What was life like growing up in the small town of Fayetteville, GA?
It started off slow. There weren’t a lot of big box establishments when I was young. My dad owned a photography studio (and still does today) in the heart of downtown Fayetteville right across from the historic courthouse. I attended private school until high school, so most of my environments were small. It seemed as though as I grew up, Fayetteville did as well. Before I graduated high school, we had everything. But looking back on my childhood, I identify with the smaller slow moving home town.
Who got you interested in cooking?
My dad did most of the cooking in the house, which I think showed me that it was cool for a guy to cook. Although, I don’t want to sell my mom short as a cook, she definitely had her signature dishes that she had dialed in. My dad never really planned his meals. He would just look to see what we had in the refrigerator like butter, some sort of seasoning, or whatever we had laying around and go from there.
What’s your favorite family recipe?
I’d have to go with the grandmothers on this one. My mom’s mom had the best chicken and dumplings. She passed away, but the recipe lives on. My dad’s mom can make any vegetable taste amazing. Her field peas and cornbread are superb.
Southerners know good cookin’. What is your favorite comfort food?
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and a biscuit (with gravy on it of course). Glass of sweet tea would be nice as well.
What should every Southern kitchen be stocked with?
BUTTER. My wife gets on to me for this, but if you’ve ever wondered why southern food tastes so good, it’s butter.
Which is the dish you call your Signature dish?
I make a lot of spaghetti in big batches because it’s easy to reheat. With all the traveling and long hours, it’s nice to have something I can grab out of the fridge. I think spaghetti actually tastes better the second day anyway…
Is there a secret ingredient that you love to cook with?
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning! It’s what my dad used.
Do you ever experiment in your cooking and eating?
Absolutely. I’m always up for trying something new.
If you had to pick one type of cuisine, what would you say is your favorite?
I can’t pick just one. Chinese, Italian, Mexican…I love them all!
One food everyone tells you to try, but you just can’t get up the nerve.
Nashville is known for their Hot Chicken. I’ve had the mildest version of it, but I just cannot bring myself to do the blazing hot version. I just don’t know how people can handle that kind of heat!
What can’t you control yourself around food wise?
Popcorn…the salt and the butter…can’t stop until it’s all gone.
Your tours have taken you a lot of places. Whats the most memorable meal you have had while touring. Where were you and what did it involve?
Well, I can tell you that it was a Mexican street vendor in Los Angeles. It was almost midnight when we drove to it. Cash only, no frills, just amazing. I can’t tell you anymore about it, otherwise my friend that showed it to me would never forgive me…
Since you Bartend on the side at Rolf and Daughters, a fantastic Nashville staple, compare writing music with creating cocktails.
I think it goes hand in hand. Just like songwriting, you have influences. The classics. For the most part, all new drinks are derivatives of classics. I think the goal though is to be innovative and creative. That’s what sets apart the artists from the cover bands.
Can you give us an example of one of your experimental or signature cocktails?
Yes, I created one that I called “El Guapo’s Sweater” (from 3 Amigos of course). Equal parts Mina Real Mezcal, East India Solera Sherry, and Carpano Antica Vermouth. It’s kind of like a smokey, nutty, vegetal Mezcal Manhattan. Not for everybody, but experimental things aren’t for everyone…
What do you like to do on your days off from music and bartending?
Working on our house. My wife and I purchased a 1960’s ranch about five months ago. It really hasn’t had much work done on it, which we actually like. We are trying to do some updating while still preserving some of the original character. We binge watched “Fixer Upper” the months leading up to our house search. Slowly, but surely, it’s feeling like a real home.
Coming from Atlanta to Nashville, how would you describe the different food scenes?
Well, I think the biggest difference is you have to go searching to find those great ethnic restaurants in Nashville. Atlanta is such a huge international city, that great food is everywhere. Nashville is very quickly catching up though.
Tell us about your EP that just released “Turning to Wine.”
It’s my first EP since relaunching my music career in Nashville. It’s 6 songs that walk the listener through the different stages of a relationship. The songs were written over the past couple years. The sound is definitely on the natural side and can be enjoyed alone or as you share a meal with friends and family.
Whats your favorite wine you turn to?
HAHA! Well, I’m not one to settle for a favorite, but I do have ones that I prefer. For white, I lean toward dry minerality found in wines from Sancerre. Rose, I gotta nod my head to Provence. And lately with reds I’ve been leaning toward Valpolicella.
Finally for Battered and Brewed, If you could have a cocktail with anyone, who would it be and what would you drink?
Robert Plant and a Negroni sounds nice to me.
Reuben Bidez grew up in Fayetteville, GA, a small town near Atlanta. He’s been singing and performing for as long as he can remember. “In grammar school, I was always the class clown,” he says. “I’d do anything for a laugh, but I didn’t really hit my stride until I joined the chorus.”
Bidez taught himself to play guitar after landing a job in a small mom and pop music store. “They gave me a job, despite the fact that I didn’t know how to play guitar. I learned on the job and discovered I had a natural musical ability. I started playing for my church youth group’s Wednesday night services. Not everyone would show up each week, so I taught myself bass and drums, to fill in for whoever was missing.”
During his years at Georgia Tech, Bidez started a rock band. They toured the Southeast and put out two EPs and an album before disbanding. Bidez had been writing upbeat pop tunes during his church years, but the songs he wrote for the band had a more personal, introspective tone. After graduation, he stayed in Atlanta, performing at open mics; the songs he put up on ReverbNation won him thousands of followers, but he was struggling to find his place in the Atlanta music scene. After some soul searching, he felt his best career move was to relocate to Nashville. “It was a leap of faith, but I had to do it. The fact that thousands of others are here trying their hardest, makes me want to try harder.”
The move to Nashville gave his career the expected boost. He put out Colors In My Eyes, a self-produced acoustic EP, released a single called
“Learning to Love You,” and landed a video of “Can We Survive” on the American Songwriter website. The magazine praised the music’s “rich, soulful sound.” Bidez will be touring to support Turning to Wine, both solo and with a five-piece band. “The band shows are more raucous than the record,” he says. “Live, we can reinvent the songs, stretch out a bit and give them a different feel.”
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