Popular music has always had a special connection with food — with tasty hits like Blueberry Hill, Jambalaya, Brown Sugar, Honey, Green Onions, Cheeseburger in Paradise and "Cinnamon's" favorite song on Stage 3 at the Men's Club, Pour Some Sugar on Me.
Music stars like to own restaurants, too - Justin Timberlake, Sammy Hagar, Jimmy Buffett and half the joints in Branson have the owner singing for his supper.
Paul McCartney's first wife has her own line of vegetarian frozen dinners.
But no music act has ever taken food to the extreme as the Zac Brown Band, winner of the 2010 Grammy for Best New Artist, platinum-selling country artists, the headline act Thursday night at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo … and dedicated gourmands.
The Zac Brown Band has a fully functional mobile kitchen and restaurant at this year's rodeo, parked near Reliant Stadium as you enter through the McNee gate.
The restaurant on wheels, called Cookie, was the brainstorm of bandleader Brown and chef Rusty Hamlin. The two met 10 years ago at Hamlin's restaurant in Smyrna, Ga.
Brown was a struggling musician with a passion for food. He would cook in his family restaurant by day, and his band would perform at the restaurant at night. Hamlin was a young restaurant owner fresh out of the Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana. He could name every song Brown played in two notes.
They decided: We can do business.
Hamlin describes his cooking as "gourmet Southern infusion, using local products and intertwining them with recipes from around the world." Brown's music is country with reggae and Bob Dylan thrown in for good measure. The band led all acts with nine Academy of Country Music Award nominations earlier this year.
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