Industry Insiders: Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal, Food Fighters

By day, Chris Stang (left) and Andrew Steinthal work in the music industry, holding down high-pressure marketing and PR jobs at Atlantic Records and Warner Music’s Independent Label Group, respectively. But when they check out of the office, they log in to Immaculate Infatuation, a website of “restaurant reviews that don’t suck,” which they’ve been updating since 2009. Amid a sea of breathless food blogs, Immaculate is one to bookmark, if only because the writers eschew annoying culinary jargon like “speckled” and “toothsome.” (“What does toothsome even mean?” Stang asks.) Instead, they fill their reviews with humor, attitude, and a never-ending supply of pop culture references and food-focused interviews with bands like Metric and Passion Pit. BlackBook recently caught up with the duo to discuss the site’s origins, the key to its success, and their favorite New York hangouts.

On starting the blog: Stang: I honestly can’t remember who had the idea first, but once we came up with it, the sky suddenly turned black and there was lightning everywhere. Like in Ghostbusters.

On the perks of running a food blog: Stang: We don’t take free meals, but we’ve met a bunch of amazing people. Fans of our website, and a lot of great restaurant people and well-known chefs. The best part is all the cool people that reach out to us and are like, ‘hey, we use this thing all the time and we love it.’ People trust us a lot. They take our opinion and act based on that, which is crazy.

On their bosses’ reactions: Stang: They love it. It’s amazing how well our companies have taken to it. It says a lot about the people we work with. They’ve been really supportive of it and embraced it.

On making time for writing: Stang: We both have really demanding full time jobs. There’s no way we could do both during the day. We do it late at night or really early in the morning. Steinthal: I do it on my Blackberry on the way to work.

On their day jobs: Steinthal: I run the PR department, which is me and interns at Warner Music’s Independent Label Group and Stang’s the director of marketing at Atlantic. So he deals with big artists and I work with independent artists that are not necessarily putting out big hits all the time, but have been around for a while and have really good business and don’t necessarily need a major label.

On advertising and Immaculate’s success: Stang: We want to do advertising, but advertising that is right for our audience. We’re starting to get the traffic up to a level where we can have a conversation with real brands about making an impact. We’re sort of at that point where we’ve gone from a blog to a real website that has earning potential so we ask ourselves, how do we deal with all this?

Favorite New York bars: Stang: I don’t go to a lot of bars anymore, mostly restaurants, but I do like the bar at The Spotted Pig when it’s not packed, and Blind Tiger. Steinthal: I like Von a lot.

Next big buzz bands: Steinthal: I can’t stop listening to The Naked and Famous song “Young Blood.” They’re like Passion Pit on steroids. I also like Delorean, the Glitch Mob, Wiz Khalifa, and the Lonely Forest, whom I also happen to work with.

What’s better, a great show or a great meal? Stang: It’s gotta be the show, because a great show is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. If you’re an excellent restaurant you have to serve the same exact meal every single night. You have to deliver consistency and excellence.

For good food and music: Stang: Definitely the Momofukus – especially Ko, as well as L’Artusi. Steinthal: I like Barrio Chino.

Favorite eats: Steinthal: Momofuku Ssäm and Noodle are ultimate go-to’s. Can’t get enough pork buns in my life. Love Marlow & Sons in Williamsburg – that place has an amazing vibe. Torrisi is unique and incredible. Fette Sau for BBQ.

Industry Insiders: Joe Campanale, Wine Warrior

Joe Campanale and his business partner, chef Gabe Thompson, opened their first restaurant, dell’anima, in the fall of 2007, while Joe was still a year away from earning his masters at NYU’s Food Studies program. The cozy Italian restaurant in the West Village, which stays open until 2:00 a.m. five nights a week, immediately became a go-to spot for stylish locals and celebrities alike. On a recent weeknight we spotted Mad Men’s January Jones and Elisabeth Moss plus SNL funnyman Jason Sudeikis lingering over bowls of homemade pasta. In the next three years Joe and Gabe opened two more restaurants: L’Artusi, the bigger, grander version of dell’anima, and Anfora, a dimly lit wine bar adjacent to their first restaurant. Joe serves as beverage director for all three, crafting signature cocktails and helping diners navigate the extensive all-Italian wine lists. When he’s not working at one of his restaurants, you can find Joe racing in a marathon, roaming Italy, or teaching Martha Stewart how to mix a cocktail. Joe took time out from a wine-tasting trip in Friuli, Italy, to chat with BlackBook about restaurants, food, TV, and wines for under $10.

Biggest challenge of owning and operating three restaurants? Finding the right people so I don’t have to be all three restaurants every night, which is what we are constantly working on. These days I do very little of the actual operations. The other challenge is finding balance. I love work and my tendancy is to be here all the time. Running has helped me balance my life better.

At a small, neighborhood restaurant like dell’anima, where private seating isn’t really an option, how do you cater to celebrity clientele? We have a lot of celebs who come in and don’t seem to be bothered by the lack of privacy. Our guests are great about respecting people’s privacy. A few times though we’ve had people book the private room at L’Artusi so that they could be sure they have some privacy.

Nowadays, thanks to the Food Network and reality TV shows like Top Chef, consumers are a lot more informed, or at least they think they are. How does this affect the restaurant industry? I think its great that people are more interested and involved in food. The fact that consumers are more informed and demanding than ever will only help the guys who are doing it right.

Would you participate in a reality TV show? I’m open to it

Is there someone in the restaurant/hospitality biz whose career you wish to emulate? I respect Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food & Wine and Danny Meyer (of course!) but am trying to do my own thing.

Favorite NYC spots: I go to Gramercy Tavern and sit at the bar all the time! If I’m ever uptown its probably because I’m at Dovetail and I love Franny’s and Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

How can the general dining population become more educated about wine? Ask your sommelier a few questions when your order a bottle of wine, see if your favorite wine store does tastings, or sign up for a class. Institute of Culinary Education and the International Wine Center do great classes. Wine is one of those things where having a little knowledge really adds to the enjoyment.

Is there such a thing as a great bottle of wine for under $15? Under $10? I drink bottles at those prices all the time. I think you can have a very good bottle at $10 or $15, but a great wine requires a great plot of land, low yields, and lots of hours of doing things by hand – the kinds of things you can skimp on with less expensive wines. So, once in a while it is worth it to splurge on a nicer bottle if you can.

Your favorite cocktail? Negroni Sbagliato (“wrong negroni”), a negroni with sparkling white wine instead of gin.

Plans for the future? Continue to improve dell’anima, L’Artusi, and Anfora and we’ll see what comes of it.

Industry Insiders: Jade Lai, Bringing Comfort Back

Jade Lai, owner and designer of Creatures of Comfort (the store and the line), describes her clothes as “powerful, interesting, and fun.” The same can be said of Lai herself. Lai works a casual cool that a lot of us aspire to but can’t quite master. Shopping at her store, which recently opened a New York location (the original CoC is in Los Angeles), is a good place to start. When she met with BlackBook she wore a loose white tee tucked into a floor-length skirt (her new fall obsession) and shiny gold oxfords. The new space — a 2,300 square foot former police precinct on Mulberry Street — resembles an artist’s loft, thanks to soaring ceilings and a multi-color, floor-to-ceiling curtain made by artist group Confetti System. In addition to a house line designed by Lai, you’ll find downtown favorites like Alexander Wang, Rachel Comey, and Isabel Marant. We stopped by right as the store opened on a bright Saturday morning to chat with Lai about her East Coast move, her style icons, and the perfect first-date outfit.

On her artistic side: My background is in art. I went to art school and started out doing video art and eventually graduated with an architecture degree. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I did freelance graphic design, had a jewelry line, a card line. I worked at a store and with an interior design firm. I also ended up doing fashion show production for a small L.A. brand.

On shopping: I don’t really shop that much, honestly. Vintage shopping. I go to flea markets. Barneys is always good for shoes. I feel like I shop so much for my store that it takes the pleasure away.

Personal Style: Casual. Stylish. I like to play with clothes a little bit but I’m not really fashion-y. I think I stick with classic silhouettes. I play with tucked shirts and colors.

On forgoing comfort for fashion: Do I have to? Almost never. Every once and a while I’ll wear cute heels, but I’m tall enough that I don’t really need to. I think you can have both if you really want to.

Style icons: Katharine Hepburn. My mom, back in the eighties. I always go through her closet.

CoC LA vs. CoC NYC: The clothes are similar. Even though there’s a store in LA, its not very LA-specific. CoC will always stand out on its own because it’s more like the girl who travels, who has her own style. She doesn’t have to belong to a certain area or region. The difference is we’re selling more winter attire here in New York. Still very powerful, interesting, wearable, fun clothes.

Favorite fall trends: Long skirts! The long silhouette.

Ideal first date outfit: Loose, silk button-down shirt, soft to touch, and then something like a sexy bottom but not too revealing. Maybe some tight jeans tucked in, or a high-waisted skirt, tucked in. Nice, clean hair. Maybe a cardigan or blazer or jean jacket. Just very simple. And little or no makeup.

On Nolita: I knew for sure that I wanted to be downtown. I’ve been back and forth a lot for business. I think the West Village is really cute, maybe too cute. But I just don’t know it as well and most of my friends are around here. It just kind of happened organically. I feel like there aren’t too many great stores in Nolita, everything is closing down.

On owning her own store: It’s a lot easier than you think. Patience, persistence – just go for it.

NYC spots: I love sushi, so I always have two to three days of Omen or Hasaki. I don’t really go out that much because I’m trying to cut down on drinking, usually just art openings and parties. When I get my own apartment I want to start just having dinner parties. I also like a good dance party. Santos Party House is fun, and Le Bain.

Industry Insiders: Rich Cohen Is the Man Behind the Music

Passion Pit and Tokyo Police Club manager Rich Cohen first became obsessed with music in seventh grade, when he heard They Might Be Giants’ sophomore album, Lincoln. But he didn’t think his piano skills were polished enough for him to become a musician himself, so he set his sights on the next best music business career: band management. Cohen got his start in the business interning at Filter magazine and temping at Virgin Records, which led to a full-time job as the day-to-day manager of Interpol and Elefant. In 2006, he formed his own management company and signed indie rockers Tokyo Police Club. Fast-forward three years, and he added his second client, the catchy, synth-pop band, Passion Pit, to the roster. Rich credits his work ethic, methodical nature, and psychology degree from Syracuse University for his success as a manager. Here’s Rich on social networking, interns, and taking the bands home to meet his parents.

On his first job in the music business: My first real job was working for a management company doing day to day for Interpol and Elefant. I got it through a series of different temp jobs and interning at Filter marketing. Then I was temping at Virgin Records, and I befriended a few people and they recommended I meet with the manager of Interpol, took a meeting, and hit it off right away.

On being a manager: For the most part I’m just trying to manage the day-to-day careers for both my bands, whether its liaising with the tour manager when they’re on the road, dealing with the business manager building budgets, talking to the agent about routing tours, talking to the lawyer about record contracts or the publisher about film, TV, and commercial licensing. It’s a healthy balance of all of those. It’s obviously busier when the bands on the road.

On who are the bigger divas, Passion Pit or Tokyo Police Club: Whoah. Let’s call it a tie. They’re both equally great and have similar needs and wants. They’re both amazing to work with. How’s that for diplomatic?

On interning at his office: It’s a big open environment. No cubicles, no dividers. I feel like we’re pretty open to having people hear what’s going on and I feel like it’s a really good learning environment. The bands come in a lot and I like to get cupcakes for people on their birthdays.

What’s the best TV show to get one of the band’s music in? I would have to say Gossip Girl. Or maybe How I Met Your Mother.

On Tokyo Police Club: I started managing Tokyo when I was working for a management company. A friend told me about this band I should go check out. I went over to Mercury Lounge and there were three other people there. I really enjoyed the performance and kept in touch with the guys. I offered my advice to them and around four months later went to Montreal to see them play and they decided that we would be better off working together than not working together. So I decided to take them on while I was still doing my day-to-day work with the management company and helping them out. And they started to grow, and eventually I ended up parting ways with my management company and started with them as my only client.

On Passion Pit: I’ve been working with Passion Pit for going on two years. They were big fans of Tokyo. It seemed like they were in a position to do some great things but they just needed some guidance. I worked with them in the studio when they were finishing up Manners. They saw what I did with Tokyo, how I helped them grow, so they decided to work with me.

On social networking: I think it plays an important role. You can connect with 100,000 people at the touch of a button and have them waiting on your every word. With Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, it’s direct access to fans. It allows for a relationship with bands that’s pretty special. And I think for bands starting out it’s a great way to get your music out there and it levels the playing field. There’s the same chance for a band in San Francisco as a band in Stockholm, Sweden.

On liking his bands as people: I won’t work with a band unless I feel like I can bring them home to my parents. I feel strongly about getting along with them as people. And if I don’t, I can’t work with them. When Tokyo Police Club first played Letterman, they slept on my floor, and all of them have met my family. I can’t work with bands and put people out there if they don’t reflect what I’m trying to do as a manager. I think that both these bands do.

On taking on new bands: I’d love to grow my roster. There are a lot of requirements that I want on my end. They have to be good people, they have to be great artists, they have to love their music. They have to want to work as hard as I do. I’d love to have three or four bands, but I also don’t want to spread myself so thin that I can’t fully service the people that I’m working with.

Burger King’s Whopper Bar Unleashes the New York Pizza Burger

In case you haven’t heard, Burger King is hoping to step it up a notch with a chain of higher-end restaurants called the Whopper Bar. With locations in Orlando, Miami, and New York, the unique BK offspring sell fancier burgers and will eventually offer beer, since it wouldn’t be a proper bar without it. But the Times Square location alone will offer the New York Pizza Burger, a ground meat monstrosity made of four patties, loaded with cheese, marinara sauce, and pepperoni, and cut into pizza-like slices — the biggest fast food innovation since the KFC Double Down. Last night, the Times Square Whopper Bar invited members of the press to sample the new dish and check out some of the other Whopper Bar exclusives.

From the outside, the Whopper Bar looks like any other Burger King. When you walk inside, it smells like household cleansers, which we’re assuming is also normal for the chain. Full disclosure: I haven’t been inside a Burger King in years. I can probably count the number of times I’ve eaten fast food on one hand, (growing up I was taught it was a direct cause of several life-shortening diseases), so I employed my good friend Nate to come with me. Like other normal American children, Nate grew up eating the pancake-thin, extra-wide burgers known as Whoppers.

The Whopper Bar menu features the classic Whopper, build-your-own Whoppers, and Whoppers fancied up with ingredients like guacamole, blue cheese, and bourbon sauce. And then, of course, there’s the NY Pizza Burger. While it was funny seeing avocados on a BK menu, the most startling part of the whole experience was the fact that we were led to a tablecloth-draped table by a friendly, twenty-something press rep and had our food (three burgers plus the pizza burger) delivered to us. It just didn’t feel like Burger King. Taste-tester Nate had similar things to say about the food. Here are his reactions:


The California

“The guacamole was weak, didn’t have much flavor. It was thin. And it didn’t have a Whopper taste. To me it wasn’t a Whopper. It was a burger with guacamole. My least favorite.”


The Meat Beast

“Actually pretty good. It tasted just like the Whopper except that it added pepperoni. I’m not generally a fan of adding meats to a burger, but it had a nice pepperoni flavor that enhanced the Whopper taste.”


BK Black and Bleu Steakhouse XT

“A completely different burger from the Whopper. Tasted more like a restaurant burger. The blue cheese was really good. The bacon seemed like it was thicker than the bacon on the Meat Beast. If I got this at a place like Chili’s I would be more than happy with it.”


Pizza Burger

“Like Burger King meets roller rink pizza. I feel like it needed something else. There was a lot of cheese and a lot of sauce. It could have used some other toppings to balance that all out. And that mysterious Tuscan Sauce tastes a lot like pesto.”

We admire Burger King’s efforts to capitalize on the success of their most popular sandwich, but we’re betting New Yorkers have other places to get their gourmet burger fix. And after the novelty of the pizza burger wears off, BK regulars will stick to ordering what they’ve been getting their entire lives: the classic Whopper.

Ranking Everything We Ate at Lollapalooza

This weekend at Lollapalooza, while everyone was busy clawing their way closer to Gaga, we had other things on our minds and in our bellies. Thanks to celebrated chef Graham Elliot Bowles, the grub at this year’s Chicago incarnation of the yearly musical smorgasbord was not your average overpriced festival fare. You might recognize Elliot as the puffy guy in white-frame glasses sitting next to Gordon Ramsay on Fox’s new hit Masterchef. But besides being a TV personality, Bowles is actually highly regarded in the food community as the nation’s youngest four-star chef. (Obama celebrated his birthday last week with Oprah and Elliot’s eponymous eaterty.) In his role as Lollapalooza’s culinary curator, Bowles signed on 30 local restaurants to be a part of Chow Town, two parallel strips of food tents located on the north and south perimeters of Grant Park. He told us he chose restaurants with an “independent, punk spirit that paired really well with the music this year.” If he had to pick his top three items, he’d go for the “lobster corn dog, the burger from Kuma’s Corner, and one of the milk shakes from Hoosier Mama Pie Shop.” Over the course of three days we tried all of those, and then some. Here’s our take on the best of what Lollapalooza had to offer (sorry, Gaga).


1st Place, The Smokin’ Brat from Franks N Dawgs: The Smokin’ Brat ($8) comes fully loaded with a juicy homemade bratwurst, smoked gouda, and caramelized onions. Franks makes their own sausage, and after the first bite, that extra effort becomes apparent. What makes this hot dog really stand out, though, is the flakey, brioche bun. It’s more like a lobster roll than your typical hot dog bun. Soft as pastry crust, it creates a bite that is so effortless, your snack will be finished before you even remember starting it.


2nd, Place, Pork Belly Sliders from Blue 13: Asian pork belly sliders with kimchi-cilantro scallion salad, Asian BBQ and wasabi cream sauce. It’s hard to live up to a description like that, but these delectable sliders ($7 for three) were layered with flavors so expertly that it was impossible not to pick up on every single one of them. We also detected a hint of truffle, which curiously was not mentioned. Needless to say, these were gone within seconds.


3rd Place, Hoosier Mama Pie Company: Imagine a huge slice of homemade chocolate cream pie. On top is a gigantic, melting scoop of vanilla ice cream, dripping down the sides and into the crevices of piecrust. Now picture dumping that slice of pie and ice cream into a blender and merging the two until you form a milkshake consistency, making sure to keep occasional chunks of piecrust firm and unblended. Rich and creamy, it’s one of the most delicious things we’ve ever eaten—not just at the festival, but in life.


4th Place, Pork Belly Tostada from Big Star: Big Star’s $7 pork belly tostada is a great example of how to not let a heavy ingredient, like pork belly, weigh down a relatively light dish. The meat was flavorful, but not dripping of sauce, and paired nicely with the fresh sprigs of cilantro and crumbled cheese. Resting on a firm, crunchy tostada—basically a gigantic tortilla chip—it was a nice change of pace from all the buns and brioche we’d been eating. After a few squirts of lime, it felt like one of the most summery dishes of the fest. image

5th Place, Lobster Corn Dog from Graham Elliot: Graham Elliot’s $9 lobster corn dog scored points for both innovation and presentation, but after we spit out a piece of lobster shell, we had to reevaluate. Though definitely a headlining act, we would compare this dish to Lady Gaga’s performance: it was something we had to see, whether we were in the mood for it or not, but once we got there and couldn’t see past the all chicks with soda cans in their heads, (or in this case nearly choked on lobster shell) we walked away kind of disappointed.


6th Place, Cheese Pizza from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Our first experience with Chicago deep-dish pizza couldn’t have been at a better time than right after MGMT played on Sunday, when we drank a few too many Budweiser Select 55s (their new, 55 calorie beer which tastes like water with a very, very faint taste of alcohol). Thanks to mounds of super tomatoe-y sauce and gooey mozzarella, even one slice of this pizza is heavy. The crust has the girth of a sugar cookie, and a similar crunchiness. No complaints as far as taste goes, but for the average East Coaster, comparisons to Dominoes deep-dish are inevitable.


7th Place, Mango Orange Banana Smoothie from Maui Wowi: After eating pork belly, pork sausage, and more pork belly, the mango orange banana smoothie from Maui Wowi was like a watering hole in the desert.The fruit had restorative powers. It was over 90 degrees on Sunday but felt like 120, and we were beat. This smoothie saved us.


8th Place, Kuma Burger from Kuma’s Corner: The Kuma Burger was ready for a photo-shoot the second we laid eyes on it. I mean, look at that sandwich, it’s gorgeous. Unfortunately, it looked a lot better than it tasted. All of the elements for a great burger were there; a buttery brioche bun, encased super-fresh lettuce, crispy bacon, and a thick patty. The downfall was in the burger itself, which was so dry and overcooked that we had to sip water in between bites just to get it down. With the longest lines of any station, Kuma’s Corner was by far the most popular stop at Chow Town. We’re blaming our burn burger on ill-timing; we ordered it just after 9pm, when the lines were dying down and stations were hoping to get rid of everything.


9th Place, Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich from Rockit Bar and Grill: This $7 Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich was more sweet than it was savory thanks to an overflow of the bourbon BBQ sauce. I would say the sauce-to-pork ratio was something like 3:2. It was really more like eating a sauce sandwich, as the richness of the sticky conglomerate completely masked any taste of meat. While it might have been delicious in moderation, in excess we just felt sick.


10th Place, Windsor Roll from Windsor Ice Cream Shoppe: The five-dollar Windsor Roll—vanilla ice cream rolled in chocolate cake with whipped cream and hot fudge—looks like a real winner. It tastes like Key Food’s best effort at ice cream cake. While the ice cream itself was creamy and good, there was such a small portion of it in that monstrous mound that we felt ripped off. And that moist, delicious looking cake? Dry. Like so many sundaes, it was all good looks and whipped cream. A sad display, especially when Hoosier Mama Pies are in the vicinity.

Twenty-two minutes with Minus the Bear’s Jake Snider

A couple of Mondays ago, the Bowery Electric was jam-packed for a secret Minus the Bear show in promotion of the band’s new album, Omni. The crowd was filled with loyal fans, sweaty and singing along. Recorded by famed producer Joe Chiccarelli (who worked with Frank Zappa, Elton John and Radiohead), Omni departs slightly from MTB’s math-rock past, incorporating more harmonies and poppy refrains. In a scratchy, romantic voice, lead singer Jake Snider speaks of love—the kind that’s short but intense, that leaves you with a lot of questions and lovesick lyrics. Soon after the New York show, we caught up with Jake about the new album, the band’s Facebook page, and what he dislikes the most about doing interviews.

I went to your show on Monday and noticed that most of the fans were big, burly men. How would you describe the typical Minus the Bear fan? The ones that I notice are usually cute girls, in the front of the audience, usually with a burly man resting their arms on them. A lot of couples, and a lot of jocky dudes, for sure. A lot of people who’ve heard our music on their college radio station with their backwards hat on.

Are you a fan of the backwards hat? I’m not a big fan of it. I think baseball hats should be for baseball players.

This is your fourth record. Is it the best? I think it’s the best, yeah. The latest is always the best, for me. It’s the one that’s always the most exciting. It feels a little warmer. You’re accomplishing new things.

Is there a theme or inspiration for this album? The theme that I’ve been going with is kind of like a summer affair, the short love affair that starts, is over quickly, that’s intense.

Why the switch to Dangerbird from Suicide Squeeze? We were out of contract with Suicide Squeeze after Planet of Ice came out, so we really didn’t have a label at the time. We worked with David Dickenson at Suicide Squeeze for our whole career and wanted to take that opportunity to see what having a different relationship would be like. You know, we left Suicide Squeeze as friends, we see David all the time and he still promotes the hell out of our band and record.

Who is your favorite Dangerbird artist? Oh, I’d have to say probably The Dears right now. I love Darker My Love.

How was working with Joe Chiccarelli? It was great, it was intense as well. It was our first time working with someone who wasn’t Matt Bayles, the producer that we always work with. We wanted to find somebody who had the ability to get amazing sound on the record. And after hearing a lot of the records he’s done over the years that’s kind of his forte — big, powerful records. After getting him on board he pretty much whipped us into shape, made us play our songs a million times until he had what he wanted, made me write lyrics over until he liked them, all that stuff. It was a really all-encompassing recording experience.

What are you listening to these days? I’m listening to a lot of Steely Dan, kind of my go-to what I listen to lately. Steely Dan, Van Morrison, Donovan, quite a bit of old stuff. I really like Diane Birch’s new record, Bible Belt. But not a hell of a lot of new stuff, not a lot of contemporary bands.

Lady Gaga or Beyonce? Beyonce.

Best live show you’ve seen? That’s a good question. Best live show I’ve ever seen, either Roger Waters at Coachella a couple years ago, that was fucking phenomenal. We just played a festival and one of our old tour mates, this band Piebald, they’re like a pop punk band from Boston that we went on tour with when we were just starting out, they played a reunion show at the Bamboozle festival. It was pretty fun to watch.

Any pre-performance rituals? I’ll usually have a Jack Daniels of some kind, chill out, just relax. And then we all put our hands in the middle of a circle and do some kind of cheer.

Where do you like to hang out in NYC? Well last time we were there we hung out at Union Pool. Union Pool’s got that great taco cart.

What’s on your rider? Usually I think its four cases of beer, two bottles of Jack Daniels, a bottle of tequila, pound of turkey, orange juice.

Does it all get consumed? The booze usually does, the beer has staying power depending on the city. Depending on the guests. But we usually get rid of the bottled liquor pretty easily.

Best and worst things about doing interviews? I like the fact that people are interested in talking to me about my band and what I do for a living. It’s a pretty incredible thing to have people interested in what you do and that people want to read that article when it’s published. My least favorite thing about doing interviews is usually simple inconvenience, being pulled out of my normal routine. Sometimes you’re going through your day and you want to have a cheeseburger or something, and you have to do an interview.

Hugh Jackman, Adriana Lima & Harvey Keitel @ Aerospace High Performance Center

You didn’t have to pry your way into the Boom Boom Room to go celebrity-hunting in the Meatpacking District last Thursday night. For a $30 ticket (which would get you just one drink at the Boom, by the way) you could have supported a fantastic cause, and gotten your fill of A-listers. Aerospace High Performance Center, the chic athletic club on 13th street, hosted its third annual Championships Fight for Fitness competition — proceeds go to the East Harlem School’s fitness program — with an impressive panel of celebrity judges including Hugh Jackman, Adriana Lima, Narciso Rodriguez, Q-tip and Harvey Keitel.

Perched on bleachers around a boxing ring, a crowd of excited gym members and their trendy kids watched the show; on another wall, Hugh Jackman and his kids watched, too, although we noticed eight-year-old Oscar Jackman focused more on Dad’s iPhone.

The competition was divided into two main events — jump rope and boxing — while contestants were judged on three official categories: swagger, getup and realism. Who better to critique one’s outfit than supermodel Adriana Lima, who left six-month-old daughter Valentina at home, in order to offer her expertise. The new mom looked like a teenager in a colorful sundress, with her hair pulled back, flashing smile after smile. Dispelling any rumor that high-fashion models are high maintenance, the Brazilian beauty took off her heels as she jumped around, flashing scorecards and kissing sweaty contestants on the cheek. “I’ve tried many different workouts,” says Adriana, “but the best exercise for me was boxing because it’s not boring, it challenges you, and every day you learn something new.”

Outfits aside, actors Hugh Jackman and Harvey Keitel determined which fighters looked more like Hulk Hogan than Muhammed Ali. Included among the scrappers were a handful of muscled women who took their turns sparring with club owner and fitness expert Michael Olajide. Jackman, a veteran boxer at Aerospace, has no qualms throwing punches with the weaker sex. “My wife comes here too,” says the actor, “That’s why I first came here. I thought, I’ve got to keep up with her or she’s going to kick my ass.” Man or woman, Jackman knows from experience how hard boxing can be. “It’s the most intense workout I know.”