Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. | Commodore Ballroom
Tickets and info: $45 (plus taxes and fees); commodoreballroom.com
Action Bronson faces off against his fair share of food fare.
As a celebrated chef and host of the VICELAND show F*ck, That’s Delicious, Bronson and his assorted entourage taste their way through notable and noteworthy establishments around the world.
And he eats. Every. Single. Bite.
“If I really like it, I’m eating it all,” he says.
So, if Bronson (born Arian Asllani) doesn’t eat an entire plate, does that equal a slight to the dish’s creator? Not quite.
“Sometimes, I’m just trying to watch my figure, so I’ll just have a little smidge,” he says with a laugh. “It’s not that I’m watching the weight, it’s that I have to eat 75 times more that day.
“I don’t want to be waddling around with swollen feet like I’m pregnant for 13 months with a baby elephant. I probably wouldn’t be as comfortable as walking around in some UltraBoosts, high as f*ck.”
Wait a minute, did Bronson just slip in an Adidas mention? Perhaps this conversation has become an ad opportunity for the Flushing, Queens, New York native?
“No, that wasn’t a product mention,” he laughs at the idea. “But, perhaps it could be. You never know.”
But, probably not, because, if there’s one thing Action Bronson doesn’t do — it’s mince words.
“Hey, I don’t plug shit,” he says.” If I plug shit, it’s going to be: F*ck, That’s Delicious; F*ck, That’s Delicious, the mother-f*cking book; Blue Chip Tour 7000; The Untitled Action Bronson Show …(trails off into an unintelligible stream of gobbledygook).
One gets the sense pretty early on when interviewing the 33-year-old multi-hyphenate (he’s a rapper/chef/TV personality, in case you didn’t know) that they’re in for a session of thinly veiled sarcasm and almost-truths.
Bronson, it seems, is one of those rare interviewees who refuses to play along.
Have a question about an upcoming tour stop? He’ll likely talk about “baby piss” (more on that later) instead.
Want to know about his show? Sorry, it’ll take a few long, slightly blurry detours to get where you’re hoping to go.
But, nonetheless, Bronson is an entertaining interview. If nothing else, he serves as a textbook exercise in Journalism 101 of keeping a discussion on track. In order to ensure the audio playback on the time-capped interview doesn’t yield throwaway quotes that amount to a big, fat zero, of course.
On the food front, Bronson is the host of the aforementioned show on VICE, which sees him tasting his way through a host of eateries — from hole-in-the-wall shops in Seattle, to lauded restaurants in Italy. And, on the music front, he’s out touring in support of his latest album, titled Blue Chips 7000.
So, how does Bronson feel about having one foot in the food world and one in rap music?
“To do something you love and still have some level of recognition, it’s phenomenal,” he says.
While Bronson may not boast the typical traits of an entertainment celebrity such as eight-pack abs and a made-for-TV haircut, that hasn’t stopped him from, well, blowing up.
While his rap career hasn’t hurt to make him a huge hit, it’s his laugh-inducing demeanour that has garnered him a legion of loyal fans. And maybe a few enemies, too.
At one point in the interview, Bronson breaks into a bout of raking coughs.
“Excuse me,” he wheezes in between barks.
Are you OK, Bronson?
“Oh yeah, I’m amazing,” he quips. Now, back to the interview.
Speaking of the food-versus-rap situation — two genres which often appear embroiled in some type of drama or another — which one is more, well, dramatic in his opinion?
“In every genre or in every type of thing, I feel like everything is cliquey,” he says. “It’s like high school. Shit always pops off in everything — the office, the f*cking swimming team — everyone has beefs within.”
But Bronson doesn’t let it get to him.
“I don’t let nothing get to me. I’m having too much fun with life,” he says. “I’m drinking wine with friends (it’s 1 p.m. EST at the time of our interview but, hey, no judgment), I’m getting high off hash. What the f*ck do you want me to do?”
One topic Bronson is happy to sound off on is marijuana. Bronson can often be spotted with a massive blunt tucked casually behind his ear — or else glancing into the camera through half-shut eyes. To say he’s a fan of getting high, well, that would be an understatement.
So, just how high is Action Bronson?
“I think that I’m probably one of the highest people, period. Ever,” he says with a laugh. “The thing is, it’s hard to rival what I actually do with marijuana consumption and CBD consumption.
“It’s almost unfathomable what I do to get high. It really is. If you told a normal person what I do, they’d be like, ‘What the f*ck are you talking about?’ In front of me right now there are three different pipes — three different oil rigs,” he says. “All varying in the thousands of dollars range.”
“There’s one that’s in the $70-$80,000 range. There’s a $30-$40,000 one. And a $10,000 one in front of me.”
Bronson says he employs the “vessels” interchangeably throughout the day in order to reach his desired level of high.
“And it’s all sitting on a marble … just a f*cking marble palette,” he says of the setup. “A huge marble palette I had flown in from Milan …”
On a roll now, Bronson interrupts the next question meant to steer the interview back on track.
“And there’s music at my fingertips at all times,” he says with a raucous chortle.
So, with Bronson’s affinity for all things weed and food, it seems like a visit to Vancouver could prove particularly fruitful for both those hobbies.
“And wine,” he corrects when asked about these two favourite pastimes. “I drink it like juice. I’m drinking baby piss right now. This is like baby piss, you know how babies are really small and they don’t have a lot of stuff in them. Their piss is just white and clear, and beautiful and natural. I’m drinking baby piss.
But not literally though.
“No, not literally,” he deadpans. “This is the baby piss of a natural grape that’s been gently touched by nature and preserved by man.”
Maybe it’s time for another diversion.
“Hold on one second, hold on. I’ve got another call. One second,” he says suddenly.
With that, Bronson’s line goes silent. With a mere 10 minutes of time afforded for the entire interview, we’re now down another few precious seconds.
“Hello,” he says as he comes back on the line. “Sorry about that.”
Well, here’s to hoping it was something important, at least? His dealer, perhaps?
“I don’t have a dealer, I have people who grow things,” he shoots back at the query. “I have people who manufacture by hand. Hand-crafted artisans. It’s like Italian masonry workers, but with the stone. Giuseppe’s working the hash.”
With the clock running down on the call, it’s time to take one more stab at nailing down Bronson’s planned itinerary for when he’s in Vancouver toward the end of the month.
“I’m going to smoke a lot of hash with my mans in Vancouver. I’m not going to mention their names — they know who they are. I’m going to hit some mother ships … I don’t know what else they got at this point, but I’m going to see what new pieces they got,” he says. “And I’m probably going to get some Mediterranean delights. Possibly a Spanakopita, in the Greek style.
“There’s a really good chance I’m going to go have some sushi.”
Music, food, weed and surely some wine. Sounds like an itinerary Bronson can be passionate about.
“My passion is life. My passion is living,” he muses. “My passion is everything that comes with having my eyes open and me being conscious — kinda.”
RECIPE: Explosive Chicken
“This is the chicken of all f*cking chickens,” Action Bronson says in the lead-in to this dish in his new cookbook, F*ck, That’s Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well.
Consider yourself warned.
“I made this on The Rachael Ray Show. Some places call it chicken with pepper, some Chongqing Chicken. I call it Explosive Chicken, just like Z & Y.* Don’t marinate this chicken longer than fifteen minutes — if you leave it too long, it’s going to be overpowering and it’s going to taste like that Japanese Sakura teriyaki chicken from the mall. Which I love, don’t get me wrong, but for this you want a totally different taste.”
1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce
1/2 cup (120 ml) rice vinegar
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
1. pounds (680 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup (60 g) Szechuan peppercorns, divided use
1/3 cup (60 g) sugar
1 tablespoon salt
11/2 cups (220 g) rice flour
11/2 cups (190 g) cornstarch
2 to 3 quarts (2 to 3 L) canola oil
3 cups (720 ml) cold seltzer water
2 green onions, white and green parts, cut into
2-inch (5-cm) pieces
1 cup (30 g) dried Szechuan chiles
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, tough stems removed,
White rice, as a side
Make the marinade: Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar.
Cut the chicken thighs into large chunks — nice chopstick-size pieces, about six per thigh — place them in the marinade, and leave for 15 minutes but no longer. A short dunk softens the chicken just enough and the flavour won’t be overpowering.
Make the spice mixture: Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind all but 2 tablespoons of the peppercorns. Stir together the ground peppercorns, the sugar, and salt and set it aside.
Fill a Dutch oven about halfway up the sides with oil and heat it over medium-high heat to 325°F (165°C).
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and cornstarch for the dredge, then whisk in the seltzer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Drain the chicken from the marinade. Working with a few pieces at a time, dunk the chicken into the dredge, shake off the excess, and fry until lightly browned, crispy, and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. As the pieces are done, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them on the prepared baking sheet, then sprinkle them on all sides with a little spice mixture. We could stop here and it would still taste good, but we’re not going to stop here.
Add 1 tbsp. of oil to a large skillet or wok and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil and pan are very hot, add the green onions, the reserved whole peppercorns, the chiles, and a sprinkle of spice mixture. Toss for a second or two until the chiles smell fragrant, then add the chicken pieces. Cook, tossing often, until the chicken is heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Serve topped with the cilantro and a side of hot white rice.