By Victoria Recaño, Gourmet Live
Blues Brother. Restaurateur. Vodka connoisseur. Dan Aykroyd has made the move from big screen superstar to culinary standout with a string of House of Blues restaurants and a vodka line inspired, literally, by ancient spirits. He took some time during a recent event at The Blvd at Beverly Wilshire to dish about his favorite foods and what he considers the most underrated ingredient.
Gourmet Live: What inspired you to create your Crystal Head line of vodka?
Dan Aykroyd: We wanted to go back to the old style of vodka-making, which is using really, really fine water the old Russian way and just the mash without any industrial additives.
Gourmet Live: What is the best meal you have ever had?
Dan Aykroyd: It was a meal I served to my guests this summer. We started with iceberg wedge salad with crumbled blue cheese and bacon cubes sautéed in maple syrup and garlic croutons. Then we had a jumbo shrimp cocktail with a beet horseradish sauce for the dip, and finally a T-bone steak grilled on my old garbage incinerator, which I use as a grill. We also had Yorkshire pudding, sweet potato fries, green peas, and then for dessert, it was Black Forest cake followed by coffee and the Patrón XO Coffee Liqueur. It was dinner at my place for 17.
GourmetLive: Was your grill really an incinerator?
Dan Aykroyd: Yeah, it was an incinerator. My family has a farm that goes back to the 1800's and in the early days they built something to burn all the garbage. So I cleaned that up and it has a big grill on it and a big furnace underneath and that is what I use.
GourmetLive: Have you always dreamed about creating a "spirit" and also owning a restaurant?
Dan Aykroyd: Well, we started House of Blues and that was a beautiful experience in the restaurant business and there are still 13 around the country. It is owned by Live Nation now and we are purveyors of fine Louisiana cuisine and we are also purveyors of five-star dining. I had dreamed of having a restaurant and we did it.
GourmetLive: And how did you make the move to the spirit business?
Dan Aykroyd: The only reason I am here is because of a gentleman named J.P. DeJoria, who founded John Paul Mitchell hair systems and is also the founder of Patrón tequila. He was also one of our main backers of the House of Blues when the company got into real trouble and we had no cash, so he bailed us out.
GourmetLive: What would you cook with your vodka?
Dan Aykroyd: I would go to my lake, catch a nice perch or trout, and I would brown it and then just put a little vodka on top of there, or I would make a vodka penne.
GourmetLive: What do you think is the most underrated ingredient?
Dan Aykroyd: I would say the most underrated ingredient is the human touch. And my vodka is handmade in Newfoundland by the loving hands of the women there.
GourmetLive: What are the five ingredients that you always have in your refrigerator?
Dan Aykroyd: For food? I have whole wheat bread, smoked ham, sliced Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, grape jelly, iceberg lettuce - and that's the greatest ham sandwich ever, with the jelly.
GourmetLive: With the jelly?
Dan Aykroyd: Yeah with the jelly. Here's a great one: smoked turkey, mayonnaise, lettuce and grape jelly. Grape jelly is the key to a lot of great sandwiches.
GourmetLive: What's your least favorite food?
Dan Aykroyd: Kentucky Fried Chicken, because they ruined me with one of their popcorn chicken the other day. I ate it and it tasted like sawdust.
GourmetLive: What's your guilty food pleasure?
Dan Aykroyd: A Mocha Dacquoise. Find me someone who can make me a good one and they get a star.
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Photo Credit: Courtesy of IMDb
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