A bit about this blog and its author, Brett Adams 

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I got into food and cooking because of punk rock.

I spent the bulk of my 20's on tour in a van, singing and playing guitar in a band I started called, The Riot Before. All in all, we ended up playing something like 550 shows in 14 countries, making quick friends all over the world and then asking to sleep on their couches. I've slept on a lot of couches.

Like many a punk band before us and many to come, we never once made a profit. And so I, in the great tradition of the starving artist, went searching for a job with wages decent enough to sink into a band and hours flexible enough to accommodate my not being around for half the year. I found restaurant work. Particularly the jobs in the front of the house. I worked them all.

Doing this I inadvertently placed myself in the company of food and those who made it, and this exposure piqued an interest in cooking that I always had but never quite had access to in the small farm town in which I grew up. I got the chance to try new foods, to expand my embarrassingly picky palate. I saw food being cooked from scratch, things like stocks and sauces, and I had the obvious but essential epiphany that dinner didn't start in a jar or box. I began asking questions of the better chefs I worked with, applying their answers to what I'd later cook in my kitchen. I bought cookbooks and read them on tour in the back of the van. I watched as much food programming as possible, gleaning scraps of information from even the most horrendously cheesy hosts. I gravitated towards resources that provided information instead of a lone list of ingredients. I asked why as much as I asked how. Most importantly, I cooked. A lot. 

All of this happened concurrently with writing three records, and so it makes sense that I learned to understand the structure of a recipe like how I thought about songs. The thing about songs is that when you break them down to their skeletons, they're often very simple and not at all original. Most of the time it's just the same four chords. Being a very not good guitarist, I leaned heavily on this truth, testing its limits, never once being failed by it. The wonderful thing about music though, is that from those humble, homogeneous starting points, there are infinite ways to build beautiful, unique songs. I find it inspiring that some variation of C, G, Am, F can be found at the opera house, the Grammys, the downtown club, and the punk rock basement show.  

These days, food is my new music, and I've learned that cooking has its own variation on four chords. There are a handful of basic techniques that function like their own little circle of fifths. Flavor combinations that work like how D5 and G5 never once let me down in a chorus. They're simple, yes, but they're everything. And the beauty of this is that all you really have to do is learn a few simple skills and structures, and the whole culinary landscape begins to unfurl before you. Like how you can write a decent punk song on your second day of playing guitar, you can cook a wonderful meal long before a chef's knife feels comfortable in your hand. 

This blog then, isn't about simple cooking, time limits, or how to eliminate whatever ingredient is hip to avoid these days. That stuff makes food the enemy. It makes it something to be fought against. This blog is an exploration of all the great things that can be had in the kitchen. It's an equal opportunity investigation and celebration of food and drink. 

It's about starting with four chords and enjoying the endless options therein. 


I currently work at the Woodsman Tavern in Portland, OR, splitting shifts serving food and making drinks. Come sit at the bar and we'll talk about whiskey. 

I am also all about writing for your magazine or blog or other thing that can be covered in words. Email me at: brett@fourchordkitchen.com