We here at R$N get sick of talking about music, believe it or not, so for the sake of our own sanity we're starting a series of features with industry folk where they discuss topics entirely of their choosing, unrelated to music. First up is Cafe Mambo resident and general fan of all things continental, Pete Gooding.
"If only you sounded as excited when you're in bed with me as you do when you eat food," said an ex-girlfriend to Pete Gooding one day.
"For me it's the same kind of obsession as music. Like how I remember hearing Sasha play a track called We Came In Peace by Dance 2 Trance at an early Renaissance… I rang up Eastern Bloc Records in Manchester and they said they had one copy left, so I got in the car and drove there from Solihull, but on the way back I took the wrong motorway and ended up in Wales, but I didn't care – I had the record, and that's all that mattered!"
He cannot recount an occasion where he has ballsed-up so royally in pursuit of food, but he's been on similarly lengthy missions: "We've driven 100-odd miles to eat – it doesn't seem a chore to me, it seems like it's part of the whole thing… it just makes it better that you've gone to all that effort."
But all that fine wining and dining as an international DJ has nothing to do with the obsession: "I never liked sweets as a child, I just wanted cheese. All the other kids would be having black forest gateaux or whatever, but I would ask for the cheese board." Can't have been many children like that in 1970s Solihull. "When I was young, to have spaghetti was pretty exotic, and you'd only have Curry out of a tin… things have got better."
Fair point, but why so?
"The explosion of TV celebrity chefs and cookery programmes has a massive amount to do with it. I love watching them, especially Keith Floyd."
I felt it was time to dumb things down a little. "Do you think Gordon Ramsay looks a bit like Laurent Garnier?," I said. "Errrm, kind of," said Pete. But quickly we were back to Floyd; we like Floyd.
"My mum bought me the whole DVD box set of his shows one Christmas, and I remember I went off to India to do the Sunburn festival and I didn't even go out and look at stuff… I must have watched 9 hours of Floyd just in my hotel. It wasn't just the food with him, it was a great travel programme and I liked his really half-arsed attitude to the way he went about it… he was just having a good time."
"So who's the Keith Floyd of DJs then?," I chip in. Pete: "I'm not prepared to call anyone the Keith Floyd of the DJ world because I'd basically be saying they're an alcoholic that doesn't give a fuck… there's plenty of them!"
"Okay then," I say, "…the Gordon Ramsay of the DJ world?" But this turns out to be equally libellous ground. Garnier remains the official answer because of looks, rather than some of the other discussed criteria that included threats of violence and being a caricature of one's self. Again, there was no shortage of candidates.
Jamie Oliver was a bit safer. "A lot of people have a go at him but of all the cookery books I own his is the one I use the most. It's good, simple, everyday food done well… and he's always up for good causes."
Recipe book in hand, weekends off from DJing tend to involve a trip to a market to buy some fresh and swanky ingredients. Last weekend he was at Borough Market ("I just get so excited walking around there – everything just seems so amazing!") and he used to live in view of Billingsgate Market in London, so would regularly go in there at 5 in the morning to get his fix of fresh fish. And one of the other things in view, he told me, was a barge, right beneath his flat, which was the home of Groove Armada's Andy Cato ("he lived there for years and I had no idea").
But isn't Andy Cato too tall to live on a houseboat? I should have pressed him more on that, so when it came to the eating habits of Roger Sanchez, there was no escape. "At Mambo, he'd come and play for an hour really energetically, but then he'd have to go off and do Pacha for 8 hours or something… he'd always have a fruit platter."
And what of Pete? He'd be playing very long sets at Cafe Mambo most days of the week. "I quickly learned what not to eat, like a heavy meal where you have a huge steak or something… it's hard to stop yourself sometimes but it happened to me enough where you'd stuff yourself and you'd turn up to the gig and just feel like you want to go to bed. Sushi became the really obvious DJ food for me, because it's not bloating."
But still, you must have needed something during a set?
"You'd get your Mambo staff meal at 1am, so I'd have to play a really long track. Normally Manuel Gottsching E2-E4 (31 minutes long), people would know I was up to something. As I lived above Mambo they probably thought I'd nipped in and had a shower, because I would probably have had time to do that and have a meal by the time the song had got to half way. The staff did get a bit sick of that one in the end."
He thinks long and hard about whether the kind of food he'd abandon the DJ booth for was indeed the best. "Spain and Italy are a close call because there's a lot in common with the food, but if I had to pick one I'd say Spain. Everything I'll now quote could apply to so many other countries… maybe it's just because I've spent so much time in Spain eating the food, but to me it's because of the simplicity, the quality of ingredients, and bucket-loads of garlic!"
"I do actually eat garlic every day of my life. Garlic is the sweetest perfume to me… if a girl stunk of garlic, that would be great!"
If only his ex had taken heed of this.