Playing in a band and helming the kitchen of an upscale restaurant might seem like vastly different gigs. But for Andrew Bonner, the transition came fairly naturally. The former bassist of Boston emocore band Piebald is now the executive chef at Kendall sister establishments the Blue Room and Belly wine bar, where he spends time making flavors sing. And while it’s been almost five years since Piebald last played a show, he hasn’t missed a beat.
When you’re on tour you get to see something new every day. It’s Mount Rushmore one day, a majestic pack of reindeer the next and two flat tires on your trailer the day after that. Of course you get to deal with your fair share of disasters and new products on a daily basis in the kitchen, but the scenery doesn’t change.
We toured with a band that had a very natural kind of “use everything” outlook on life. They would dumpster dive to find food and bring it back to the venue to cook for their dinner. They always asked me if I was hungry, and I always said no. One day one of them showed me a frozen burrito, still in its plastic, and asked if I wanted to split it with him. I figured if I was ever going to extend the olive branch—that was the time. When he handed me a burrito filled with trash meat inside a trash tortilla, I felt bad and ate it. They were great guys, and I didn’t want to offend them, but I’m not too big on eating things out of dumpsters. I never ate with them again.
I miss hanging out with my boys: Aaron, Travis, Luke and Ryan. We were together for so long and the amount of time we spent together, especially in close quarters, forged some very tight bonds. Now, with two guys in LA, one in New York and one in Western Massachusetts, we don’t get to see each other very much. I miss my band of traveling pirates.
I don’t miss loading in and out of venues. We had thousands of pounds of equipment and merchandise which we had to unpack, load in and repack every night. Although I do miss playing Tetris inside the trailer, I don’t miss all the heavy lifting.
I would have to say porróning Txakoli from the second floor balcony to our patio in front of our Txakoli Fest crowd.
We do have some regulars that like to sit at our kitchen high tops. I don’t know if I’d call them groupies, but they’re probably the closest thing we have.
I listen to the “yacht rock” stations on Spotify at work. I like me some smooth music. The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald and the Eagles. It helps to calm my mind.
That’s a difficult question to answer. If I had to pick one on the spot, it would be “Fitted Shirt” by Spoon. Every note, sound and instrument in the song sounds like it’s in exactly the right place. They all fit together in a complimentary way to make a song that is clean yet gritty, modern yet nostalgic and, when it’s over, you want to listen to it again.
Harry Nilsson’s “Lime in the Coconut.”
When I started at The Blue Room there was already an Andrew and a John (my first and middle names) working in the kitchen. To avoid confusion everyone called me AJ. Eight years later, I’m still called AJ, but only in the industry. So in a weird way I guess I do have a stage name.
Oddly enough, my favorite pie would be cheesecake. I just can’t get enough of the stuff.