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Eric Wareheim the bon vivant comedy king comes thru talkin' HOME-CHEF magic, BIG fits + how to transform AWKWARDNESS into SWAG one dunk at a time
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Whenever we’re deciding which GOATS to interview for this GOATS-ONLY newsletter, one of our discriminating sets of criteria is The F.L.O.W. Test: “Is this person,” we ask, “distinguished in the worlds of Food, Laughter, Outfits and Wine??”
Some GOATS check 1 or 2 of these boxes… Some GOATS check none, but have other incredible accomplishments.
Today’s guest? Eric Wareheim?? He’s a FOUR-QUADRANT F.L.O.W. GOAT!!
FOOD — he eats so d*mn good AND chefs it up so d*mn good that he has a cookbook coming Sep. 21, called Foodheim (which he wrote with Mach 3+ gourmand and Blackbird SpyFriend Emily Timberlake; link to cop below.)
LAUGHTER — w/ his partner Tim Heidecker, Eric’s a Spyplane-certified comedy legend — if you haven’t seen AWESOME SHOW, GREAT JOB, fix that, and if you haven’t seen BEEF HOUSE?? FIX THAT TOO, it aired last year on Adult Swim and it was great!!
OUTFITS — the man gets off these bon vivant fits like it’s nothing, with a special gift for BREEZY WHITE-ON-WHITE ensembles.
WINE — he’s a YOUNG PRINCE of “the grapevine game” serving up delicious juice via his winery, Las Jaras.
So it was only natural that we hit up Eric for some TURBO MODE F.L.O.W. TALK AND to see if he wanted to tell Spy Nation about a COOL rare possession he cherishes… His response? “Oh mama let’s gooo!”
Blackbird Spyplane: Last night at Spyplane HQ we whipped up the fried-fish sandwich recipe from FOODHEIM. We used rock cod filets & it was great — crispy, dilly, pickly, just a little spicy. You write in the book about how that recipe originated with a 2-hour drive you took outside Tampa years ago after you heard rumors of a great waterside fish shack… I love that lots of the recipes in the book connect to far-flung food odysseys you’ve taken.
Eric Wareheim: “Yeah, people will ask me, How did you get into food? And it’s like, I’ve just been in all these cool places because of comedy — often places in the south, where the food is incredible. With that fish shack, I heard about it because we were at this Tampa restaurant called Bern’s, which is a steakhouse but the steakhouse part is almost a front for the best wine-cellar in the world — I go there once a year to experience it.
“We’ll literally eat there for 8 hours and have two dinners: order food, buy some wine, hang out and drink ‘til we get hungry again, then order more food. They’ve got bottles from the early 1900s, and they’ve stored them perfectly — you open up a hundred-year-old bottle and it tastes delicious. So yeah, if something’s really special, I’m willing to make the trek.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Yr serious in the home kitchen too — I love that you take notes about each pizza you make so you can tweak things, and I love that you encourage yr readers to approach cooking the same way: It’s about delicious food, but beneath that it’s about the pleasure of getting small details right…
Eric Wareheim: “I totally subscribe to that. It’s the same with comedy: you make a show and, as a creator, I never focus on how great something is, I’m only focused on this one little thing I could change. When I make my wife dinner, I annoy her, because the first thing I do when the plate hits the table is ask her if she wants my notes. She says, ‘No! I just want to enjoy it!’ And I’m like, ‘But I have to tell you what I could have done better!’ The process is fun to me. I love it. I’m such a ‘note’ guy, and I love going back through old notes, remembering what I did before and how I fixed something. There’s joy in finding a problem and then fixing it myself.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Was this cookbook a pandemic project?
Eric Wareheim: “Sort of. I worked on it before Covid, because books take forever, but I wrote the concept of it, figured out the framework, and that’s when I started cooking a lot, getting deeper, and then the pandemic hit, and I was like, ‘This is a perfect time to really test all the recipes.’ I started taking it super seriously, testing recipes over and over again, because I wanted it to be so legit, so good, so easy to make, and I wanted people to love it and to respect it — it’s hard to come from comedy to food, you know, people sniff a rat.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Right, I bet some foodies look sidelong at this comedy dilettante TRESPASSING in their world…
Eric Wareheim: “I was literally cooking the same thing every day, trying to perfect a recipe and find my version of it, find my voice. I didn’t want to disrespect the roots of a dish or rip off anything. That’s similar to comedy, too. Tim and I were hyper obsessive about never repeating anyone’s stuff — like if we were writing and someone said, ‘SNL had a sketch like this,’ we’d delete the whole f*cking thing. It was kind of the same making recipes.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I’m psyched to try yr caper berry pizza recipe — I’m a caper fiend because, much like you, I f**k heavy with acidity. That’s one of the great things a cookbook can do is teach people little shortcuts to huge flavor. Like, if nothing else, just squeeze fresh lemon juice on something and that s**t will go a minimum of 10x crazier…
Eric Wareheim: “Yes! And vinegars. Good vinegars are so important to me. At first it’s scary to some ppl, they’re like, What? Acid? But everything tastes better.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Besides Las Jaras, what natty juice have you been crushing this summer?
Eric Wareheim: “It’s not ‘cool,’ but I got really into Rieslings, which connects to the acid thing — I’m on a kick of wine where I want my teeth to be shattering, the acid is so high. I’ve had Grosses Gewächs Rieslings, Trocken Rieslings, and it turns out I have ancestors in that region of Germany — my mom’s from right outside the Mosel, and I never knew Rieslings could be good because growing up all I ever tasted were these sugary supermarket Rieslings.
“But it’s such a good summer wine, there’s sweetness but a lot of acid, and the combination is so electric. It’s great with food, and it’s and way more affordable than, you know, a Burgundy or Barolo…”
Blackbird Spyplane: Are there trends in the natural-wine world that irk you?
Eric Wareheim: “We don’t go too funky with Las Jaras. We want to respect the fruit, and sometimes in the natty community things go too wild for me — people will come to our tastings and say, Give me your funkiest wine, and we’re like, ‘We don’t do that,’ to us if it’s funky we see it as a failure. To me, I want the purest expression of something — the simplest version, where you can taste all the elements, instead of it being clouded. In the food world a dish gets clouded with all these added flavorings, and in the natural-wine world wine gets clouded with things like brett and mouse…”
Blackbird Spyplane: I know brett, which is a funky-a** yeast, but what is mouse??
Eric Wareheim: “It’s this weird bacterial thing that happens on the finish — it’s a disgusting, mouse-cage, wet-cardboard taste that takes over your whole mouth. It’s nasty and happens a lot when winemakers don’t put in sulfur. I think some casual wine drinkers might experience it and say, ‘Oh it’s part of the natty thing,’ because they’re new to it and they’re having fun, which is fine. I was there, I loved discovering weird tastes, too.”
Blackbird Spyplane: If you could snap yr fingers right now and get lunch anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Eric Wareheim: “There’s this restaurant in Sicily, on the southeast coast, in a little town called Marzamemi — a tiny restaurant in this tiny fishing town, and you sit by the water and they serve you mostly crudo, the raw red shrimps with olive oil and lemon and salt, maybe some whitefish, some tuna, a pasta with fresh clams. I’ve been to so many sushi places, but this place?? Oh, and they have these sweet Sicilian oranges, too. The vibe there is so gorgeous, and there were no tourists in sight when I went. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t think of the name…”
Blackbird Spyplane: That’s fine, let’s leave some mystery to it. OK, long before you were Chef Heimy, you were Hoops Heimy, playing J.V. high school basketball in Pennsylvania — and in 1991 you got this framed certificate commemorating a MONSTER DUNK… What’s the story?
Eric Wareheim: “So, I was this tall very early on, and I’d play sports casually but my heart was never in it — I didn’t like the coach yelling at us, I didn’t like locker-room vibes, I didn’t like jocks. I was more of a musician and artist then, so I basically only played basketball because I was really tall and people told me I should: I was a big guy going through high school humongous and awkward and all I wanted to be was ‘regular.’ I didn’t want to be tall, I didn’t want a German mom, I wanted to be cool — so I played basketball.
“In 10th grade I was really into metal so I had a Layne Staley Alice in Chains goatee and wore a headband with the name of my band on it, which was STRENGTH, and I convinced our coach to play our demo when we entered the court.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Were you nice in the paint??
Eric Wareheim: “No! But I could dunk, and that’s all I wanted to do — especially for a nerdy kid, it felt cool, so during one game I had this wide-open look and I did this huge dunk, where I held on to the rim and everything, and the bleachers just cleared. People were crying. Because we were a really bad team. We actually played in the same division as Lower Merion, Kobe’s team growing up, and I didn’t ever play him but his school would beat us, like, 100 to 5. So just the idea that I did this huge dunk — the cheerleaders came out and hugged me, which was the first time they gave me any attention. They actually baked me multiple cakes that said GO ERIC, so I felt like was on top of the world. And at the end of the season, the coach printed out this certificate out on a dot-matrix printer.”
Blackbird Spyplane: What did it mean to you then, and what does it mean to you now?
Eric Wareheim: “When I first got it, it meant a lot just to get any praise at all — I didn’t really get good grades, I was really lost, trying to find out who I was, and soon afterward I quit sports for good and started making films and focusing on music. So I kind of look at it as this transitional thing — it’s a motivational symbol to me. It hangs at my house & I look at it every day, and if I’m having a bad day I’ll be like, ‘I can f*cking dunk.’”
Blackbird Spyplane: As a kid, it sometimes felt like the worst possible thing you could be was ‘different’ — so I love that you were this super-tall kid but it wound up unlocking this dunking power, and suddenly what had felt weird started feeling cool.
Eric Wareheim: “Oh absolutely. To tell you another story about that time period: My family didn’t have much money, and when I was 11 I had size-14 feet and there weren’t many options, so we couldn’t go to Sears or Athlete’s Foot — we had to go to this specialty shop in Morristown. I was like, ‘I’m special? What is this, a medical shop?’
“This poor kid was next to me with a club foot, getting sneakers with like wood under them — seeing that, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m damaged, I need these monster shoes,’ and obviously sneakers are so important as a kid. I remember that moment being really hard on me. But yeah, the dunk is a symbol to me that says, Use all your freakish qualities and try to make them positive, even in what feel like the worst circumstances.”
Blackbird Spyplane: These days I see you rocking a lot of great monochrome outfits and FEIT sneakers — as a 6’7” king, can you give the Big & Tall readers in Spy Nation some other tips? Do you cop custom? Off the rack?
Eric Wareheim: “It goes back to the shoe thing — it’s very hard to find something that can fit you. It’s frustrating. You’ll see something cool online and it only goes up to size large and if you’re big and tall you’re kind of f**ked. I don’t like to support fast fashion but I still buy from Gap, because their XXL stuff works. All the linen shirts I wear are Gap, but the key is you have to spend the money to have them tailored. You don’t need a fancy tailor, a dry cleaner will pin you up. That’s what I do with my pants, too, and it sucks that it’s an extra step and an extra expense, but that’s my tip for off-the-rack clothes.
“As far as custom stuff, I have a few pieces that were made for me. The jumpsuit I’m wearing on the Foodheim cover is custom, this amazing stylist Beverly Nguyen did that piece for me”
Blackbird Spyplane: Oh very cool, her home-goods store in NYC is tight…
Eric Wareheim: “And then I had a suit made in Koreatown here in L.A., at a place called High Society Tailor — it was pretty expensive, and I have other suits I bought big and then tailored, but it’s hard to get anything cool. So making something from scratch is a great gift you can give yourself.”
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