WASHINGTON – Shovel burgers. Cupcake lasagna. Fried pickle jalapenos. Beef stroganoff. Flourless chocolate cake.
The list goes on.
Yes,musicians Dweezil Zappa and Lisa Loeb cooked burgers on a shovel. It was all caught on tape in California's Cleveland National Forest for an episode of their Food Network show,“Dweezil and Lisa,” in which they travel around the country learning to cook exotic and more commonplace foods from everyone from master chefs to their mothers.
As a promotion for the show,Zappa and Loeb are performing their music at clubs in 15 cities. The couple,who met when Zappa interviewed Loeb on MTV,played at the 9:30 Club here this week and will go to Atlanta next.
While the thought of traveling and eating food sounds too good to be true,Zappa and Loeb said the food show's schedule was exhausting.
“On the show,it looks so easy,” Loeb said in an interview aboard their tour bus. “It's actually a very produced show. Because we're dealing with food,everything's really planned in advance.”
Zappa said they put in 20-hour days while taping the 10 episodes.
“We were making a TV show,which we were heavily involved in the production of,in addition to concerts,early morning TV shows and radio shows,” Loeb said.
But amid the crazy schedules,there was always time for food. Loeb said they had to learn to pace themselves,but she ate whatever she wanted,when she wanted.
“We didn't learn the art of the spit tank,where you chew it,enjoy it and spit it out – we just ate it all,” Zappa said,lounging in an orange velour tracksuit about five hours before hitting the stage.
The show airs at 10 p.m. Friday nights on the Food Network,sandwiched between Jamie Oliver's “The Naked Chef” and “Date Plate,” in which bachelors try to woo a woman with their cooking skills.
In January,none of these shows was listed among the network's top 10 programs,according to a Food Network statement.
“We're on after Jamie Oliver,which is a great slot,” Loeb said,as she and Zappa both agreed that the program might get more viewers if it was shown at times other than Friday nights. They don't know if the show will be renewed for a second season.
In promoting her last album,“Cake and Pie,” Loeb had her friend and chef,Mark Tarbell,making pies on stage while she performed. The promotion went so well that she and Zappa went to Food Network proposing a segment on an existing show and came out of the deal with their own program.
“Dweezil and Lisa” has taken them to Chicago,Los Angeles,Palm Springs,San Diego,Atlanta,Phoenix,New York and Puerto Rico.
“We were in Puerto Rico when it was really,really humid,” Zappa said of the episode that will air Friday. “It was more exhausting than any vacation would ever be.”
Zappa said Puerto Ricans have an obsession with starch.
“They'd have three starch dishes with a meat dish. It was out of control,” he said.
Zappa and Loeb said they did not encounter any food on the road that they didn't like. They even got to revisit their childhoods through the “Comfort Foods” episode,in which they cooked dishes with each of their moms – both named Gail – Zappa said.
“I liked Dallas because there are usually boundaries,but I went to my high school and cooked with my mom,” Loeb said about her hometown. “There are places that you go so much growing up – you never think you'll get to see behind the curtain. It's like going to meet Oz.”
Loeb,who does not eat meat,said she doesn't have foods that she “saves for special occasions.” And the only things she really dislikes? Parsley and paprika,she said.
Large amounts of dill send Zappa running,he said,but he's “pretty much game” for anything else.
“I used to be a vegetarian based on how they treated animals,” Zappa said. “But I got sick all the time. Now I don't get sick.”
Zappa and Loeb both have new albums coming out in the next few months. Zappa said he was “recharged” musically from playing with Loeb.
The two musicians interested in cooking said one of the most valuable lessons they've learned from doing the show is common sense – don't skimp on the quality of ingredients.
“It sounds like a really simple thing,but I think it's easily overlooked,” Zappa said. “The better the ingredients,the better the food. You don't want to get in the way of natural flavors.”
Zappa also said he's learned how to improvise in the kitchen,which goes along with what he said about music.
“There are very few people who will expand on an arrangement or do an interpretation,” he said of popular bands that think their songs always have to sound the same.
If you don't want your food to always taste the same,take a lesson from Zappa and Loeb and try new things in the kitchen. And remember: Shovels aren't just for dirt anymore.