Jon Shook

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For Chef Jon Shook, the “pure ecstasy of cooking” is when he can get in the zone with good music in the kitchen. For his Guest DJ set, he connects with an outcast of the music world, a country musician who reminds him of home and chooses an ode to one of his favorite social activities. Jon and his business partner Vinny Dotolo were recently crowned Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine

and own LA hotspot Animal.


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Also, check out this episode of Good Food for an interview with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, owner-chefs of Animal on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles:






1. AC/DC - Thunderstruck


2. Ben Harper - Burn One Down


3. Bob Seger - Hollywood Nights


4. David Allan Coe - Longhaired Redneck


5. Eminem - If I Had






Dan Wilcox: Hi this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW and I'm here with chef Jon Shook. He starred on the Food Network show “Two Dudes Catering” along with business partner Vinny Dotolo and they are the owners of the popular LA restaurant Animal, as well as, from what I understand, being a strong bacon aficionado. We are going to be talking about music that has inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Welcome Jon…


John Shook: Hey, how are you guys?


Dan Wilcox: I'm good. I'm good. So Jon, what did you bring to share with us today?


Jon Shook: What I tried to do was think of 5 songs that were the most meaningful to me and that reminded me of time periods in my life. So, first I got AC/DC "Thunderstruck" -- which actually, believe it or not doesn't remind me anything of cooking, it reminds me of ice hockey. I didn't really have too much of a strong family relationship with my parents growing up and that was one thing that I really bonded with my dad over was ice hockey. I remember telling my dad that I was going to go to culinary school driving to an ice hockey game and he was like ‘what are you?’ And I was like ‘No dad, seriously, I want to cook. And he was like ‘alright, well, you know, I'm a little worried about this’ and then he went into this whole speech about ‘if you're not in the top 5% of the art field in your career then you're nothing.’ And he was always really hard on me, so whenever I hear that song it kind of reminds me of my Dad and the roads that I traveled to get to where I am now.


Song: AC/DC’s "Thunderstruck


Dan Wilcox: Jon, what is the next song you've got for us?


Jon Shook: Ben Harper, "Burn One Down."


Dan Wilcox: Great song.


Jon Shook: Most definite. When I moved to California -- the music scene out here is amazing -- and I was very fortunate to get to see Ben Harper actually perform with Jack Johnson not just at the Hollywood Bowl, but I followed them up and saw them in Santa Barbara and then up at The Greek up in Berkeley. So whenever that song came on it was like, right to my soul. It kind of hit the spot of one of the things I truly love to do.


Dan Wilcox: Which is burn one down.


Song: Ben Harper’s "Burn One Down"


Dan Wilcox: You guys have been really successful -- with your television show and your restaurant here in Los Angeles and your book -- at tapping what kind of might be called an underused market and that is gourmet food for kind of your average dude, I guess, for lack of a better word. Even to the point that you guys have been called the Jay and Silent Bob of the food world. How much does music play in creating that image and also maybe connecting with that audience?


Jon Shook: Well, I think for me, it's weird because when you’re cooking you're almost in prison, in a sense. There's no windows. The clocks are mostly timers, more so than actual times, so you don't burn anything. I think that when I'm listening to a song and I'm really connected with the song, I kind of get in this zone where all the other people that are cooking around me aren't there anymore and it's just me and the music and the food and I feel like it really helps me really connect with my product that I'm working with. That to me is like the pure ecstasy of cooking, when everything else is able to shut off. The more I have expanded in my food career there's a million phone calls and a million emails every day and people are all over you about a ton of questions so if you're able to kind of trap everybody out of your little world for a minute and just enjoy what you do, that's worth it's weight in gold.


Dan Wilcox: I'm sitting here with Chef Jon Shook just moving through a list of songs that have meant a lot to him throughout his life and career. So, what is the next song you've got for us?


Jon Shook: The next song that I picked is actually Bob Seger, "Hollywood Nights." And, you know, LA has been awesome for me. I actually moved out here with $500 bucks and Vinny had $500 bucks and I remember sitting around and…listen, we have had a lot of struggle to get to where we're at, it wasn't handed to us by any means. When I listen to that song it really makes me feel like this is my home, this is why I'm here and like, then I have memories of cooking at people's houses and looking down at the city and all the lights and it just, I really feel connected while I'm listening to that song.


Song: Bob Seger’s "Hollywood Nights"


Dan Wilcox: What else you got for us?


Jon Shook: I got David Allan Coe, "Long Hair Red Neck." Basically I picked that because I feel like -- I love Johnny Cash and you know, he might be one of my top picks as well, but he's not because I feel like everybody knows Johnny Cash -- and for me I think one of the true gospel country singers that really should be looked at more seriously and taken in the same way Johnny Cash was is David Allan Coe. I think a lot of his songs hit home for a lot of people, especially down in the South. Being from Florida I grew up with a lot of country so country has a big influence into my musical world as well.


Song: David Allan Coe’s "Long Hair Redneck"


Dan Wilcox: How did you first discover David Allan Coe or this song in particular?


Jon Shook: Growing up where I grew up was in Ormond Beach, which is just north of Daytona. Daytona Beach is notorious for Nascar, so like Nascar, country music, big trucks, farms is kind of the way I grew up. I didn't grow up underneath all the Hollywood lights. Which is funny, you know, that's probably why Bob Seger meant so much to me and picking these five songs I had to pick "Hollywood Nights" -- but when it came to something that was from my roots it had to be country and like I said I feel like Johnny Cash, everyone leans to him like a gospel country singer, and for me I think someone like David Allen Coe is someone that more hits home.


Dan Wilcox: What's the next track you've got for us Jon?


Jon Shook: I have Eminem, "If I Had." No matter how many times you listen to Eminem I think for me, it's almost like he's preaching to me, directly to me. I feel like a lot of his lyrics are a lot of my thoughts, a lot of my feelings. I also, knowing a little bit about Eminem, he's a white guy in a typically a hip hop world which is more of an African American kind of situation and he's from middle class America and he just busted into this field that, he's the outcast kind of in his field. And I feel that me and Vinnie both are kind of the outcasts of our world as well. You know, when we were on the Food Network show, I remember seeing thousands of emails of people complaining about our long hair but we were growing our long hair actually for wigs for kids. I think a lot of people call us rebels or whatever, but in my eyes I'm just normal. And I feel Eminem feels the same way when he's rapping. He’s like ‘It doesn't matter that I'm performing, I'm a lyricist and I can actually do what you guys do and it doesn't matter where I'm from or what color my skin is or how I am, I'm an artist.’ And that's how I feel about cooking.


SONG: Eminem’s "If I Had"


Dan Wilcox: Very cool, listen John it's been very cool sitting down and talking to you and listening to all these tracks you've shared with us. Thanks so much for joining us here at


Jon Shook: Thanks for having me.






Dan Wilcox