Erik Bruner-Yang is chef/owner of Toki Underground and Maketto in Washington D.C.
What was the Food Highlight of Your Year?
2013 was the first year I participated in Capital Food Fight, which is DC Central Kitchen’s largest yearly fundraiser. It was the first time I have ever done any type of competitive food competition and it was just an amazing experience. The food fight was the first time I have been on stage since I stopped playing in bands back in 2009. It brought back all the nerves and excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time.
But the best part wasn’t actually the battle but it was getting to meet the students and the mentors involved with the program. DC Central Kitchen really just does some amazing things and that was really inspiring.
What was the music highlight of your year (and why)?
Hands down the Dismemberment Plan reunion. My favorite band of all time. The first mix tape I ever got had only two bands on it. Side A was Ice of Boston EP and half of “!”. Side B was the Pharcyde.
To me, The Dismemberment Plan is easily one of the most important indie bands of all time and a band at their age should keep on keeping on.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
I love making playlists for the restaurant. I would say 75% of the atmosphere at Toki is the music. But the best way music and food comes together for me every year is when we participate as a food component for Sweetlife Festival hosted by Sweetgreen. Since I don’t go to shows as much as I used to, I really seize the opportunity at this festival to get a year’s worth of music knowledge. I discovered Twin Shadows at Sweetlife 2012 and Haim there in 2013.
This year Toki Underground/Maketto went ham at Sweetlife festival. We collabed with Chef Spike Gjerde and his whole Woodberry Kitchen crew and just did the craziest street dishes. We had a ramen shop, an izakaya, a shaved ice shop, and that was only half of the setup.