The glamorous couple talks pizza, Cheetos and life-changing chicken wings.
We all remember where we were when Sir Patrick Stewart tweeted out a picture of himself eating his first ever real New York slice of pizza. But did you ever wonder who introduced him to the proper pizza fold? That was his wife and partner in near Internet-breaking food crime, singer Sunny Ozell. Food & Wine caught up with the musician (whose debut album, Take It With Me, recently dropped) and the actor (whose new film, Green Room, opens today) about their chicken wing epiphany, pairing Cheetos with wine, eating deer ears and, yes, pizza.
Food & Wine: The first thing I have to know is: David Chang makes a cameo in your "Git Gone" music video, Sunny. What’s the story behind that?
Sunny Ozell: Isn’t that wonderful? Patrick and I had gone to a quite dishy, splashy, GQ Man Of The Year party at Carbone. Dave Chang was sat at our table, and he’s become a buddy. When the director came up with the concept for the video, I just started going through the list of who I could get. And Allen Cumming was busy. And, of course, I would have loved to have Ian McKellen, but he was busy. And so I thought, holy shit, what about Dave Chang? And so I reached out to him thinking, like, he’s not going to want to do that. He said yes and showed up, and was so generous with his time and into it. To this day it still kind of boggles my mind that David Chang made his music video debut in my music video. I mean, I get to throw a beer can at his head.
F&W: How many people get to say they’ve done that? You and Patrick met at Franny’s in Brooklyn when you were a server there, Sunny. Patrick, do you remember what you ordered that night?
Patrick Stewart: I'm going to say that I had pizza. Am I wrong?
SO: No, you’re right, but I remember what the pizza was. Isn’t that creepy?
PS: Well that’s the difference between you and me. What was it?
SO: Well, Patrick came in with one of Franny’s regular customers, Joel Gray, and they sat at the bar. This was almost nine years ago now. And at this time in the restaurant, the staff would order a pizza at the end of the night and feed ourselves. And Joel Gray saw the pizza that we ordered, which was a white pie with olives, and they ordered the same pizza. How about that, Patrick? I still remember.
PS: I'm impressed.
F&W: Speaking of pizza, I have to bring up the pizza controversy of a few years back when you had your first real pizza “slice," Patrick.
SO: It was the first time he had ever walked into a joint and grabbed a slice, which is a New York experience. We were actually hung over that day, which is why we went to get pizza.
PS: It surprised us that it became so controversial. But it delighted us, too.
F&W: Do you ever make pizza at home?
SO: Kind of. I cheat. Roberta’s in Brooklyn has these little frozen pies. They’re very neutral and then I gussy ‘em up with whatever else we want on it, like onions and olives. But I did work on the Franny’s cookbook with Melissa Clark. So I do know how to make pizza at home.
F&W: What Brooklyn restaurants do you miss when you’re in L.A. or on the road?
SO: Well I hate to be such a company gal considering that I haven’t worked at Franny’s in years. But I know we both miss Franny’s.
PS: We have a Mexican restaurant a few blocks away that we are very, very fond of, called Fonda, on 7th Avenue. And also the sushi restaurant.
SO: Oh my god, yes! Katsuei. I honestly think it’s some of the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life, and it’s right in our neighborhood. It’s killer.
PS: And then, of course, there’s the matter of the chicken wings in Red Hook, Sunny.
SO: Oh, Pok Pok. Yes, of course.
PS: Pok Pok. Sunny took me there about a year ago. The place is kind of rustic and busy and noisy. But I was told that the chicken wings are famous and I thought: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve never understood chicken wings—there are too many bones, not enough flesh, too much grease, fingers get all filthy, skin on everything. Until I had the chicken wings at Pok Pok and then I got it. I mean, I don’t order anything else. I just have chicken wings.
F&W: Let’s talk a little about wine, because I know you both love wine.
SO: Well, Patrick’s a New World guy. I'm an Old World girl.
F&W: Do you have compromise wines?
SO: We do. I really have a hard time with the big oaky California Chardonnays and the big fruit bomb Zinfandels. But Patrick has educated me on Oregon Pinot Noirs, the leaner styles of more Northwestern wines, and I really enjoy those.
F&W: Have you had any extraordinary wine experiences?
SO: I met winemaker and importer Kermit Lynch when I was working at Lupa—he’s also a blues musician. When Patrick and I were thinking about going to Provence I thought, I’ll reach out to Kermit and see if he’s got any ideas. He hosted us and sent us on little journeys to some of the vineyards that he imports. We went to Domaine Tempier. And we met Lulu Peyraud and we sat at the table of Lulu’s Provencal Table. The one that’s outside—it’s still there. Kermit went in to get her and I'm standing there at the table with Patrick outside and I'm like, “Baby, this is the fucking table.” I'm getting kind of emotional. And then she comes out—she’s so tiny—she comes out wearing heels, makeup, jewelry, just totally pulled together and 91 years old. We drank a ’79 La Migoua. We had it with Cheetos and chips.
F&W: You had it with Cheetos?
SO: Cheetos. That’s what she brought out. You know, what I love about that is, here’s this woman who basically is responsible for bringing Provençal cooking to the rest of the world and influencing Alice Waters, who then goes on to influence everybody. And you know what? She’s just fed up with cooking. So she gives us Cheetos. And God bless her, because you know what? Cheetos are delicious.
F&W: That sounds surreal. Have you had any horrible food experiences?
PS: I have been in the Far East on a few occasions, and on those occasions I have attended formal dinners as a guest, once in South Korea in Seoul and once in China in Xi’an. All the food was traditional food and I just remember it being an enormous struggle to get through the dinner without giving offense to our gracious host. Because some the things that we ate, even now as I recollect them, make my throat begin to tighten.
SO: There were deer ears, right?
PS: Yes. I made the mistake of asking, “What are these?” They were deer ears. And I said, “Is something being lost in translation here?” And they said, “No, no, no, no. That’s actually what they are; they’re ears of a deer.”
SO: Well, truthfully, you’re probably more of an adventurous eater now, don’t you think, darling?
PS: Well, as a result of meeting Sunny, yes. I was never especially fond of sushi. Now, you know, if we don’t eat sushi once a week, I feel that I am leading a deprived life.