Touring musicians have a great gig. Rock and roll! It’s doubly great when they’re interested in exploring the international culinary world. We do realize some bands subsist solely on Taco Bell and Coke Zero. Shame on them! There’s Hatch chile to sample in New Mexico. Pappy Van Winkle in Kentucky. Doppelbock outside Hamburg. Tortas on the California-Mexico border. In Good Food, Rocks, we track down a band member serious about their grub — and who has held a job in the food industry too.
Noelle Scaggs is a singer and co-songwriter for the famously guitarless Los Angeles indie rock/soul band Fitz and The Tantrums. Their retro sound throws back to Motown with catchy pop infusions to launch instant hits like “MoneyGrabber” and “Out Of My League” (try the French version!).
As for Scaggs’ pasta fixation, it’s hard to blame her — those wild, high-energy live performances need fuel. Awesome fuel from some of LA’s best carbo-loading spots. We sat down before their show at NYC’s recent Governors Ball music festival to talk about her city’s food scene, what she’s cooking and where to celebrate National Doughnut Day.
What are your five favorite places to eat in LA right now?
My friend Jeff Mahan has Stella Barra; the one in Santa Monica is probably my favorite. Mozza and Angelini Osteria are other really amazing places as well. We have Night + Market Song, which is a really amazing Thai street food restaurant that just opened in Silverlake, which is my neighborhood, and it’s fantastic. And if you want really good Peruvian food, Mo-Chica in downtown LA is amazing.
I heard that they don’t have guinea pig, which is sort of disappointing.
It is disappointing, but I don’t think you could get that into LA.
What are three things that are always in your pantry?
I definitely always have good pasta in there, either spaghetti or fettuccini. I make everything from scratch as far as sauces go, so there will always be really good canned diced tomatoes, too.
Are you of the San Marzano school of thought?
Oh yeah. And then I also always have fresh heirloom tomatoes in the cabinet because it keeps them cool and prevents them from over-ripening too quickly.
After a really great show, what’s the first thing you feel like eating?
Oh man. There’s a mix of two things. Normally I want a pasta, probably because I make so much Italian food at home. I either want pasta or something fried, which is always really good after a show.
What’s the last meal you made at home and who did you make it for?
This really amazing summer sausage pasta — I know, pasta — right before we left on tour. It’s peas, Italian chicken sausage and really great walnut oil. I made it for 10 of my friends, one of whom is dating Jesse Wood from Naked and Famous, who’s also a good friend of mine. A few months ago we all had dinner at their new house and he made this incredible roasted chicken, so as a house-warming gift I bought them a deep-frying skillet thing and he loves it. I’m gonna teach him how to make proper fried chicken.
Where did you learn how to make proper fried chicken?
Through my family. I grew up with a family of caterers, so you kind of learn how to cook very quickly.
Who’s another musician you’ve worked with who’s really into food?
I would say Aaron Bruno from AWOL Nation is also a huge foodie.
What’s the best thing you make?
My friends really love my shrimp and grits, which is a rarity for me to cook because it takes so long. I made it once for a dinner party and my friends beg me until this day to do it again.
Do you have a secret ingredient?
I use beer. Beer and butter.
What is the last thing you bought from a food cart or a street truck?
Tacos. You know in LA, the mom and pop-style taqueria thing is huge. You gotta get your carne asada.
And finally, for dessert, you wished everybody a happy National Doughnut Day and Instagrammed a spot in Chicago. What’s that spot and what should you get there?
It’s called Do-Rite Donuts and they have the best old-fashioned donut I’ve ever had. It’s kind of like a cake donut, but a heavier, denser version with a nice glaze on it.
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