Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Got Fed By Rachael Ray

By Evan Rytlewski
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Yesterday brought one of SXSW’s most anticipated (and oddest) day parties: Rachael Ray’s. Apparently, the celebrity chef/media mogul is a serious indie music lover, but I still have a hard time believing that the soccer mom-like talk show host has an iPod filled with Holy Fuck. Nonetheless, hers was one of the best parties I attended this week. Free mojitos loosened up the crowd, while Elfren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite’s Pedro) proven himself a better DJ than actor, spinning a crowd-pleasing mix of new electro and ’80s pop. I wish more DJs would include Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Cutter” in their rotation.

Ray catered the event with an Austin-appropriate menu, and her food was exactly like you’d imagine: gross and fatty. Here’s the complete menu:

• 7-layer Sliders (they were laced with joyless, slightly off-tasting guacamole)

• Bourbon Orange Skillet BBQ Chicken w/ Cornbread Topper (a deep-fried whooper would have been less oily than this slop)

• Austin Mac ’n’ Cheese Suizas (tasty, albeit a bit congealed)

• Baby Back Pork Ribs w/ Apricot Jelly BBQ Glaze (Having learned from the chicken, I took a pass on these)

And the music? Well, this wasn’t party wasn’t really about the music. The Raveonettes shared one of their nine SXSW sets; The Stills threw down some passable post-punk, and Ray’s husband’s band, The Cringe, made audiences do just that. The Cringe weren’t terrible per se, but their straight-faced classic-rock felt out of place on such a consciously hip line-up (an appearance from ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons only made them stick out that much further).

Ray’s hubby, John Cusimano, is a little fella. Dressed down in a T-shirt and eight-o’clock shadow, he looked sort of like a haggard Jason Schwartzman (he also channeled Jason Bateman’s sad Juno character).

At least he didn’t try to deny the obvious nepotism behind his appearance. “You all know my wife,” he said. “This is a song I wrote about her,” he continued.

“It’s called ‘Burn,’ but it’s not about her cooking. It’s about a different kind of burn, if you know what I mean.”

I really didn’t.

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