Cooking can be a grisly and visceral experience. My experiences at culinary school and in restaurant kitchens were filled with more blood, gore, fire, blades, and severed pig heads than your average black metal concert, so Hellbent For Cooking – The Heavy Metal Cookbook sounded like a lot of fun.
Assembled by Annick Giroux, “Morbid Chef” and headbanging queen of the kitchen, Hellbent For Cooking is a glossy grimoire that pays tribute to the unholy union of Metal and cuisine. Over a hundred recipes from just as many bands and artists from around the world. The photos are the kind of pretty food porn that would make most foodies drool, yet adorned with black candles, skulls, and stuffed ravens.
The food is as eclectic as the bands themselves. Some are simple creations that reflect the lifestyle of musicians and metal fans – “Macaroni Against Monotheism” from Dutch black metal band Countess, an honest-to-Thor “Pizza Cake” made by stacking frozen pizzas with sausage and slathering the sides with melted cheese comes courtesy of Washington thrash band Funerot. Others are truly inspired culinary creations: Rob Miller from Amebix submits a four star prawn bisque, while Canadian proto-doom gods Warpig submit a classic lamb shank braised in burgundy. Some recipes are a little more exotic — Filipino Death Metal squadron Deiphago submit a traditional pork in sour broth, and Malaysia’s Envenom shares a recipe for Roti Jala, a sort of fried, crispy dough. Some recipes do require some legwork; The Lamp of Thoth’s “Black Pudding and Squid” calls for a block of hashish and a whole squid and I’m sure you can guess the secret ingredient in Wino’s “Soul Brownies.”
But it’s not only the metal underground that is represented. Ms. Giroux also called upon the elder gods for her book – Uriah Heep, Budgie, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Sir Lord Baltimore all submit recipes, and there is even a recipe from the late Phil Lynott’s mother (“this was one of Phillip’s favorite dinners,” she writes) for a Sunday lamb roast.
Along with by-the-letter instructions, the book offers classical Escoffier-influenced methodology and techniques, strict guidelines for what beer to drink before, during, and after the preparation of the meal, and what albums to listen to during preparation and eventual consumption.
I had the opportunity to talk to Annick Giroux and let her speak for herself about how this mighty (and tasty) book came to be:
Hail Annick! How did the book all come together? How did you put out the call for entries?
Greetings Ben! I had 6 months to do the book, and needed to be very organized in order to be fast and efficient. First step was research; I spent about two weeks researching all the bands I knew and loved in Metal Archives (an online metal encyclopedia). I also found great bands I didn’t know – like Dusk from Pakistan for example! After this, I had to find their website, contacts, and wrote as much info in an Excel spreadsheet. I got around 350-400 bands doing it this way. Then came the time to contact them; which took weeks and weeks. I wanted it to be as personal as possible, so I contacted each of them separately. A lot of bands didn’t get back to me – so I found other ways of reaching them, like MySpace or snail mail. It was a lot of work! Most bands were into it, but of course some didn’t know how to cook, others weren’t interested in the concept or were too busy (it was summer, therefore bands were doing a lot of tours/festivals). Finally – after this, I collected the recipes and started cooking/photographing the dishes. I had to hurry up going home from work in order to arrive fast enough to cook and photograph the dishes under the sun (I did not use a studio, only daylight!). At the end of the project, I designed the book, and then wrote the contributing band’s biographies. Good thing my editor Ian helped me with some of these!
Was there anyone who contributed that you didn’t expect to hear from?
The bigger bands of course! Sepultura, Mayhem, Kreator, Destruction, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, etc. Contrary to what I thought, they were all VERY much into it!! Mütiilation from France also quite surprised me, although I know how much French people love food – so it wasn’t that much of a surprise.
Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?
I have too many, seriously! But I truly enjoyed…
Istian Minestra by Devastation (an amazing Croatian minestrone soup made with ham bones), Messiah’s “Infernal Swiss Alps Macaroni and Cheese” (Macaroni with parmesan cheese, potatoes and caramelized onions), Uriah Heep’s “Ali Baa Baa” (a lamb and mint stew), Mayhem’s Fårikål (lamb and cabbage stew – Norway’s national meal), Toxic Holocaust’s Bondage Rolled Steaks (Flank steak and bacon rolled, then slowly baked), Sigh’s Habanero Gyudon (Japanese beef stirfry with a hellish taste), Arphaxat’s Pictavian Chicken (Chicken drumsticks slowly cooked with white wine and bacon), the “Stew of True Doom” by Gates of Slumber (Simple red wine stew with a complex taste) and way way more…
How long have you been cooking? Do you cook professionally?
I’ve been cooking for a long time now, but I wasn’t always very good. I’ve been quite satisfied with my abilities for about 4 years now. I don’t cook professionally, but I am quite interested to learn new things! One thing’s for sure, I’m very passionate about food.
Will there be a sequel?
I am not sure about that one – I have many many plans for the upcoming years, but who knows what will happen. I would love to find time to work on a new one!
Pizza cake…culinary Brilliance? Or total Kitchen Abomination?
Culinary brilliance, of course! It’s like a kid’s dream being realized.
What were your favorite releases of 2009?
That’s actually quite a hard question!! I didn’t get to hear all the albums I wanted in 2009, but here is a list of what really shook me up:
BASTARDATOR; Identify the Dead
CANDLEMASS; Death Magic Doom
HEAVEN AND HELL; The Devil You Know
PROCESSION; The Cult of Disease
THE GATES OF SLUMBER; Hymns of Blood and Thunder
REVELATION; For the Sake of No One
GRAVE MIASMA; Exalted Emanation
RITUALS OF THE OAK; Hour of Judgement
I still didn’t check out the new IRON MAN and ASPHYX. I need to catch up!
I understand you are in a band?
My band CAUCHEMAR is still at its beginnings, but we are going to record a 5-song EP in February. I sing and play bass. We are mixing all our influences into one – be it traditional Doom Metal, Speed Metal, N.W.O.B.H.M. and Motörhead. Oh yeah, it will have French vocals – some sort of tribute to the old 80’s French metal gods we so dearly love! (such as H-Bomb, Vulcain, Sortilège, Blasphème, ADX, Killers, to name but a few)
You can get your own copy of Hellbent For Cooking at the usual suspects, or directly from the publisher. I would like to thank Annick Giroux for her time as well as the people over at Bazillion Points.