While Q-Tip may have left his wallet in El Segundo, his bandmate Jarobi White came back from the West Coast with a great idea. Somewhere between their first and second albums the fourth member of A Tribe Called Quest took a sabbatical from the group to attend culinary school and pursue his dreams of becoming a chef.
“For me honestly, the thing I like about food and cooking is the parallels to the music industry. You’re only as good as your last record and you’re only as good as your last plate,” Jarobi says with sweat beading up on his brow. Two grills are fired up behind him as he is prepping for his second “Tribe Taco Tuesdays” event at Bed-Vyne Cocktail in Brooklyn, NY. It’s one of several events his company “Eats Rhymes & Life” will be hosting this summer. “The sense of immediate satisfaction. You put on your beat and people start nodding their head immediately. You pick up that fork and put it in your mouth the reaction is automatic. If the song is not good or the plate is not good you have the opportunity right away to make another one. That’s why it’s so attractive to me.”
White is joined by Crazy DJ Bazarro of Da Beatminerz, Don Will of Tanya Morgan and DJ Sylk on the turntables spinning classics while people sip and sample his culinary creations. Jarobi took a few minutes out of his prep time to offer some insight into his cooking excursions.
WatchLOUD: When did you first discover your love of cooking?
Jarobi White: I started cooking out of necessity because my mother worked crazy hours so I had to cook for me and my little brother. I didn’t really watch a lot of TV, I watched a lot of PBS, Julia Child, Martin Yan, Justin Wilson, “Frugal Gourmet” is my all time favorite. That’s how I got the love.
What did you start cooking first?
A whole bunch of nasty stuff. What I used to do was I used to collect money from my friends and cook for everybody at the hooky parties. That’s where I honed my skills, they were my guinea pigs. Phife Dawg and if you are familiar with Tribe, Steve from Home Depot, that was our little crew and we’d cook.
When did you leave Tribe to attend culinary school?
I left somewhere between first and second album, beginning of second album. I went to NY Tech in Central Islip and studied culinary arts, how to become a chef. I left before the hotel management part, because that didn’t interest me at all. I just wanted to cook.
We’re at the second week of Taco Tuesdays. Why Tacos?
I went to this club in L.A. and my boy DJ Adam 12 was DJing. We were drinking and sh*t and we went to the back and they were serving tacos. And I noticed on social media people were doing Tribe Tuesdays, so I said “Tribe Taco Tuesdays” that’s what I’m gonna do this summer. We’re starting at Bed-Vyne cocktail in Brooklyn 305 Halsey, if you wanna come down. We’re doing it every other tuesday. Today I’m doing grilled cod tacos, shitake mushroom, pork belly tacos and falafel tacos. I gotta hook up my vegan people. I even got two grills so nobody complains. I got help this time. I tried to do too much by myself last time.
Any plans to open a restaurant or a food truck?
Yeah it’s going to be a A Tribe Called Quest themed food truck. Pull up at the festivals, parties. If someone is doing a concert I can just pull up. Some of my friends own restaurants and I’m gonna part outside their places and start a war. Food beef .[laughs]
When I heard about you cooking it reminded me of “Ham and Eggs” from People’s Instinctive Travels. What do you remember about making that song?
That was a funny song. We heard the beat and we wanted to talk about food on a song. That was back in the day when everybody started being more aware and Afrocentric, “I’m not eating no pork.” But I’m not vegan. I’m a chef so I have to taste everything. I try to eat healthy-ER. But I will eat some ribs. I’m not scared of it.
You also have a food related project with your girlfriend Sinnamon Love called Canela’s Kitchen. What inspired that?
My girl Sinnamon Love is a great cook in her own respect. Her niche is gluten free cooking. Last year we found out she was gluten intolerant and she thought it was gonna be a struggle. And we said no, we’re gonna take everything people like to eat and make it gluten free.
The cooking doesn’t mean you’ve given up on music though. Talk about EvitaN.
That is a group that consists of me and Dres from Black Sheep. He had a label situation and kept asking me to do this album and at first I was like ‘nah,’ but I got to the point where I felt I was blocking my blessings and within an hour or two he called me and said “lets do this album” and I’m like “ok cool.” Initially it was just going to be me doing an EP. But Dres said since this is your first foray back into hip-hop I’m gonna do this song with you. I played the song for Q-Tip and he said y’all should be a group. At first Dres said “hey, slow down” but we just started recording songs that got better and better. Before you knew it we had 30 songs and we didn’t have a name until we were 6 or 7 songs in. Since we’re the Native Tongues we should incorporate the word Native and we thought “NATive backwards, “EvitaN.” We’re working on the second album now that should be out at the end of the year.