Culture Shock: Festival Fashion Gets Branded

With two weekends of Ultra behind us, and Coachella fast approaching, everyone has been coming down with a case of festival fever, and the retailers have taken notice. Like its hip-hop predecessor, the EDM genre has caught the eye of the fashion industry, which has now adopted the trending festival styles into their own fashion campaigns. 

Just take a look at what some notable retail chains have come up with for their spring/summer advertisements. It won’t be long before tie-dyed bandeaus and furry hoods are gracing the editorial pages of Vogue (Ummm not!).

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Deck Out: Top 25 Most Stylin’ DJs

In need of some fashion ideas that are outside the crate this holiday season? Take a cue from these DJs from across the globe, of all ages, who know how to both drop the needle and select unique threads.

A sneak peek:
Audrey Napoleon’s signature jet black hair, smokey eyes and tough noir leather jacket is goth chic.
Maya Jane Coles has pixie punk appeal with a fly vintage blazer and music that blazes.
Israeli DJ Guy Gerber is always lookin’ fly in a cool pair of shades.
Afrojack rocks ruff n’ stuff with his collection of designer hoodies.

For the full list, head over to our buddies at VIBE and see the spread in all its glory.  

Up in Richard Wheeler’s HOUS: Fashion Tips + VIBE & HOUS Limited Editions at #VIBEVMix!

VIBE has joined forces with NYC’s legendary LAVO NYC doorman/fashion designer, Richard Wheeler, to create a limited edition HOUS shirt that will be sold exclusively at our first-ever V-Mix concert starring A-Trak and A$AP Mob, this Thursday Nov 29. (TICKETS HERE). Wheeler sat down to give us the skinny of secrets to passing his coveted red rope, the 411 on the VIBE collabo and more.

Why is the Vibe V-Mix concert important?
The answer is simple: VIBE nailed it, a leader in hip-hop youth culture that has created an event that solidifies what is happening today. Electronic Dance Music, becoming the most exciting genre of music today, literally exploding on the dance floors across the globe, top ten charts, TV and advertising. The truth is, within this explosion of EDM it was greatly helped by hip-hop and it’s collaboration with EDM. Today they dominate together. This event is a reflection of this. Let’s celebrate!

Name some of the most stylish celebs that have passed the red rope at LAVO:
Mariah Carey, Michael Jordan, John Legend, Black Eyed Peas, Leo DiCaprio, Steve Aoki, Ciara, Jay Sean, Lennox Lewis, to name a few. We have seen nearly Every Victoria’s Secret Model on many occasions – a preference, naturally. Justin Beiber has some style (surprisingly!). My Zenith was reached when I lifted the rope for Stevie Wonder.

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Will David Guetta Spin The Fate of R&B?

It’s hard to tell where the crowd’s flickering lighters meet the beaming LED screens strung around Randall’s Island like Christmas trees on steroids. The sun has set on the former juvenile delinquent reform school site as David Guetta steps onto the main stage for his performance at New York’s enormous electronic music event, Electric Zoo. The 35,000 dance music devotees look like a sea of neon-clad ants from up here. One thing is clear: The scene is definitely a zoo, and the 44-year-old Frenchman is its ringleader.

The show has begun. Spasmodic lights begin to flash and flicker while Star Trek-esque synths pump from the speakers. Guetta drops the opening chords of Sia’s “Titanium (Alesso Remix)” before announcing his arrival to the Big Apple this morning from Ibiza, the island that’s home to his famed Fuck Me I’m Famous party that draws the likes of and Diddy weekly. “New York!” he drags out. “Are you ready to party?!” On cue, the break beat drops and concertgoers collectively go ape shit as Guetta dances, flails and orchestrates in the DJ booth. He neither sings, raps, chants, nor ad-libs—yet the man puts on one hell of a show.

“It always means something special to me when I play in cities like New York or Chicago or Detroit because this is where [house] music was born even though it became more of a European thing later on,” says the tall, lumbering producer/DJ from beneath a mangled mane of blonde waves and a grin so wide it teeters on goofy. The one-hour set wrapped 20 minutes ago, and he’s now lounging lithely on the black leather couch in his trailer, wearing a crisp black T-shirt with an eagle screen-printed across. The peaceful energy Guetta exudes is contagious in a way that anyone—from within a room to an arena—can feel, part of why millions flock to see him nightly across the globe.

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A Q&A With DJ Photographer Rukes

Considered the number one DJ photographer in the world, “Rukes is like a ninja,” according to mix master, Dirty South. The shutterbug, “beautifully captured the rise of a movement and the musicians that lead it that otherwise would have continued to go unnoticed if not for his amazing photographs," superstar DJ-producer Kaskade adds.

The worldwide client list of Rukes includes Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, Avicii, Zedd, Steve Aoki, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, Calvin Harris, Dada Life, Sub Focus and even Tommy Lee. When not on tour with DJ’s he can be found photographing massive events including Electric Daisy Carnival, Holy Ship! and Stereosonic in Australia, keeping Rukes constantly on the move

W Times Square approached Rukes with the idea of co-curating an exhibit as the brand is deeply committed to music and EDM in particular. Thus, “Inside the Booth” was born. The show will feature never-before-seen images of famous DJs shot by Rukes. Next to each DJ’s photograph, a listening station will be installed, allowing guests to enjoy the artist’s music while they fully immerse themselves in the moment as if they themselves were on stage. 

How did you become the go-to photographer for DJs?
A combination of trust and good photography! I started off taking pics of DJs around 2005 when digital cameras were just starting to get big, so there were very few people using them to capture the EDM scene. When I started honing my skills as the years went on and figuring out my eye for photos, they turned out to be the type of photos that most DJs wanted to represent their work. Not to mention my ninja-like skills of being able to take photos without getting in anyone’s way or even the DJs noticing I’m there!

You’re clearly a fan of EDM since listening stations will accompany this exhibition…
Yes, definitely! Been a fan since probably the very late ’90s, well before I even used my first camera!

Who is your favorite DJ and why?
It’s hard to pick favorites, there are so many out there for various reasons! I would have to pick two for now…

One would be Hybrid. They aren’t very well known, but should be. They have produced my favorite EDM music since I started listening to them, and were the first DJs to recognize that I had some talent hidden away and I should keep on working on my photography.

Second would probably have to be Zedd. We are really close friends; so much so that I was able to hang around in his top secret studio while he worked on his upcoming album, which is a MONSTER. One of those rare albums where pretty much every track could be its own #1 hit; and I rarely come across albums like that. He’s just starting out, and we definitely are planning on doing a whole lot of work together when he gets even bigger in the future!

Do you listen to hip-hop ever? Who?
Not regularly, but I’m pretty much a fan of every genre of music. I still haven’t fully branched out into hip-hop for my music catalog (I love to just load up tons of music on my iPod and hit shuffle in the car).

Who is your all-time favorite DJ to photograph live? Why?
Again, I can’t really pick just one, there are way too many for various reasons. From Deadmau5 and his amazing production spectacle, to Dada Life and their champagne and bananas, to Steve Aoki and his crowd interaction, every DJ has their own reason why I love to photograph them.

You seem to be everywhere at once since there are so many DJs all over the world everyday of the week! How do you do it? When do you sleep?
I am always on the move it seems. Thankfully summertime I usually have a little bit of time off before tour season really starts, so I’m able to get some breaks here and there, and plan a family vacation to Tokyo.

I try to follow a “normal” sleep schedule as much as possible. I have to put priority of my health and well being over photography, as there can’t be good photos without it. I won’t be able to react quicker to capture any photos, or hold my hands stable enough with a lack of sleep. So for the most part, my schedule is sleep, eat, work on photos, shoot more photos, eat, sleep. Rarely during tours do I ever have a moment off to even explore the city; usually the best chance I get is when I’m looking for some food.

Is there anyone you haven’t shot and are dying for?
Probably Daft Punk is all that’s left on my EDM list. I saw them at Coachella and I did have a camera in hand, but since I knew I was witnessing something amazing, I felt I should actually enjoy what was going on without working. I rarely do that.

Who inspires you as a photographer?
Not to sound cheesy, but myself. When I take a picture that is amazing, it just inspires me to keep taking photos at that level and improve myself so the next time I take a photo like that, it’s even better. I sometimes reach that stage of creative depression where I think “Oh, nothing will top that picture I just took” but then I just surprise myself later when I do!

What advice do you have for the budding shutterbugs?
My favorite piece of advice is to make sure you find your personal eye for photography. Figure out your style; don’t spend all your life trying to emulate another photographer, that is a dead-end. Take photos the way you want to take them and make sure they make you happy, don’t try to make someone else happy. If people like your work, they will respect what you do.

What’s your fave software?
Adobe Lightroom is my program of choice for editing all the RAW photos I have. Can’t live without it!

Definitely my new Canon 1DX, it’s an amazing camera that helps get some shots I couldn’t get with earlier cameras! Every new technological innovation makes it a little easier to get those extreme low-light shots the way I want them.

Second would have to be my new laptop, a Dell Precision M6700. A lot of people are surprised I’m not a mac guy, but when you realize the MacBook Pro doesn’t have a great screen for photo editing (colors are a bit off even when calibrated, doesn’t have a full gamut of the color spectrum) it really helps having a beautiful 10-bit IPS panel with 100% sRGB color and more. No need to hook up an external monitor; the colors on my laptop are now the same as the colors as my pro monitor at home!

How has EDM’s explosion in the US change your career?
It’s done a lot to help boost it up, but not too much to change it. I’m still doing what I used to do, just a bit more now. More DJs I have worked with for years are starting to tour bigger and bigger venues, and more festivals are popping up. So pretty much EDM’s explosion has just provided me with the opportunity with more work, better “Rukes shots” (the behind-the-DJ fisheye shot with the entire crowd) and now with this exhibition at the W Hotel in Times Square, the ability for people to see what they missed the past few years, like the beginning of Skrillex when he first was hanging out with Deadmau5 in 2010 as “Sonny” and then later opening for his first Deadmau5 shows before “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites”

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Can a Band Overcome a Gimmick? Atomic Tom Returns with the Excellent ‘In Parallel’

Amidst a sea of businessmen vying for after-work cocktails, the four members of Atomic Tom – frontman Luke White, Philip Galitzine on bass, Eric Angelo on guitar, and Tobias Smith on drums – drift into Midtown’s La Cava, their asymmetrical rocker haircuts and fitted denim provoking a hushed wave of, “Who are those guys?” from the suited regulars. The wine bar isn’t too far from the rehearsal space of the Brooklyn band, whose latest EP, In Parallel, dropped earlier this month.

In October of 2010, the then-struggling band posted a video on YouTube, which would within weeks result in an upward spiral of their popularity from spotty to spotlight. The video consisted of Atomic Tom’s four members riding the B train to Brooklyn while performing their single, “Take Me Out.” The hitch? They used only iPhones with music apps as instruments. By the end of the day, 220,00 people had viewed their video, and by the end of the week—two million.

In Parallel features six tracks consisting of three songs. Each tune has a fully produced version accompanied by an acoustic counterpart. Luke White, who started the band over six years ago, says that while defining their sound is challenging, “our music is not so challenging. We’re not trying to fake anybody out. We’ve become straight ahead rock with some pop melodies that people can sing and dance along to in a club.”

Today, Atomic Tom’s spectacle has nearly five million views on YouTube. They spent the last year reaping in the benefits of fast fame, touring the country, and figuring out how to stay relevant in an era where musicians are often swiftly left by the wayside.

How long had you been a band before you got some serious recognition? Luke White: I started the band six years ago. Phil was helping at that time with the bass. He was the first member of the band. Eric came on board in 2007. We didn’t start going forward aggressively until Tobias joined the band in 2009. Then we had four fully committed members of Atomic Tom. We went into the studio that summer to record our first record.

How do you break free of the image of being a gimmick band? Philip Galitzine: That was a concern in the beginning. We tried really hard to not capitalize on it in the cheap and obvious ways. We let the video speak for itself and kept playing great shows like we’d always done. Then we went on tour three months after the video came out. A lot of people came out to shows because they were curious about us from YouTube, but we never referred to it in our live shows. It’s a rock show. People would come out pleasantly surprised. And even when the video first came out people were like, “Wow what a great song.” It’s not just a cool concept.

When you tour, are you headliners or do you open for another group? Tobias Smith: We haven’t done a support tour but we are looking to do one in the Winter. The last tour we did was as headliners. We did most of America, the entire West Coast and East Coast, some places in the middle, and three dates in Canada.

What do four guys do on tour? T.S.: We are in a really nice Sprinter van made for touring. We played Tetris a lot on the flat screen.

So you’re really living up to the rock star life? TS: We drink champagne while playing Tetris. We don’t really party hard and drink hard, but we hang around people that do. PG: I drink alone. Eric Angelo: Some of us party more than others. Phil does drink alone a lot. I’ll drink a bit before I go onstage and I’ll drink after.

Is it a friends first atmosphere or are you band mates first? LW: Initially, we came on as friends and it was very important that we get along. We’ve certainly had our differences where the argument has become, “Well we don’t need to be friends!” But then we found out that that doesn’t actually work. PG: Sometimes you lose a little perspective and things that aren’t incredibly important tend to feel that way and conversations that should take five minutes take an hour because everyone wants to be satisfied. But I can’t think of any four people in such a close situation as we are that get along amazingly. When we say that we fight, its not unusual.

What does it say about the music business when you can be struggling a band for years and then one video catapults you into fame? LW: It says that the middleman isn’t as necessary anymore. Look how much we accomplished with one video that we did ourselves. Eric’s brother came out up with the concept, we put it together, shot it on iPhones, the budgets was $400, we put it up, and a few days later it had millions of views. In the next 15 years you may see the need for a middleman to distribute content will be no more.

When you’re in NYC do you go out as a crew? E.A.: We hang out a lot—probably too much.

Where do you go? L.W.: Mesa Coyocan in Williamsburg. They have the best commercial margarita ever. P.G.: Also, Rockwood Music Hall. A lot of us came up there. We like music and we’ve been involved in that scene for so long that we can go there and just be at home.

From Garden to Snifter: Veggies Land in Cocktails Across America

Is that a cucumber in your cocktail or are you just happy to see me? I, for one, am just happy to see the cucumber. With the emergence of ‘vegetails’ (vegetable laden cocktails) popping up on bar menus from coast to coast, the days of ordering a salad might soon go the way of the tape cassette. These days, you can find all the greens you need right in your drink, from walloping tubers to delicate slices of cucumber, and you can bet those veggies come from organic pastures.

Whilst carousing at New York’s Gilt in Midtown East recently, I found myself gleefully swilling chef/mixologist Justin Bogle’s Watermelon Coolers, made with Bulldog Gin, fresh watermelon, and basil. Like a symphony played upon the taste buds, this legume-y libation partied on my palate and went down almost too smoothly. Summer, watermelon, and basil go together like peas and carrots, which decidedly should be Bogle’s next veggie-inspired cocktail. Always an intrepid foodie (and cocktailie), I’d come back for some muddled peas mixed with vodka and a carrot garnish any day. He could call it The Forrest Gump.

Ever since, I’ve been thinking—what else is out there in the vegetails realm, and how deep does this alcoholic spin on the farm-to-table trend really go?

Owner of Williamsburg’s Huckleberry Bar, Stephanie Schneider explains that there are many reasons to use vegetables, fruits, and even meats to create cocktails. She says, “Being in the restaurant business for so many years [Schneider put in time at Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Eleven Madison Park, and Jean Georges before opening Huckleberry Bar in 2007], I saw chefs working with seasonal herbs and vegetables all the time. It’s bringing the same mindset to cocktails. If you’re serving a fennel and blood orange salad, why not make a cocktail with fennel and blood orange juice?”

Huckleberry Bar serves up a bevy of booze, from citrus-infused vodka to rosemary-infused rye to anise hyssop-infused vodka to lovage-infused rum to jalapeño-infused tequila. You name it, they infuse it. Most of their ingredients come directly from the Green Market in Union Square. “You take the fresh herb, shock it with hot water to release the oils, then pour the booze over and let it sit for two to five days,” Schneider explains. Not only does it make for great tasting drinks, but it’s also cost effective. “When you make dinner and you buy tarragon or thyme why not use the leftovers for the drinks? It eliminates waste in a small place like ours by using all parts of the vegetable and animal.” If you ever go to Huckleberry Bar for brunch try the bacon-infused bourbon. But I digress.

Aimee Olexy, co-owner of Talula’s Garden in Philadelphia, maintains a purist mindset when adding herbs and vegetables to cocktails. “One of the things that we do is try to focus on food and then the drink as a result of it,” she says. “We manipulate ingredients but still showcase the liquor. If we’re going to use a pure spirit then what can we do to take some of those inherent flavors and showcase them in a natural way?” The goal of the cocktails at Talula’s is to relax you and get you ready to eat, a precursor to a nice bottle of wine. “People that are drinking good cocktails these days are such foodies that the drinks must reflect some of the flavor profiles of our food,” Schneider adds. “Take the flavor of rum. We think about what characteristic from the farm will make a nice marriage to it. Its woody because it’s aged in oak so honey or a cucumber nuance will bring the flavor out. We want the integrity of the spirit itself to exist by finding something in the garden that will accentuate the taste.”

A house favorite at Talula’s Garden is the Gardner, a classic play on the Mojito. “The fresh mint will bring some more fragrance to this nice vanilla woodsy spirit, making it a little grassy. The use of cucumber, basil, or mint tends to open up your palette far more than juice. This drink literally makes you start to salivate and then you crave food,” Schneider says.

Chef/Mixologist Mariena Mercer of the Chandelier at Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas takes a culinary stance when it comes to her cocktails. “I explore individual roles of the four basic tastes [salty, sour, bitter, and sweet], coalescing them and bringing them into unity,” says Mercer. “The spirit needs to stand out, as does each element.” One of the newest additions to their cocktail menu is the Thai Down, made with Milagro Blanco, Domaine De Canton, strawberry puree, Thai Chili Syrup, and Thai basil leaves. “We eat a lot of Thai food so we wanted to channel the cuisine into the cocktail,” says Mercer. “The Thai basil has strawberry puree, but not in a gratuitous sweet way. It’s all about creating perfect harmony in the drink,” says Mercer

Beverage director Jonathan Baird of Hatfield’s in L.A. agrees wholeheartedly. Baird takes leaps and bounds to concoct myriad mixed creations for their discerning and thirsty clientele. “We base everything on balance,” says Baird. “That is to say, we make sure that you can taste each item that goes into the drink. It’s also about using the freshest ingredients we can get our hands on from the local Farmers’ Markets.”

Baird reveals how it’s done, “For our Cucumber Mint Gimlet we peel and slice the cucumber thin and blend it with an immersion blender instead of steeping the cucumber coins in vodka. This gives the drink more of a cucumber flavor and adds a nice green hue to it.”

Now that fresh herbs and vegetables can be obtained through bar hopping, I may never have to masticate them in salad form again. The veggies in these drinks must counteract the calories from the alcohol (they simply must!). And besides, why expend energy chewing when you can sip your greens and simultaneously get a buzz?

Animals Unleashed: Electric Zoo’s Executive Producers Laura De Palma & Mike Bindra

“Hurricane Irene has definitely changed the schedule up, but we’re on track and ready to open the doors as planned, bigger and better than ever,” says Laura De Palma, co-Executive Producer of Made Event with business partner and husband of eight years Mike Bindra. This year, not even the threat of Hurricane Irene could stop the duo from finalizing their plans for the third installment of Electric Zoo, the ginormous three-day electronic music extravaganza that will take over Randall’s Island beginning on Friday.

In fact, it seems like the undercurrents of heat and fervor left by the storm only intensified the air of electricity the event’s producers strive to create at Randall’s Island, as DJ’s from all over the world (think: Tiesto, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren) gear up to sonically dazzle crowds with their bass, beats, and cross-fading. This is the duo’s third go at putting on New York’s biggest electronic music festival, adding, aptly, a third day to this weekend’s head-nodding, lights-pulsing, electro pandemonium. That’s an extra 12 hours of festivities, which run from 11am to 11pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Electric Zoo is the culmination of De Palma and Bindra’s longtime extracurricular paramour: electronic music. “We got together in the early 90’s when the underground house scene was at its pinnacle in New York,” says De Palma. “There was barely a Saturday night back then when we wouldn’t make it to the Sound Factory dance floor, or end up at Save the Robots in the wee hours. We have been business partners for a decade, and have envisioned doing a premier electronic music festival in NYC for years.” This year, their vision has come to fruition (and then some!) — they are expecting a sellout at 35,000 attendees per day. Does this mass outpouring of fans flocking to Randall’s Island mean that the once-obscure genre has become fully mainstream? “It’s exciting and almost surreal to someone who’s been plugging away in this underground culture for over 20 years,” says Bindra. “I never thought it would get this big. I think the Internet has been the real driver of this.” De Palma adds, “It feels like EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has hit the mainstream already. It’s exciting to be part of the force that’s pushing it forward. I agree that the Internet has been the major driver. It’s turned the concept of ‘mainstream’ on its head. It’s not about a major label deciding what gets out there, and subsequently what’s hot anymore – because it’s all out there.” The New York-based electro aficionados certainly have stamina and passion, two essential attributes necessary to survive an undertaking of this magnitude. “I first got into electronic music in 1987 in Costa Brava, Spain,” says Bindra. “I was 17-years-old, and used to dress up like Don Jonson and go out to discotheques every night for three weeks straight during August.” As for his partner in crime, De Palma says, “I remember the first house record I ever heard – distinctly. It was Marshall Jefferson’s “Move Your Body” and I was in High School on vacation with my parents. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before and I was instantly hooked.” So the rest is history? Not exactly. “We never stop. We spend all year thinking, dreaming, planning,” says Bindra. “Yes, it’s a year’s worth of planning and then some,” agrees De Palma. “For us, every detail is as important as the next, from the acts, to the production, to the festival grounds, to the food. Each year it’s important for us to top what we’ve done the previous year.” This year’s Electronic Zoo headliners are Tiësto, David Guetta, and Armin van Buuren, with performances by a veritable melting pot of veteran DJ’s such as Danny Tenaglia, Diplo, Carl Cox, John Digweed, Moby, Kid Sister, Chromeo, Tommy Lee (yes, Motley Crue’s drummer) with DJ Aero, and DJ Snoopadellic (the infamous rapper Snoop Dogg’s turntable-thrusting alter ego, in case you were wondering). “Every year we try to amplify the good and turn down the not so good. So this year, expect bigger and better tents, stages and production. You’ll find better food, nicer VIP, and less dust. There are also more bathrooms, and entry to the festival will be quicker and easier as well,” says Bindra. When it comes to choosing the lineup, De Palma has only one simple rule: “We give the people what they want!” Should you see a sleepy-eyed man leaning back and stealing an adoring gaze at the festivities on Randall’s Island this weekend, it just might be Bindra, who says, “If we’re lucky we get to feel like proud parents, just enjoy our festival and take in as many acts as possible. We really get off on seeing the fans having a great time so that is what we try and do during the festival.” If you’re heading to the grounds to partake in the Zoo, don’t forget a protective metal rod — this pair agrees the event is going to be “electric, baby!” You’ve been warned.

Photo Credit: Bennett Sell-Kline for

New York’s Orbed Food Trend Comes Full Circle

Could it be that we, as sophisticated New York foodies, are really just a just a bunch of babies stuck in Freud’s infamous oral phase? Mr. Psychology himself proposed that if a nursing child’s appetite was thwarted during any psychosexual stage, that anxiety could manifest in adulthood as a neurosis. Thus, an infantile oral fixation would spiral into an adult obsession with oral stimulation. While I often apply this theory to smokers and nail biters, perhaps everyone really just wants balls in their mouth. Why? It seems that spherical sustenance has been popping up all over town.

Lately, I’ve noticed an odd food phenomenon in the Big Apple. What started as a meatball craze, with folks flocking to the Lower East Side’s The Meatball Shop, has turned into a full-on gastronomical drift towards all things orbicular. My hypothesis began to take its circular shape whilst dining at bi-level West Village haunt, bobo recently, where my meal consisted of devilled eggs, crab cakes and gnocchi. Circinate coincidence? Last season’s Top Chef finalist and executive chef at Plein Sud located in the Smyth hotel, Ed Cotton said, “I can tell you that a sphere has a very pleasant and very nice visual look to it in general. So when you apply that shape and incorporate some food with it, it gives you a very clean sleek look to it.” Cotton clearly thinks it’s a visual phenomenon, but a trend nonetheless. He continues, “Other shapes are cool but squares can be boring. If someone walks over offering you a risotto square its just not the same as a risotto ball where people are more excited about it.”

Being that summer is abounding, it was only apt that I take my theory out East (okay fine, I used my latest journalistic assignment to go to the beach!) to investigate the orbed food trend with executive chef Joseph Rago of popular Fire Island restaurant, Island Mermaid. “I think circular foods are best when they are very natural looking (for example, look at the shape of eggs).”

“Diners are looking to have a fun experience, something that can surprise and excite them,” Rago continues. “While it is a trend, I think that it is best not deconstructed but rather used in its natural state like cheesecake pops or crab balls. Also, the convenience of making something into small balls and be able to market the way you can eat it as a quick and easy hors d’oeuvres at parties is vital.”

Rago recently added meatballs to his summer menu and claims, “people love them. It’s the familiarity of the meatballs that you can’t often find in a casual dining restaurant that make them special.” Though Rago admits, “I’m not a big fan of orbing food just for the sake of it. It doesn’t look natural. If you’re going to make a ball out of anything, the original structure should be there. Watermelon balls: good, meatloaf balls: blah.”

The creators of Dippin’ Dots may beg to differ. Tiny balls of ice cream have made their way to mass markets according to a recent article in the New York Times, which states, “While high-end chefs have lately been using liquid nitrogen to turn all kinds of food into dots, Dippin’ Dots was a pioneer, introducing its first product 23 years ago and creating a category that is now known as cryogenic ice cream… ice cream dots have traditionally been a novelty item, available primarily at entertainment venues and franchise stores… but these days, dot-style products are more widely available, thanks in part to new technology that can keep the products stable in supermarket and home freezers.”

Managing Chef and Partner Ralph Scamardella from Midtown’s Lavo is fully aboard the balled bites trend. For him, it’s all about the oral (nod to Freud). He says, “there’s a tremendous amount of mouth feel, when you eat little balls like round ravioli or coquettes. It’s also spoon-friendly—lot’s of sauce with small balls of food is a pure delight.

“Most chefs like to play around,” Scarmedella continues. “There are two schools of thought when it comes to this. One school is the chef who deconstructs everything and uses chemical food additives like Lecithin (a generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues, and in egg yolk, composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids). The other school (myself included) goes for the all natural—a lot of flavor derived from nature. Round food is fun, but I like to do it organically.”

Ben Sargent, star of the hit Food Network television show Hook, Line, and Dinner put it best for me. He’s says, “I’ve always had a round food fetish. I like it. From the dumpling to the wonton—anything with a pouch is good. I think it’s a pop in the mouth experience. Whenever you have something round, like a pork bun, a dumpling, a meatball or even a Cadbury Egg, you get an explosion. That’s half the experience.”

These days, when it comes to cuisine, the circle of life will wind up on your plate. So, if you are stuck in Freud’s oral phase, skip the smoking and go right for the latest trend in culinary geometrics.