To know Action Bronson is to love his vibe. The dude has an infectious energy, which he applies to just about everything he does, but most famously rapping, eating, getting stoned, traveling, and drinking (order those passions any way you want). While Bronson’s mountain man beard and body full of tats paint one picture (for the purveyor of lazy stereotypes), his bright eyes and natural politeness flip any “tough guy” perceptions on their head.
In the culinary world, the Flushing, Queens kid is Bourdain for the internet age. It’s not just food and drink and weed that he celebrates, it’s experiences. It’s this passion for experience over hype that prompted Olmeca Altos Tequila to hire him to kick off their six-city pop-up event series, The J. Hernandez and Sons Bodega. The tour/ roadshow is crossing the nation through the spring and summer — with Bronson hosting the LA event last week and the NYC stop in June.
After the LA pop up, we spoke with Action about his local Bodega man, scored a delectable Granita recipe, and he slipped us an exclusive for the title of his next cookbook.
So this pop up series is centered around setting up bodegas. Growing up in Queens, you’re no stranger to a good bodega…How important is that sense of community and connection?
I know my guys…first names. My soon-to-be wife has gone skydiving with her local bodega guy. My local bodega man is East Korean, Mr. Lee. He knew me throughout my entire life and called me “Onion” because he couldn’t say my name, Arian. I met hundreds of amazing people in the bodega. I’ve bought countless amounts of ridiculous things I shouldn’t have, sugary items, candies, all types of goods … I’ve hung out in bodegas half my life. Played Mortal Kombat II in them.
Did you hear about that startup last year called ‘Bodega‘? It was kind of like a robot pantry.
That’s ridiculous. I actually saw one in my neighborhood because I live in bougie-ass Brooklyn right now and they had people lined up outside of a building pressing buttons like it was fucking Pepsi, ordering groceries. Like I saw some person get celery in a machine. I was like, what the fuck is this? Get me out of here!
It’s super dystopian!
So, what makes Olmeca Altos Tequila’s a good fit for you? What about them mixes with what you’re into?
I love everything “Hecho en Mexico.” I don’t know, I just feel like this is a good brand. They have a lot of good qualities to them and theories behind it, and so do I… Sometimes opposites attract and sometimes the ugly man at the party gets the most beautiful woman. Vice versa. So I just think that it’s one of those relationships that’s building.
Do you have any favorite tequila-based drinks?
I mean, I love a good old neat tequila with margaritas frozen always work. I like to add tequila into a granita actually. I like to do a concord grape granita and add tequila into it to make it a little bit kicked up adult style, you know?…put a little mint…You get a little crazy! Use a little condensed milk… I’d like to make that for you one day.
That sounds good, getting complex with it!
Yeah. Well, that’s what I’m about… Now you take the concord grapes, you throw them in the blender. You use some concord juice also, put it into… not a deep Pyrex okay? You mix the tequila in… Crush some mint, throw into the freezer. Every so often you want to stir so you make sure it doesn’t freeze into a solid block. Agitating the ice so it becomes this unbelievable slushy type of thing…Then once it’s all slushy, you put that into a glass, add a little bit of condensed milk, a little crushed Amaretti cookie on top. You want to talk about getting silly?!
How do you see the interplay between music and food? Your rhymes are so full of imagery, a lot of the times food imagery, and I think about…how we’re obsessed with Instagramming our meals.
Oh, of course, food porn… We’re all fat in our inner hearts, you know? Like, everyone eats. Even the thinnest people that I know eat like cows, you know? They just love food. Food looks amazing, food is art.
Food is art. So I-
The call drops, I lose Action and start to panic. You know, as one does…
Hey, we lost each other.
Where we leave off?
You were talking about the art of food.
What was the last thing you heard? ‘Cause I was rambling.
You were saying that the art of food-
Haha, you don’t even fucking know!
I’m panicking, ’cause I lost you for a second!
Tell me about the art of food, Action.
Bro, it touches on all your senses. It fills you with nostalgia, fills you with joy, fills you with happiness. Like I said, when you see that cheeseburger come out and that cheese dripping off of it, all that goo dripping down your elbow. You know, it does something to you in your heart.
The food that you like to highlight on your show is a lot of old school classic stuff. So I’m wondering what do you think about these viral food trends, where they’re trying to mix crazy ingredients together to create something new?
I think that innovation is amazing. (Sighing) You know, it comes to a point where it’s just …like Fisher-Price shit. People have to be able to pick it out for themselves. I like to showcase classic, amazing food. But I also like modern shit. But it doesn’t mean you have to fucking put food coloring in a bagel…now you’re just getting disgusting. Now you just might as well throw Clorox in my soup, you know?
So what’s the most important aspect of food for you? What are you looking for? Is it just the passion behind it?
Not only the passion, the stories. I love exotic stuff… I’m an all-world palate. I really cannot tell you what my alley is. My alley is Chicken Parmesan. My alley is chicken cutlet with Land o’ Lakes American cheese and jalapenos on a fucking gyro. And my alley is Parmigiano Reggiano done five ways by Massimo Bottura in Modena. So my alley is very, very, very vast.
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OFF – MENU ITEM AT THE #fuckthatsdelicious POP UP TONIGHT. BLACK TRUFFLE CHICKEN PARM BURGER. NATURAL WINE WILL BE FLOWING A PLENTY AND I’LL BE SPINNING THE RAREST OF THE RAREST DJ SET KNOWN TO ALIENS. @nicolettanyc 7-10PM FIRST COME FIRST SERVE. @meyhemlauren @bigbodybesnyc @alanthechemist
What’s some of the most exciting stuff in food going on right now?
I love slow food. I think the most exciting stuff that’s going on in food is the slow food. Purists, the people who are fermenting things and taking the time to raise their animals right and really cultivating their lands and getting amazing stuff. Just like, just very, very, very, very pure. You know, the purest form of eating. Taking something directly off a tree and eating it… Something so simple it sounds stupid… That’s where I’m at. I don’t know about what’s the most exciting for anyone else…I’m just excited meeting farmers and meeting people that create amazing products and —
Getting personal with it.
Yeah, I love to meet the people that touched the things, that touch it with their hands, that know their land. That sleep, eat, breathe, live for their land! You know?
Is there a type of food that you think deserves a bigger spotlight or you feel like is going to get one?
I mean, I’ve said this many times. Dominican food… Dominican, Puerto Rican, stuff like that. I feel like … I’m in L.A. right now and there’s not one fucking place to get a good Dominican roasted chicken with platano and arroz blanco, frijoles. There’s nothing like that! No habichuelas, I can’t find it anywhere. I say I’m gonna come out here and open a Dominican restaurant.
That sounds good! I’ve never had Dominican food.
Straight up. Exactly! Rotisserie chicken, fried cheese, salami, pastelón, patacon.
Where is your favorite place to travel to eat?
I love Copenhagen for food.
What are you getting there?
I’m going to my man, we’re getting pork sandwich, it’s done in the style of a porchetta, but it’s not, it’s just a Copenhagen style porchetta sandwich, red cabbage, mustard, on a fucking bun… Two in the morning. After we’ve had a couple of adult beverages… Enjoying this amazing food. And not only that, you could also go from street food to three-star Michelin restaurants: Noma, Amass, all different types of places around so, Copenhagen is just a metropolis of food. Fun.
I know you’re a huge fan of Martin Yan and Ina Garten… Are there any new chefs that are exciting to you, or anybody that you recently discovered that you’re really into?
I mean, I’ve been doing a show called The Untitled Action Bronson Show… And I showcased I would say 150 new chefs, old chefs, just amazing chefs. I feel like I’ve met so many amazing people that have come to the show there’s just Nina Compton… My man from Rolf and Daughters, Philip Krajeck… Philip Krajeck is probably one of my favorites right now. He’s making some of the best pasta in the country, just doing really, really amazing stuff with natural wines, and just really good food down in Nashville… And of course, my man Billy Durney, hometown barbecue. Mark Iacono, who doesn’t like to call himself a chef, that man’s amazing.
You’ve done music, food, television, you’ve written a book, so where are we gonna see you next?
I haven’t just written a book, I’m a motherfucking bestselling author, Papi! …I’m writing another cookbook right now called ‘Stoned Beyond Belief’…That’s an exclusive, I haven’t told anyone that… It’s also gonna come out with Abrams books, probably later on this year.