Talking Food and Stuff With Aziz Ansari
Comedy's galavanting gourmet on burgers, best eats
Aziz Ansari's love of good food is well documented, on his Twitter page, in magazine articles and in a tour itinerary that seems suspiciously geared toward trying out the country's best restaurants. After the photo of him wielding a big chef's knife before a rack of ribs in a kitchen — he admits to us that he doesn't cook himself, though he'd like to learn — read about his favorite restaurants of late, his comedy special Dangerously Delicious and which dead celebrities he'd re-animate and invite to dinner.
Do you find it hard to find good food while you're on the road?
Not at all. I was in Asheville and Nashville last weekend and made it two great restaurants. Most cities have a food scene. That’s part of the reason I love touring, to go to that city and eat whatever supposed to be their good cuisine.
Any chefs you want to shout out?
Too many to list. In Charleston I eat at Husk. Sean Brock’s restaurant. They do an incredible cheeseburger there. I was in Cleveland and there’s a chef Jonathon Sawyer at Greenhouse Tavern. I was in Nashville at Catbird’s Seat. In Asheville, I went to Curate. In every city there’s great stuff if you look for it, you know?
And it’s not all fancy restaurants. I don’t want to come off like that. I always go to taco trucks or barbecue stands.
Would you ever invest in a restaurant?
I have, but I can’t talk about it.
Now there’s gonna be some horrible theme restaurant that opens up next year—now, here’s the thing I couldn’t talk about! [Laughs mischievously.] Nah, but it is a gamble, but if you really believe in people you just do it.
Putting aside food for a minute, what about technology? You followed Louis CK's lead and released your latest comedy special, Dangerously Delicious, through your website. For only 5 bucks! Are you happy with the results?
Definitely, it's a more personal thing.
And you were an early adapter to Twitter and started your own website years ago...
It wasn’t plotting to get ahead of the curve on it. I just had a website and posted dumb stuff on it and blogger and tumblr were easy interfaces to use. And then Twitter is an easy outlet if you’re a comedian to write dumb jokes on, so it spread really fast among our community. It's good way to keep in touch with fans.
Back to food. As Tom Haverford on Parks & Recreation, you're always riffing on food, like saying you call a sandwiches "sammies," "Samuelsons" or "Adam Sandlers. Are you making these up on the fly?
Some of those are improvised and some are in the script. That was fun because they usually don’t make them so long.
What was the last thing you ate?
It’s pretty boring. I had some oatmeal and a peach.
Let’s say you’re in front of a table with pizza, sushi, tacos and burgers—what’s the first thing you’re going for?
You say burgers and tacos—those are huge umbrellas. It depends on what pizza, taco, sushi and burger we’re talking about.
The best of everything: a Shake Shack burger—
—Oh my gaaaawwwwd. I’d say right now I feel like a cheeseburger, so I’d grab a cheeseburger.
Do you ever cook?
No, it’s something I’ve never gotten into. I’ve never really had time, but it’s definitely something I’d like to do.
Ever watch a chef prepare food up close? Anyone impress you?
I’m friends with a lot of chefs but I usually just sit at the table and they bring food and I eat it.
You went to Japan recently for a GQ story, eating your way around Tokyo with David Chang and James Murphy, which sounded like the old question about who you'd invite to a dinner party. Which dead celebrities would you want to go on a gastro-tour with?
Whoa. Hmmm. Would they be reanimated or just their dead body would be there at the dinner table?
Let’s make them alive.
There’s a lot of implications because I get to bring back someone from the dead and they’ll be around, so it seems kind of selfish for it to be just someone I wanna have dinner with. Now it’s a huge question of who that’s ever been killed would I bring back. That’s too heavy for me. I don’t know what dead celebrities I’d wanna have dinner with. Maybe I’d bring back Jimi Hendrix and Jesus.
There you go.
But that woul’d freak people out. Jesus would come back and people would be like, What happened? And he’d be like, Aziz Ansari wanted to have dinner with me.