Jan. 22, 2022

Part I Magic in The Kitchen with The Singing Chef™



Andy LoRusso is known all over the globe as The Singing Chef and is a best selling author, recording artists Celebrity Chef and entertainer. He's performed and cooked for 1000s of people on stage in places all over the world, including the Isle of Wight Festival in England, Istanbul and even in my hometown, Seattle, Washington. He's become a great friend and he has an incredible story to tell. He is a passionate supporter and advocate for The Dystonia-Foundation.

In part one, we are immediately immersed into Andy's world and learn what it's like growing up in an Italian American family. We follow him along and discover how he combined singing and cooking at an early age. He shares how being on the Donny Marie show elevated his career. Pull up a virtual seat at our chef's table as we connect with Celebrity Chef Andy LoRusso. 

Connect to: http://www.singingchef.com

Support:https://dystonia-foundation.org/

Our website: https://www.voice4chefs.com/

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MichaelDugan)

Transcript

Andy LoRusso:

Today on the show, I want you to meet a special guest and my friend Andy LoRussoThe Singing Chef. Hes Italian an epic recording artists and he's a chef. In part one, we are immediately immersed into Andy's world and learn what it's like growing up in an Italian American family. We follow him along and discover how he combined singing and cooking at an early age. He shares how being on the Donny Marie show elevated his career. Pull up a virtual seat at our chef's table as we connect with Celebrity Chef Andy LoRusso. Andy, welcome to the show. Michael, thank you so much. What a season we're having isn't this great? I'll tell you there's so much love in here. And of course, the smell and so much good cooking good food. Oh, man, I'm just I'm just so turned on. But what can I say my whole life has been turned on by, by food and by people like yourself and, and people who just give, give, give, give so much of their time and support the world, which is what it's all about. Yay.

Michael Dugan:

I know. I have to agree with you. And clubhouse is a place where we met and we became friends really quick. In fact, I asked if you would sing at my wife's birthday party. And when you said yes, I couldn't believe it. And you were like, sure.

Andy LoRusso:

Oh, it was virtual. But that's fine. Yeah.

Michael Dugan:

So anyway, thank you for that.

Andy LoRusso:

It's very fortunate to be able to have both of my grandparents on both sides, my father's side, and my mother's side. My mother's side came from Sicily. And my father's side came from Potenza, which is Basilicata, which is just above Calabria, which is in the south of Sicily, of Italy. And so I grew up with both of the cultures of both of the regional ideas and of cooking so on and so forth. Of course, my grandmother grace, my mother's mother would make all the Sicilian specialties, usually around the holidays, Christmas, especially Easter. And sometimes we would, we would also go there for New Year's Eve, she would make all the specialties that she bought over recipe wise from Sicily, that I tried to put as much good boxing and cook Italian. On my grandfather's side. My grandfather didn't cook on my father's side, but my Dad cooked my dad, my dad did a lot of cooking in the home, he was a veteran, your mom worked a lot got some of the recipes from my dad. And I put those in my second cookbook in 2017 Singing cookbook anymore. So continuation of The Singing Chef, so to speak. So growing up in that in that family tradition, we always shared family picnics, every year the family would grow, you would see the photograph, somebody had two babies or more. And when you go and went down to my grandma's kitchen, you would always see see these photos from the year before on the wall. And as the family grew, it larger and larger and larger. How the connect the connection was very strong as it is still to this day or some of them are in heaven now. But it was a wonderful experience is very enriching, to live with my grandparents or at least know my grandparents growing up and it was really, really a key experience for me today as what I do as a The Singing Chef. Yeah, that's amazing. Did you travel at all? As a kid? Or did you stay in one place? No, pretty much stayed stayed in one place. I at the same time I rode my bicycle around New Jersey where I was raised. Newark, New Jersey and Vailsburg specifically. But no, I didn't really travel. The only traveling we did was during the summer months where it was very humid. My dad mom and I and my brother we would get in our Chevy. I forgot what year it was. And we would drive up to our country cabin, so to speak, it was It wasn't even a home it was a cabin. At that time, no running water, but it was good, you know, an hour and a half away. That was sort of like a family area, which was wonderful. So that that's of course the Jersey Shore. Oh, worse to the Jersey Shore. And my grandma grace and my grandpa. They would usually rent the house for a month or two. And of course you'd be cooking all day meatballs and we've had spaghetti you know ravioli and brajole your beef meat and veal and things she would cook for us. So that's you know, the Jersey Shore was a wonderful swimming there. The Jersey Shore walking the boardwalk was eating the sausage and pepper sandwiches, the North soft ice cream and the pizzas that was really ingrained to me. You know pre teenage years. Going down the Jersey Shore with my mom again. My brother came yet my brother would join us to the state with my grandma from Sicily down there. That was wonderful. So those are the trips that I took. I lived in Jersey as well. What part? Basking Ridge, which was a small town outside of Morristown. Oh, yeah.

Michael Dugan:

Remember, I took several trips to the Jersey Shore. It was very, very memorable. So moving on. As you grew up, it seems like you developed an affinity to singing and cooking. And I see from research that you were an epic recording artist. Also, as you said before, you've authored several cookbooks and you've traveled all over the world in your career. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Andy LoRusso:

Yes, the singing actually came naturally. When I came out of the womb, my mouth was wide open. I was going ah, and my mother said, You better feed this kid, you know, he's going to be a singer. My family, especially on my mom's side, they were all musical. My uncle who I was confirmed by Phillip. Was a musician as well as a barber. And he would play on weekends in bands. And he was one of my inspirations. My mom bought my uncle's first guitar he gave me and I started playing guitar, always singing, always doing something singing. My brother was invited to the Metropolitan Opera. And before he got married to audition for the Metropolitan Opera, he's he was a

Unknown:

When I came out of the womb My mouth was wide open and I was going oh my god audition for the Metropolitan Opera he's ever done And so he's saying he would sing at home My uncle's my cousins accordions At the film picnics I would play a snare Wrong family picnics we had an upgrade Bass cello guitars symbols. So there was a harmonica my dad play harmonica. So there was always something going on musically especially at family gathering Then I started as I grew during pre High School years standing on the street corners. Listening to groups similar to Frankie Valli although he was there he wasn't standing on a street corner. Listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. As they grew with notoriety. Having people would go under the tunnels sing with the echo. Singing on the street tunnels under the streets going into the parks. Always sing something but mostly acapella chiming up with the groups up by the candy stores. And you know having the girls around listening to us chewing gum Bubble gum and drining the Yooho chocolate sodas. That's how I grew up and over the years good friends of mine started bands they had instruments so we decided to start a band. We started to play. Hops For high schools possibly some colleges since then I had a band I was traveling with to you Union City New Jersey. One of the managers really liked my voice. Hey come here you know I'd like to introduce you to A writer that is where with Leslie Gore were to hit on the charts called it's my party he's looking for talent. Introduce to Epic records so introduce to this gentleman his name John Glock. I went to New York audition for him and sang a few songs. He took me over to epic records. I met one I have to have that top writers at the time Linzer and Randell. Who were on The Charts with The Toys Lovers Concerto they took the Lovers Concerto with music put words to it in The Toys we're probably on top 10. They want To find more out Artists so they had Gary Puckett and the union gap at that time start out and they gave me a few songs. One of which was recorded by Brazil Sixty Six they gave me fool on a hill. Which is written for basically about Maharishi who was also my teacher meditation. Maharishi Meshi Yogi fool on a hill with the sun going round. With the eyes in his head and sees the world spinning round. They gave me that to learn they also gave me Young Girl which was eventually recorded by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. The vocalists that were on the charts at the time were BJ Thomas hooked on a feeling.

Andy LoRusso:

Oh I loved him

Unknown:

Hooked on a feeling and also Tom Jones they heard my voice as a similar solo artist. A tenor in a very powerful voice. So they gave me a couple R&B songs to sing. We chose a stage name Palmer Jones on my record at the time with Epic Records. I went into the studio and I recorded the Great Magic of Love and Dancing Master which was the B side. I started to do a high school hops and radio hops. Traveling around New Jersey in the tri city area. Singing that had some radio play. We had a 20 peice orchestra musicians with one of the top arrangers that came over from Atlantic Records to do the studio date. It was wonderful I mean I was really flying hi. I don't remember my age specificly. I was pre 20's but it was really a wonderful experience for me to be appreciated for my voice and to see the process. How these recording sessions at time especially Atlantic Records they had you know Aretha Franklin was just starting out.

Michael Dugan:

oh my gosh

Unknown:

The Four Tops and motown was just starting to come up so Epic records really wanted a Motown Sound and if people listen my song. The great magic of love they We'll hear that most beat on both sides of the song. That they wanted to create. Unfortunately it didn't become a big big seller but is was a great learning experience and it was really exciting.

Michael Dugan:

That's amazing story from singing to cooking. How did that transition come together?How did that create the recipe for success for your career?

Unknown:

Well Michael the eating as always been a big part of my growing up in an Italian American family. The day we didn't have something that was home made fresh. We always had. The vendor was always around the corner with a fresh fruit and vegetable cart. If the garden wasn't blooming which sometimes It was but being in New Jersey. We had the winters and grandma would can and jar things. During summertime the vegetables we're always there. Back then everything was most Organic I mean now of course it's so certified organic you know about everything was fresh right out of the garden the vendors would come around with the carts. We would have the milk man. The milk was so creamy and rich. They would put the couple bottles. Maybe one bottle of chocolate two bottles of regular milk on the back porch in a little container that that. The milk jar fit in and we'd open up in get this fresh milk that had the cream on the top We had the garden we always had the jersey beef steak tomatoes growing, lettuce of course and My other uncle had the eggplants. So we would always have fresh food that was a very abundant especially during the summer. So we were always doing something whether it was at my my grandmother's house. When she was a big inspiration for me it was my first cookbook Singin and Cook Italian. Seeing her how she prepared everything for fresh how she made the sauces. I tried to get her take on Sausage and Fennel Sauce. Was one of my sauces as much as I could from what I remember her doing in front of the stove. The tomatoes the Italian tomatoes some of the homemade sauces that she put in the hot chilli flakes. We have the hot chili flakes peppers You know the garlic The extra virgin olive oil. The meats that you put in. Try to get that into Grandma's Sausage and Fennel Sauce. Inspired by being close to my family close My grandparents and eating fresh food As much as possible no no frozen Very few Frozen things we got at the time that really inspired me you In my career Too To look up some of my grandmas recipes trying to capture some of that magic. That she made for us. Especially with the Italian cookies and the cakes. We were talking about

Andy LoRusso:

Definetly oh my gosh In some of the sphere nose are in my cookbook by first Come with me second Are that that she would make And the cookies Hi And What is S v Dell Shree, Adele It's basically similar to it's like a filo

Michael Dugan:

Wow. See now, I knew scheduling this around

Andy LoRusso:

What happened was after my first cookbook came lunchtime would be a mistake. I am so hungry for your food and out, I just wanted to do more of what I've been doing a wonderful dough likeness. And it's filled with a sweet ricotta, with going along in your career, you just become an epic artist and you're thinking about how much you love cooking and you blend transition that happened was I was still doing some gigs, so to the two together to to come up with any kind of fork in the orange zest, and maybe Citrons with eggs and then baked right speak, musically. And then I was traveling to do an Italian into this shell that looks like a clam, okay, and it's very festival because my first cookbook had come out and I had flaky, and you roll it out in a sheet, and then you fill it with the ricotta and then you cut it into these little clam shaped, gotten a call from one of the segment producers on the Donnie triangular, triangular, if you will, shapes then you bake them, & Marie show that was being that was being filmed. Taped in Sony and you put powdered sugar on them. Show you daddy, it's very Neapolitan, actually from Naples. Grandma used to make it studios. So I talked to them, they talked to me. We worked out also. It was a wonderful, wonderful treat. something and went down to Sony drove down as soon as that's why I was living in Santa Barbara anyway, so that was why and we did sing a cricket tion which is basically using the tune to finically for Nicola which is a public domain song. And putting the recipes for the ingredients to it. And that became a big smash for the Donnie & Marie show. Then they invited me out back to do Sing and Cook Mexicana in Sing and Cook French. It was a real big turning point. There was a fork in the road. It was something that showed me that I was on the right path. Michael showed me that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing in life and giving others not only myself so much joy, especially Italian Americans, but everybody that came here that had grandparents like I did thinking here with pretty much nothing looking for a better life in this in this country for the children so that really to me was a very big inspiration. When I was asked to work with Donnie & Marie when I'm on that show. It was really a nice pat on the back for me saying you're on the right track, buddy. Keep it up. Yeah, that's amazing. You know, I grew up with them. They were such an inspiration as a child to dream and to think about, you can do anything. They were so welcoming to the cast to the audience. There is so much energy between the two of them. I always remembered that I'm really glad that you had that opportunity.

Michael Dugan:

That's pretty incredible. Voice4Chefs is about

Andy LoRusso:

Yeah, it was a blessing for sure for me

Michael Dugan:

As we move on. Did you study to become a singer? Did you study to become a cook to go to school? Did you do anything unique?

Andy LoRusso:

Well, regarding my singing when I decided to put a cookbook together with the audio team, which came out in 1991 I was still singing like coming gigs or small bars and restaurants with a trio. I also sang standards, you know like misty and different things like that. But I wanted to sing. I wanted to learn something I wanted to But they came with like to sing while they were I was getting a chiropractic adjustment up in Ohi where I was living at the time in California which is north of Santa Barbara inland in the mountains where the orange groves are and the beautiful smell of fresh lemon trees and things like that up in the hills. At the chiropractic adjustment. The chiropractor very nicely very, very successful, well known chiropractor asked me what I was doing, you know what I wanted to achieve and so on and so forth. I told her I was praying together and I was putting some music together and I had the arranger pretty much thought of and she said well you know there's a lady in the next room that is getting massages. Her name is Wendy and she's studying with this famous for Coach. Maybe you should talk with her after you finish showing did I poor In a CD have audio taped together at this songs in mind and I want To get a vocal coach. Well I'm studying with one of the top vocal coaches. She's 88 years young. Oh my god this was the Metropole Dinajpur she knew and Rachael Cruz Her family did and she studied You've traveled with Mary Alonza doors To have the tobacco fame She only takes A few amount of students and they said to her well i said When can I see She says well I'll have to ask her So what's your name's Ian Giovanni Giovanni they all for you You She lives in Ventura which was about A half hour down south south of where I was She called me back the next day she said Giovanni will love to see You love to meet you bring a cup songs that you can demo sing for her So I drove down to to venture I'll finally open the door and there was a special unifly dressed at eight years Young I would say very filled with life pearls earrings Very nicely dressed and hair was very nicely done. Then now Sitting at the Piano as she said come on in Andrew you know and I said Oh my god I'm so happy to see you I'm so excited. She says Andrew let me tell you why Thanks first of all excitement and Italian are one more

Michael Dugan:

Believe it And then

Andy LoRusso:

she said to me I want you to listen to what I'm going to teach you now I want you to forget whatever anybody else has ever taught you and just listen to what I say. And I want you to go out and I want you to sing beautifully because every note has a life of its own. It's a metaphysics he was very metaphysical says that we know that you sing stays in the ethers and travels through space. So go out and sing beautifully in touch people's hearts. With your music with your notes with your voice. And I'll always remember that. So that's where she had helped me develop my Be canto skills are my breathing so to speak told me about different parts of the body, the cheeks, the cheekbones, the muscles of the face, the back, the chest that the whole thing. Opening up the nostrils of the ears, the whole ortho language, laryngology type of thing, but she was very wonderful, and I was very fortunate to be under her tutelage while I was learning. The songs that I put on my audio tape or solo Mio Samba chia, Norma Folate on Discord Darlene a full recovery for eCola learning some of those songs from some of the buffer it audio tapes that I had and singing along with. That was that's what that's how it really started so that was pretty much my mobile career lessons. Regarding my cooking, it was always around grandma always around my dad, always around my mom. I took a couple classes you know, very, very small. My daughter was the one my daughter Betty who was given up for adoption. I found her after 30 years of being apart. She went to the Culinary Institute of America. The founder was a real unbelievable joy to know that she was also a chef working as a chef and pinyons in Aspen, Colorado when I met her so she she's very much trained classically in cooking however for me, sort of like a Rachael Ray, you know, to train and, you know, local classes, possibly of course, grandma's apron strings, it just learning from my hands so on and so forth. And then traveling, you know, working with other chefs and in some kitchens, you know, like in Istanbul or maybe in Italy, Canada, especially there and learning some of there techniques and skills.

Michael Dugan:

That is really amazing you got to travel around the world. and meet chefs. Can you share a little bit about?

Andy LoRusso:

Well basically you know I met Emeril before this food network really blew up his his career. He was out of Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas and he was very ambitious really. Just before he starting to take off the food network. I met Emeril and of course living in Santa Barbara I had the occasion to run into Julia Child's. Who was always at the Farmers Markets tasting food that's the organic vendor with farmers would give her to taste. Talking with her giving her a copy of my first cookbook with the

Andy LoRusso Profile Photo

Andy LoRusso

The Singing Chef TM

Andy LoRusso -- "The Singing Chef" -- is a best-selling author and cooking icon, thanks to the success and ongoing popularity of his timeless book, Sing and Cook Italian, and his unique cooking-cabaret shows. Since his childhood days in Newark, NJ, Andy has had a intrinsic gift for creating both music and food. He was extremely close with his large Sicilian family and recalls being in the kitchen as a child and watching his grandmother Grace cook. As soon as he was tall enough to reach the table, Andy was cooking meals for himself.
At the age of 22, Andy signed with Epic Records and recorded several popular jazz standards. Listen to The Singing Chef's first record: Side A - The Great Magic of Love and Side B - Dancing Master.
He later moved to California where he studied with world-renowned vocal coach, Giovanna d'Onofrio. Under Giovanna's tutelage, Andy studied all the arias and love songs of the great Italian composers. In 1991, Andy invented a way to combine his passion for music and food by cooking his family's best recipes to classic, beautiful love songs, and thus "The Singing Chef" was officially born!
In 2020 he released his long-awaited Home Style Premium Pasta sauces with the goal of giving back a portion of sales to the Dystonia-Foundation.org to help find a cure.