Spirit Animal Cooks Us Dinner (Sort of)

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You probably already know this about me, but I love to eat. So when the band Spirit Animal launched their Kickstarter project last week — offering personalized dinners in exchange for contributions to their tour fund — it was all of four milliseconds before I had dashed off an exclamation point laden email begging for a recipe. Frontman/head chef Steve Cooper must be used to this kind of attention, because he took it perfectly in stride. “There is something similar about making art and making food,” he kindly explained to me. “Or maybe food at some level is just art anyway.” One glance at the pan-seared pork chop above, and I’ll have to admit I agree.

You can check out the pork-chop recipe (and a mini Q&A with Steve!) below. Support the project here.

Pan-seared Pork Chop with Kalamata Olives, Pancetta, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers


2 Pork Chops
8 Kalamata or other black olives, pitted and diced
6 cherry tomatoes, diced
4 slices Pancetta, diced
1 tbsp Capers

grapeseed oil
olive oil
black pepper

To Make:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using oven-safe pan, heat 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (alternatively, use canola. Just avoid olive oil as it does not handle the needed high heat as well). Lightly salt and pepper Pork Chops. When the oil is just shy of smoking, place Pork Chops in pan, searing first side. In separate pan, heat 2 tbps olive oil. Flip Pork Chops, searing 2nd side, and remove pan from heat, placing it in oven to cook through. Place pancetta in heated olive oil pan until it begins to crisp and darken, 3-4 minutes. Add olives, 1 minute. Remove from heat, toss with cherry tomato, capers, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp of black pepper and another generous tbsp of olive oil (this way it will run down the sides of the Pork Chop when you dress it). When Pork Chop is cooked through, remove from oven, plate and pour olive/pancetta/tomato/caper relish over top. Serve with roasted fingerling potatoes, carrots or another vegetable you love.

How did you end up combining your passions of cooking and music?

There is something similar about making art and making food, or maybe food at some level is just art anyway.  The difference is … you destroy it as soon as possible!  Food culture has just grown into this super hip thing so you find a lot of people who are into forward-thinking music are also into chasing down food secrets and being a part of that community. It’s all just one big celebration, so it’s key not to make it into an exclusive thing, to share all recipes and try to bring as many people to great stuff (be it music or food) as possible.

What was the inspiration behind this particular dish? Let me know how you came up with it!

There is a restaurant in D.C. called 1905 — on 9th St NW — that we went to one night before our show at DC9.  At the time they had a scallop starter with a sort of relish on it of capers and pancetta.  I actually don’t really remember the exact dish.  But, I know that I went home and tried to make it and modify it. I kind of like the idea of forgetting exactly how it happened, what was in it, where it came from — there’s a newness about it each time that way and you aren’t constantly longing for the past, or how your mama made it, or some sort of nostalgia to enjoy it.  You just taste it all over again.

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