New Jersey-native Jessie Baylin may be a professional musician, but she might as well have been a professional chef. Wife of Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill and friends with notable celebrities (Scarlett Johansson, musician Jack Antonoff, and Torrey DeVito of Pretty Little Liars to name a few), Baylin was raised in a foodie family. Currently she resides in Nashville where she and her adorable toddler Violet explore Music City’s budding culinary scene.
In between performing at the Fleetwood Mac Festival and Troubadour in Los Angeles, Baylin shared her culinary opinions with Spoon University.
Spoon University (SU): What inspired you to become a foodie?
Jessie Baylin (JB): I was born into a food obsessed Italian family. When I was a teenager I started going to high school in New York City and that is when the obsession was kicked into overdrive. I started sneaking into great restaurants around the city and sitting at the bar and ordering whatever I could afford.
SU: What’s the culinary situation like when touring?
JB: I plan ahead a few meals before we roll into a city – and I like to ask the bartenders at great spots where they go to eat, and we usually find ourselves trying a few local gems. I think people that work in the food industry are really tapped into where you will experience great food and service.
SU: Favorite hometown restaurant? Favorite item on their menu?
JB: City House in Nashville, TN. I think what Tandy has been doing for the past decade is really special and will never go out of style for me. My favorite item on the menu would have to be the margherita pizza. The menu is always changing but this one will never leave. The dough is right, the sauce is perfect, the cheese homemade. This is my kryptonite and I love a classic.
SU: Favorite fast food restaurant?
JB: In & Out. Didn’t even have to think about that one.
SU: Favorite food-centric city?
JB: Portland, Oregon. I’ve never not had a great meal in that city.
SU: What’s your favorite family recipe? Why?
JB: My father and his sisters all make their own variation of meatballs. I love all of them and would hate to have to choose.
SU: Speaking of family, your husband is a drummer for the band Kings of Leon and they have been hosting the Music City Food + Wine Festival for several years now. What’s the experience like and what do you enjoy most about it?
JB: If you are into food it is quite possibly the most exciting weekend of the year. I enjoy every moment of the festival but my favorite part would have to be Harvest Night. The chefs really present some incredible dishes. I always attempt to sample each one but have to bow out around 11 courses. I can tell you that you will not go hungry or thirsty at Music City Food & Wine.
SU: One food item that you would consider your “weakness” or guilty pleasure?
JB: Thinly sliced mortadella.
SU: One culinary specialty of yours that is a definite crowd-pleaser?
JB: I want to say… my roasted vegetable lasagna.
SU: One superfood you find underrated/that you think everyone should get on board with?
JB: Pickles! You can pickle just about anything and they’re filled with probiotics.
SU: One superfood you find overrated?
JB: I support the idea that food is medicine, so to me there isn’t an overrated superfood.
SU: One food trend that you think needs to make a comeback?
JB: Hmm… Poppyseed dressing? I love a good, 80’s inspired salad.
SU: If you could share a meal with a table full of dead-or-alive musicians who would it be, what would be on the menu, and which meal would you serve it at (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner)?
JB: It would be a female power lunch with Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Stevie Nicks. The menu would include chopped salads, roast chickens, and martinis.
SU: If you had the option to choose, what would your last supper be?
JB: A long, leisurely lunch at Lo Scoglio in Nerano, Italy.