#MondayMotivation: If You Want To Play, PLAY

Chef Ford Fry on the music in his head.

May 1, 2017 ● 2 min read

I loved my Walkman growing up.  

I remember spending hours listening to my tapes — Foreigner, Cheap Trick, The Police. I was particularly enamored by the guitar portions. I’d go to concerts, and I loved when the guy with the guitar would come out on stage. You could just feel the excitement. I wanted to experience that. The sound, the feel, and the energy of that moment.  

I asked my parents to get me a guitar. I stopped studying. I’d just sit my room, learning new songs. I spent way too much time at the guitar store — I was that obnoxious person that all the store employees hated. One of the guys I carpooled with in school had a band, so I decided I want to have a band, too. I joined one, and we would play formals and parties. My stage presence wasn’t great (and it still isn’t), but we had so much fun.  

When I became a chef, I saw that there were a lot of other people in the community who played instruments. I thought it’d be fun to create a band made entirely of chefs to play different food festivals. The great thing is that, because we were chefs, the expectations were so low, so when we’d go out there and be decent, people would be super impressed.  

Our first gig was a food and music festival that I started called the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival — it was inspired by the excess of tomatoes that farms were producing that year. We got chefs across Atlanta to buy out their farmers’ tomato supplies and make fun dishes out of them. I knew I wanted music to be a big part of the festival, so we hired all these local bands, and then I brought all these chefs together to play a set with me. It was such a great chance to tie all my interests together, and since then, I’ve played a bunch of food parties with the band.  

In the process, we’ve gotten to know all of the bands in town — we’ve even played with them (we recently got to play with the guitarist for Sheryl Crow, and that was amazing). I’m certainly not perfect when it comes to playing, but it’s fun to bring people together over music — I’ve gotten people like Dean Fearing and Tom Colicchio to play with me. More chefs than you might think really want to get out that inner performer.  

Ultimately, chefs and musicians are very much alike in the way they think and [create.] It blows me away how often chefs are compared to rock stars these days. But I don’t play to be a rock star: I play because my work in the restaurant consumes my mind, and sometimes I just need to get my body in a place where I can forget everything else. A wonderful part of my day is when I have the chance to just sit in my leather chair, turn everything off, and get into my own world with my guitar and my music. 

As told to Priya Krishna by Ford Fry | Photo via Ford Fry, Image via iStock