The rise of Action Bronson is one of hip-hop’s favorite recent success stories. A chef in a former life, the Flushing-raised rapper has become a cult icon after trading stints in the kitchen cooking for the New York Mets and serving up top-notch albums and mixtapes. Naturally, Bronson’s raps are liberally peppered with references to foodstuffs; the video to an early fan favorite, 2010’s “Shiraz,” features Bronson and cohorts gallivanting in a park with a batch of prosciutto and olives he picked up from a store along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Feasting and dancing ensues.
Since the “Shiraz” days, Bronson’s stock has boomed, and he now spends his days touring the world and packing out venues. Handily, this has also allowed the bearded man’s infatuation with food to prosper, with his Instagram account becoming a shining smorgasbord of sustenance. Bronson’s food porn pics also prove that his palette is happy to hop from the hyper-gourmand to the hole-in-the-wall — the dishes he presents become a snapshot of his travels as he pairs high-end, artistically-plated sushi with street food sluiced with sauces dripping from his hand.
In salute to Action Bronson’s culinary rap adventure, here’s the ultimate tasting menu sourced from the hip-hop chef’s own most favored chow. (Recommended dining guest: Riff Raff.) Bon appetite!
1. Roasted Chanterelle Mushroom Soup
As a palette-prepping jump-off dish, take a cue from the impromptu tasting menu Bronson experienced at chef Stephane Jego’s Parisian bistro L’Ami Jean and plump for a roasted mushroom soup. Freshly chopped chives are a must.
2. Duck Prosciutto
First known as a pizza spot (and later for appearing in Lena Dunham’s “Girls”), Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn also serves more adventurous dishes and sides. It’s from this part of the establishment’s repertoire that Bronson feasted on duck prosciutto — a fine and smokey concoction to help build the menu’s momentum.
3. Humble Hummus
Bronson has stated that he likes to chow down on a bowl of hummus to kickstart his day. Taking a cue from that admission, here it’s thrown into the mix early to add some bulk to the opening part of the menu. Don’t be scared to ask for extra bread.
4. Fresh Live Uni
The popularity of sea urchin shows no signs of stopping. Bronson’s committed to the movement, having satiated his craving for the smooth briny taste at the Publican in Chicago. For his own tasting menu, it helps segue into a small seafood section.
5. Baby Octopus
So cute you can’t resist scarfing it down? Or so alien-looking you’re unsure it’s not going to start glowing in your tummy? Your call, but if you’re dining with the rap chef you’ll be getting up close and personal with some baby octopus.
6. Clams In Foie Gras Broth
Along with his uni habit, Bronson frequently enjoys the appeal of foie gras, the deliberately-over-fattened duck liver. Here it beds half a dozen clams. Mopping up the broth with bruschetta is the proper etiquette.
7. Wild-Sockeye Salmon Sushi
Bronson’s accountant must balk at the rapper’s dining bills — especially when he engages on one of his sushi splurges. When he hit up Vancouver’s waterfront spot Miku, he indulged in a pressed wild-sockeye salmon piece that he was moved to describe as “next level.” Dining conversation topic: Would acclaimed sushi maven Jiro approve of the flamboyant use of jalapeño?
8. Scallion Pancake With Short Ribs And Apple
Signaling the end of the seafood run, Bronson’s tasting menu ushers in an exquisite take on the scallion pancake — here topped with short ribs and perked up by the use of green apple matchsticks.
9. Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts
The Action Bronson tasting menu is not for those who are wary of a carnivorous lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean a wholesale exclusion of vegetables. Here Bronson embraces his love of the other type of greenery with a hearty bowl of pan-seared brussels sprouts pepped up with bacon. As he claimed on his Instagram account, “The past few days I’ve been on a legendary culinary streak.”
10. Roasted Carrots
Can food become art? That’s the burning question posed with the presentation of the next vegetable course, a stack of roasted carrots.
11. Roasted Yellow Beets
Keeping with the lessons in vegetable literacy, next up is a dish of roasted golden beets sprinkled with fragments of pistachios. The Italian heritage of the additional cherry mostarda helps usher in the next segment of the food marathon.
12. Cavatelli with Truffles
After the seafood and vegetable run, it’s time to address that hankering for some carbs with a few pasta dishes. First up is a batch of cavatelli turned ornate with the finest of accouterments, truffles.
The classic combination of clams and pasta hits the white tablecloth next — a dish Bronson loves to order at chef Michael White’s Manhattan emporium Ristorante Morini. The addition of leeks and chili imbues the dish with a pleasing pep.
14. Truffle Tortellini
The truffle tribute continues with another dish inspired by Bronson’s experience at Ristorante Morini — truffle tortellini.
15. Lamb Soup
Bronson’s home stomping grounds of Flushing, Queens offer up a soothing respite from the carb attack with a lamb soup sourced from Golden Mall, the Asian street food mecca. Keep slurping.
16. Hay-Scented Omelette
Perhaps doffing his hat to the foraging styles of acclaimed experimentalist chef Rene Redzepi, Bronson’s next dish literally goes back to the land as the humble omelette is infused with delicate hints of hay. The presentation is of course inspired.
17. Tomato Tart
Despite being a native New Yorker, Bronson has gone on record as proclaiming his love for Chicago’s deep-dish style of pizza. Such a hearty slab of dough is going to derail the tasting menu though — so let’s plump for the diminutive charms of a tangy tomato tart.
18. Ben’s Chili Bowl
Ever the culinary humorist, Bronson riffs on the previous course’s allusions to moderation by serving up a hearty bowl of chili from the famed Washington, D.C. landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl. The chili dog (“all meat”!) and chips are optional.
19. Miso Ramen
Demonstrating that the Action Bronson tasting menu isn’t only about glorious gluttony, the next course is another lighter palette cleanser: A shimmering bowl of miso ramen soup. “Food for the soul,” explains Bronson via his Instagram. Don’t doubt the man.
20. Seared Tuna
Another savvy segue, as Bronson follows up the ramen soup with the clean-cut charms of a perfectly seared piece of tuna. The plating presentation nods to the modern pristine lines of Bronson’s own graffiti tag.
21. Roasted Pigeon
Coyly contrasting with the water-dwelling status of tuna fish, the next dish takes to the skies as the ultimate urban bird is roasted to crispy refinement. Infusing the menu with another layer of continuity, it is served with “foie gras of the canard.”
22. Bird Pie
With the menu building to its hearty savory climax, the English comfort food classic of bird pie is rolled out — this time served in an upscale fashion and housing an egg with a perfectly-cooked yolk.
The dish pairs smartly with the airy appeal of Bronson and Riff Raff’s “Bird On A Wire.”
23. Kobe Beef
A powerhouse statement of intent for the menu’s savory pinnacle, as Action Bronson rolls out an imported piece of beef sourced from wagyu cattle in Japan. Simple, bold, and with an exotic under-layer.
Smarter than your average rapping gourmand, Bronson makes a coquettish pit-stop before skipping into his tasting menu’s desert section with the appearance of an impressively-formed piece of concon. You too will believe a crust of rice can taste this luxurious.
25. Buddha’s Hand Granita
The sweet kicks begin with a delectable-looking Buddha’s Hand granita, a citron fruit that in its natural state looks like a freakishly deformed hand. It’s laced with coconut milk to accentuate the zesty flavor.
26. Salted Carmel Popcorn Pudding
With a wink to the umami flavors that defined earlier parts of his tasting menu, Action Bronson’s second desert course fuses the sweet charms of caramel with hints of sea-salt. Consider it a seasonal Starbucks beverage in formal form.
27. Ice-Cream Split
Disappointed at the diminutive nature of the previous two sweets? Pucker up as you’re about to be hit with a humungous ice-cream split sourced locally from the old-timey soda fountain spot Eddie’s Sweet Shop in Queens.
28. Fried Oreos
The Action Bronson tasting menu is an elegant adventure. It features meticulously sourced ingredients and allies them with ornamental presentation. Its lasting note, though, taps into the everyman humor that underscores Bronson’s appeal, with the final dish being an all-you-can-eat bowl of fried Oreo cookies. “Let the hate begin,” quips chef Bronson — although at this point a food-coma nap might be more likely.