Aaron Gillespie is happy to talk about his mega-selling Christian metalcore band, Underoath, which plays the Ritz Ybor on Nov. 25. He's also eager to discuss his side rock band, The Almost, which released its second album, Monster Monster, this month.
But if you really want to jump-start his motor, ask him about the grub on Bourbon Street.
"There's a po'boy shop, dude, in the French Quarter, that'll blow your mind," the singer and drummer said this week during a four-day break from touring. "I think that's my favorite lunch spot in the entire world. It's one of those places that hasn't changed since the '50s. It smells like old fry grease inside, and there are people everywhere."
Gillespie, who lives in Tarpon Springs, may be a rock star, but his real passion is food. He loves to cook, and he maintains a culinary blog called Foodisms, spotlighting his favorite restaurants and recipes at home and on the road. He's even taped appearances on several cooking shows.
So when we got Gillespie on the phone recently, sure, we could have asked him about the massive success of his two bands. But we figured: The man loves to eat. We love to eat, too. So let's talk grub.
Why start a food blog?
I've been cooking and watching the food channel for, like, 10 years. I got a new publicist this year, and I was in New York to meet her, and I was staying in my manager's house on Long Island. That night I made dinner for him and his wife, and he was so stoked on it. He proceeded to tell my new publicist about it, and she was like, "Oh, we have to use that angle." I was like, "What do you mean, angle?" So I started doing food press. I just did That Morning Show on E! last week. I've gone out to dinner with some food writers. And now Food2, the Food Network Web site, is interested. I'm really excited about it, and it affords me totally different conversations with different people. These people know nothing about the music world, and I'm a newbie to the food world, so it's awesome.
Are fans into it? Have they started suggesting places to eat?
Oh yeah, all the time. Every day on my Twitter, someone tells me where to go eat in their town. I'm going to end up 300 pounds, I know it.
Do you have any favorite haunts around here for a quick bite?
Oh yeah. In Tarpon, there's a place called Tony's Diner on Alt. 19 (914 S Pinellas Ave.). It's this couple from Greece, they moved here 15 years ago, and it's just a diner with 10 tables. You can get a Greek salad that's like a kitchen sink, it's so big, and it's $4.95. They make their own dressing at home, and they bring in their own recipes that they've been doing their entire lives. They can barely speak English, but they kiss you on the cheek every time you go in. It's one of those places I associate with home. When you get really hungry and you're stuck in Croatia, that's what you think about.
If you were going to splurge on a nice meal, where would you go?
I think Bern's is probably the best fine dining restaurant in the world that I've ever been to. I've had food that might be tastier, but the whole Bern's ethic for me just does it. Mr. Laxer built that place with his bare hands. That's what I love about food — it's passion, it's life, it's what defines people. Someone that really loves their craft and it defines who they are, I think that's beautiful.
Are we possibly looking at the beginning stages of a post-musical career for you? Are you going to write a cookbook or open a restaurant?
I would love to have a show like Guy Fieri's show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — a cross between that and No Reservations. I don't want to do all the exotic stuff that (Anthony) Bourdain does, but I would like to have a show where I go to American haunts. But I don't know that I have any future on the Food Network, because I'm tattooed and I have long hair and I probably look unappetizing to the modern American housewife.