From Punk Rock to Red Velvet: The Story of Auntie Em’s Kitchen

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Photo by Danny Hole

Before there were cupcakes there was punk rock.

In 1991, Terri Wahl was an avid home cook. By day, she consumed food magazines and poured over cookbooks.

By night, she played guitar and screamed into microphones about everything from boys to roller skating. Her all-girl punk band, The Red Aunts, was a self-taught crew of four who were quickly swooped up by Epitaph, a label known for punk rock acts like Rancid, NOFX andPennywise.

While on tour in the US, Wahl and her band mates cooked for the people who housed them and asked the locals where to find the best regional eats. “That’s what our tours were all about,” she tells KCRW’s Evan Kleiman. “They were more eating tours than going on tour to play music.”

The girls found crab cakes in Baltimore and discovered the charm of the Waffle House in the Midwest.

Europe was even better. “It was unbelievable,” she says. “Unlike the United States, [in] Europe they put a feast out for you at the venues when you get there. They treated us like queens.” In Lyon, she remembers a meal of rabbit and couscous served alongside French wines. By comparison, most venues in the States offered a disappointing spread of bologna and cheese. (Take a listen to the interview here)

When The Red Aunts disbanded in 1998, Wahl pursued her passion for food and launched a catering business. From there she opened Auntie Em’s Kitchen in Eagle Rock which has evolved into a neighborhood institution known for market driven comfort food served up daily from 8 am to 4pm.

Her first publication, The Auntie Em’s Cookbook: A Musician’s Guide to Breakfast & Brunch, melds her passion for food and music.

Each recipe comes with a song recommendation and she includes a playlist for every season in the back of the book. Her famous Red Velvet Cupcakes are paired with Ruby by Boss Hog, while the chocolate chip cookies below require some slide guitar.

Preorder The Auntie Em’s Cookbook here! And keep an eye out for The Red Aunts Greatest Hits vinyl launching this summer.