Lynne Rossetto Kasper Dishes on a Caller Who Cooked a Turkey in Hot Tar and Being a Reluctant Rock Star

Lynne R Kasper--group shot.jpg
Courtesy of Salt Agency
Lynne Rossetto Kasper with (L to R) Richie Moe, Dwayne Allen, Travis Nass and Shel Bourdon
Lynne Rossetto Kasper -- longtime host of NPR's James Beard Award-winning The Splendid Table -- was in town over the weekend to help KJZZ with its pledge drive. When I mentioned to four different friends that I was interviewing her, I got the same excited (and clearly envious) response every time: "Oh my God! I love her!!"

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I watched Kasper in action at the cocktail event at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails Friday night, where a panel of four top Valley mixologists assembled for a discussion and taste of four craft cocktails (more on that later this week), and the next day, I took her out for a two and half hour lunch. And guess what? Her warmth, easygoing charm and enthusiasm for all things food-related are completely genuine. But if you listen to her religiously on KJZZ every Sunday afternoon, you probably already suspected as much. Here are the highlights of a conversation we had over Bento Boxes at Nobuo.

Guys in bands have traditionally been rock stars. Nowadays people involved in food are. How does it feel to be part of a movement riding such a crest of popularity?:

Ha! We all circle back to the high school mentality! I see it from two points of view. It's wonderful that good, honest food and the farmers and artisans who create it are now rock stars. May they all become multimillionaires, and I include chefs too. But on the flip side, there's a lot of celebrity around people who, quite frankly, don't deserve it. But that's fine. That's the way life is. That said, the more we put food in the forefront, the better. Because now we're thinking about what we eat.

You were talking about local, organic and sustainable -- even defining those terms -- long before they were part of the everyday lexicon. Is that part of the food movement near and dear to you?:

Yes, we were in the proverbial front seat of the revolution, and while creating quality food is important, I lose patience more and more, lately, when I hear "sustainability" thrown around. Only 10% of the population can afford that option. Only 10% have the choice to say, "I will buy organic." So many people are just lucky to eat, much less to eat local, organic and sustainable.

So what's the answer?

The government supports commodity farmers and that's fine. You don't throw all of that out. Commodity farmers feed the world and support the global economy. But the government should put the same energy into developing affordable food that is organic and sustainable. We gotta figure this out. We have no other choice.

You get a lot of crazy callers with crazy questions or suggestions. Is there a call that sticks out in your mind?:

One year on Minnesota Public Radio, we started Turkey Confidential because cooking Thanksgiving dinner is white knuckle time for a lot of people. Everybody calls in with their favorite way to cook a turkey. One man says, "You don't know what you're doing. The best way to cook a turkey is to fill a bucket with hot tar, wrap the turkey in foil and cook the turkey in the bucket of tar."

Wow! So did you all test that out?:

No, you'd be surprised how hard it is to get hot tar.

Location Info

Nobuo at Teeter House

622 E. Adams St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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