet, and it helps to express yourself. Some people play sports and some people workout and do yoga. It's just something I've always loved to do.

There are some other kitchen talent cameos on both albums. Who are we listening to?

P: (Root and Square Root chef) Phillip Lopez is on one of them. He's on the Soup and Sandwich album, and he says a bunch of funny stuff. He used to be my neighbor and we recorded this song, in like 2009, and I put it on this record that came out later. But there's been a few cook friends. On the new album, there's Big Zesty; he's a cook over at Cochon, Richard Horner. I know him through Mason (Hereford) over at Turkey & the Wolf and those guys. There was another kid on the last album. He was a line cook when I was the chef at The American Sector. He was really, really good and had a few YouTube videos and was really trying to do something, so we recorded two songs together on the last album.

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