Music and food share similarities as forms of art. Passion drives both, and as such, you'll have true practitioners of their crafts in the forms of master musicians and master chefs. Anything of lesser honor or execution can immediately be relegated to the arenas of "top 40" drivel or the fast-food wasteland. You wouldn't commission an operatic libretto from Justin Bieber the same way you wouldn't trust a coq au vin to some pimply teenager at the burger joint.
In South Florida, many of the kitchens are filled with chefs, cooks, and preparers who also perform music. Anthony Bourdain might've referred to kitchen staff as "pirates" or "pirate-like" in his 2000 memoir, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and he wasn't too far from the mark. There's something about the heat of a stage or a kitchen that just draws a certain type of person in.
One of the newer trucks joining the tricounty scene is İpek's Wykked Kitchen, manned by İpek "Warnock" Bilgin, the longtime frontwoman of South Florida extreme metal outfit Wykked Wytch. We had a chance to discuss music and Turkish food with her and in the process learned of early pop stardom in her native Turkey and what one bad dish can do to a person.
New Times: Talk to us about being a pop singer in Turkey when you were a teen and how you transitioned into heavy metal.
İpek Bilgin: When I first got started, I trained in opera and then began singing pop as a teen. I was lucky and had a hit single in my teenage years, but I was a one-hit wonder, and that faded out. Then soon after, I came to the U.S., originally settling in Los Angeles, and found my true passion in hard rock and heavy metal. Then I got into extreme metal.
What was the song?
Music's been working out, but your passion for food led you to becoming a chef. What was that like, and where have you trained?
I've been cooking for myself since I was 12 years old. I went on a vacation and experienced some bad food, and since then I've been cooking for myself and creating my own signature dishes fusing all types of cuisine for years, just now taking it to next level, which is doing it professionally.
What happened on that vacation?
I went to Büyükada as a teenager and experienced some nasty, greasy stuffed cabbage where we were staying. That's when I decided that I'll just cook for myself and my family. I bought myself some eggs, tomatoes, and peppers. The first dish I remember making was a traditional Turkish breakfast dish called menemen. It's a scrambled-egg-style dish with lots of veggies and flavors.
Many folks in the food industry are also musicians; what do you think is the connection between the two?
I think you can consider both music and food, arts. In the arts, creativity and passion are usually the driving force. You always have those that are the most technically proficient in any area without that drive, but the best stuff always comes from the heart.
What prompted your decision to start a food truck, and what are your goals with it?
My day job working in an office was driving me crazy. I felt like I was wasting my life away. I needed to start my own business, but mixed with my other passion for food. Then I was thinking about all the great food that I experienced overseas during touring and back in Istanbul and decided on the food concept. Unfortunately, music was never paying the bills full time, so by operating the truck, I hope this will let me have the balance with music again as well.