Q&A: Dave Chaitt from Backyard Brunch Sessions

Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo

When Dave Chaitt moved into a first-floor Williamsburg apartment with a grapevine-filled gazebo out back, he knew it was only a matter of time before he came up with some crazy idea as to how to take advantage of it. He was working in the music industry and had been hosting weekly pizza dinners as a sort of informal networking event at his previous apartment, and that connection between people and food set the groundwork for what’s now the Backyard Brunch Sessions. Starting in April 2010, Chaitt began inviting bands to come over and cook brunch with him, then play a short, intimate set outside to about 15-20 people. He found a partner to take care of the film work, and also befriended Dan Lynch of nyctaper, who now records audio of the performances.

I was invited to a session in the middle of this summer’s heat wave; where Chaitt cooked huevos rancheros with Johnny Ollsin, guitarist for the awesome Family Band (who happen to be eMusic Selects alums!), pictured above. Chaitt’s were made with fresh mozzarella, caramelized shallots and balsamic-soaked strawberries; Ollsin’s were with cotija cheese, cilantro, and broiled tomatillos, onions and jalapenos. And all of that was accompanied by McClure’s bloody marys, and amaaazing ice cream from Adirondack Creamery (my favorite was carrot cake spice). We watched XVSK and Family Band while we ate and tried not to melt (it was definitely worth braving the heat).

Backyard Brunch Sessions

I caught up with Dave a couple weeks ago to chat a bit more about his cooking history and what goes into each session.

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DIY Pop-Tarts with The Shondes (Inspired by Pat Benatar)

Every month or so, I’ll be partnering with one of my favorite local sites, Brooklyn Based, to bring you an exclusive song by a Brooklyn band, recorded at Nadim Issa’s state-of-the-art recording studio in Gowanus, Let ‘Em In Music. Then, I’ll create a recipe with — or inspired by — the featured artist. This month’s mp3 is The Shondes’ cover of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” (get the free mp3 and read my feature on them here), and here are the homemade Pop-Tarts I baked with drummer Temim Fruchter.

Homemade Pop-Tarts (recipe here)

When Shondes drummer Temim Fruchter and I were brainstorming what we could make inspired by Pat Benatar, she suggested Pop-Tarts as a nod to the ’80s (so, Pop-Tarts were actually introduced in the ’60s, but kind of like I associate creamsicles with the ’90s, Pop-Tarts are her ’80s) — not to mention the obvious pop pun, and sugary sweetness of that era’s music. While writing their new record, Searchlights, The Shondes spent a lot of time listening to ’80s pop/rock for its “punky, defiant exuberance,” she said. (You can read more about that over at <a href="Brooklyn Based.)

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Basil-Mint Watermelon Lemonade (Inspired by Beach Fossils)


Watermelon lemonade with lime, mint and basil (recipe here)

When it’s as hot as it is in New York this week (in the 80s and 90s, aka I AM MELTING IN MY APARTMENT AS I WRITE THIS), the only thing I can think about is watermelon. And now, I can assure you, the only thing I will ever think about during times like this is this drink. It’s inspired by the Brooklyn band Beach Fossils, whose music is equally fit for this weather; they’ve recently become my start-of-summer soundtrack. Their music is breezy and drenched in reverb, and while the songs have plenty of pep and energy, they never seem to be in too much of a hurry, which is exactly how I like to be in the summer. In their song “Lazy Day,” from last year’s self-titled debut, frontman Dustin Payseur sings, “Lazy today, lazy tonight and later on/ All we had to do was nothing at all, under the sun.” Sounds about right to me. Their recent record, What A Pleasure, isn’t as explicitly about the laziness of summer, but still has the same feeling. What a pleasure, indeed.
Beach Fossils on MySpace

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