Interview: Dan The Automator

It's DJ Week at Food Republic, which means we are talking to some of our favorite clubland characters — but more about Serrano than Serato. And boy are they happy to tell us about their food adventures. It makes us jealous. DJ's live the life, and they eat very, very well.

Born Daniel M. Nakamura, Dan The Automator is a hip-hop production genius, having spearheaded two modern classics—Deltron 3030 and Dr. Octagonecologystwhile serving as a creative force behind the first (and best) Gorillaz album back in 2001. But if you peep his Twitter stream, you'll see he's seriously into hitting restaurants (Montreal's Au Pied de Cochon and London's Hibiscus get shout outs) as much as digging for wax. We checked in for his favorite late-night eats and how he's got Bourdain on the DVR.

Best meal you've ever cooked or best meal that's been cooked for you?

There's too many to name or compare. Most recently in Montreal, Fred [Mortin] and David [McMillan] of Joe Beef really created an epic one for us.

Who's another DJ or musician you've worked with who's really into food?

The two biggest are Mike Patton and John Medeski.

What's the best thing your mom cooks?

She makes really good cream cheese and butter cookies around the holidays.

In terms of food, what is your favorite city to visit while on tour?

In NYC there are many spots:

  • The kimchi stew at Momofuku
  • ramen at Minca
  • porcetta at Porchetta
  • Sushi Yasuda, though Yasuda has now gone to Japan I think

In Montreal:

  • Joe Beef
  • Schwartz's
  • Nora Gray
  • St. Viateur bagels

And: In London, I go to Hibiscus. Claude [Bosi] served the most incredible meal, my first meal back from a week in the Congo. In LA, Takao has hooked up some great meals. The best beef is at Totoraku. I do white soba at Otafuku. At Langers I do roast chicken and roast pork. In Paris: Le Comptoir, Guy Savoy, Roger La Grenouille. In New Orleans, Uglesich's is now closed but just heard from a reliable source that they will do a private party.

Three staples in your refrigerator?

Onions, eggs, La Vic hot sauce from San Jose.

Last meal you made at home was...

Pork tonkatsu cutlets.

Do you have any quirky (or strange) dietary habits?

Not strange so much. But I don't do fast food meals.

First food to hit your lips in the morning is...


Favorite cooking show on TV?

No Reservations. It's more food/adventure than cooking.

Do you have any food or drink requirements for shows?

Individual packaged snack things to take onto the bus. Good quality vodka, gin and occasionally Cognac.

If you're eating after 3AM, you're likely eating...

Pupusas or tacos.

Can you give us a playlist of songs you cook to?