Michael’s resume touches on nearly every aspect of the music industry from live event (Pitchfork, Wilco’s Solid Sound festival), to label (Numero Group), to studio/film/TV (producer, mixer, mastering engineer), to educator (Columbia College Chicago), and judge (The Grammy Foundation).
What was the food highlight of your year?
I’m very lucky that I got to travel to many of my favorite American cities this year — San Francisco, LA, NYC, New Orleans (twice!), Portland, Austin — and had some pretty tremendous meals in each city.
I’d have to say that on the more humble Mom and Pop side of restaurants, going to eat BBQ at The Original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was pretty remarkable. They only serve a few items: slabs of ribs with a fantastic BBQ sauce that has a ton of depth, a smoked half-sausage, potato salad, baked beans, and nilla wafer banana pudding. Needless to say we got everything and it was all really delicious. They smoke everything with hickory wood right on the side of the bar in this tiny little kitchen and it smells amazing in there. I’d be a regular if I lived with a couple of hours of that place.
On the more elaborate side of meals that really stand out, lunch at Torrisi Italian Specialities lived up to all the hype. Seven perfect courses, impeccable service, a memorable Pinot Blanc from Lieb Cellars, and easily the best fresh mozzarella I’ve ever had in my life.
What was the music highlight of your year?
Getting to stand 15 feet away from Prince and a 22-piece NPG band was easily the musical highlight of the year. I’ll forever be thanking George Lucas for having Prince & NPG as his wedding band here in Chicago this summer, which resulted in this crazy after-party Prince threw at City Winery from 2am-4am.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
I got to go down to New Orleans for the Ponderosa Stomp this October which is an amazing festival that features old soul, garage, and rockabilly musicians from the 50s - 70s. As excited as I was to see the Stomp, I was more excited to eat at the new Donald Link restaurant, Pȇche. I’m a huge fan of his other restaurants and had some pretty high expectations walking into Pȇche, all of which were exceeded. I went with some friends so we ordered a ton of dishes, but the whole grilled fish for the table with an herb sauce was the highlight of the meal.